Andre F. Garner - Managing Partner
As Managing Partner of the Black Ink Group, Andre F. Garner is responsible for major project management for the public
relations and marketing firm he created in 2002 with co-founder Craig D. Barnes. Additionally, Mr. Garner is charged
with business development, and client communications while taking on the bulk of the firm’s writing, strategic
consulting, media relations and government relations work.
Prior to founding the Black Ink Group, Mr. Garner worked in the field of public relations, primarily in Chicago, since 1989.
His career began at the Chicago Housing Authority (CHA) where he served as chief media spokesman for the agency.
In addition to managing the flood of media inquiries and interview requests coming into the CHA daily, Mr. Garner
executed media strategies to highlight the groundbreaking advances in urban and public housing policy under
development at the CHA.
In 1993, Mr. Garner joined the staff of Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daley where he served as Assistant Press Secretary
under Chicago media veteran Jim Williams. In that role, Mr. Garner was responsible for managing messaging for the
City’s human services departments and the public information officers serving in those departments. The job also
involved speech writing and the day-to-day development of speeches, talking points and overall messaging for the Mayor
and cabinet members. Frequently asked to serve as a Mayoral surrogate at public events and in settings with
community groups, Mr. Garner developed an outstanding rapport with community leaders, elected officials and key
influencers throughout Chicago.
The relationships developed and fostered during his time in the Mayor’s Office served Mr. Garner well during the next
phase of his career. In September of 1997, Mr. Garner joined Peoples Energy Corporation as the Manager of
Community Affairs. As the parent company of a well-established gas utility company, Peoples Energy was the newly
developed brand created by company executives to position their business for competition in the deregulated
environment. Mr. Garner helped to shape the company’s strategy for government and community relations as well as
structuring their corporate contributions and other corporate responsibility efforts. In his tenure with the company, Mr.
Garner was responsible for improving the company’s relationships local government agencies, successfully dismissing
potentially explosive charges by a local city government and opening dialogues with key community groups
In June of 2002, Mr. Garner was hired by Electronic Data Systems (EDS) as Senior Public Relations Consultant for the
Midwest. In this role, Mr. Garner assisted the former General Motors and Ross Perot related business to expand its
business in the Chicago area. After one year of successfully positioning EDS in the Chicago market and assisting with
media and community relations efforts in other Midwest markets, executives at the EDS International Headquarters
named Mr. Garner Midwest Public Relations Director. Responsible for all aspects of communications and public
relations for the company in the company’s largest region, Mr. Garner managed staff and consultants in 13 states,
including a designated staff of communicators assigned to EDS’ General Motors account, the company’s largest client.
During his tenure at EDS, Mr. Garner was the lead communicator handling media, government and communications
issues related to the company’s relocation of its Midwest Headquarters from Troy, Michigan to Chicago.
In addition to his more than 16 years as a professional communicator, Mr. Garner is also active in his church community,
Omega Psi Phi Fraternity and the Illinois State Black Chamber of Commerce. He is a former board member of the
Cosmopolitan Chamber of Commerce, the Black Public Relations Society and the United Way of Chicago’s Volunteer
Communications Council. Mr. Garner holds a Bachelor of Science degree in News-Editorial Journalism from the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. He and his wife Adrienne live in Chicago’s Beverly community with their son
Andre Jr., 7, and daughter Ari, 4.
Craig D. Barnes - Senior Partner
Mr. Barnes has spent over 12 years consulting with major corporations, non-profit organizations, hospitals, schools,
universities and government agencies in the area of graphics, design and marketing. He also worked in the Architectural
Marketing area for Epstein International, preparing brochures, proposals and presentation materials for the
headquarters office in Chicago and the seven international branch offices. For the past 3 years, Mr. Barnes served as the
Senior Graphic Design consultant for Environmental Design International, inc. where he coordinated all graphical and
marketing content for its Chicago headquarters and its three national branch offices. Mr. Barnes has a background in
Architecture from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.