Over 80 years of experience
Andre F. Garner
With more than 30 years of experience as a communications, marketing and public policy professional, Andre F. Garner is frequently sought out for strategic messaging, consensus-building and relationship management. He has a proven track record of successfully positioning clients through creative use of media relations, stakeholder engagement, speech writing, event management, organizational development and economic development tools. Throughout his career, Mr. Garner has been recognized for his high-powered communications skills that have resulted in a consistent ability to win consensus on critical issues. His ability to negotiate common ground among all parties involved in a given relationship has helped to create new, groundbreaking opportunities. Mr. Garner’s unique gift of communication has resulted in the expansion of opportunities in the areas of youth and family development, corporate citizenship, environmental stewardship, economic empowerment and social justice. He is adept at positioning clients for success among key demographic audiences including niche customer bases, regulators, major competitors and public opinion leaders. Mr. Garner is the founding partner of the Black Ink Group, a Chicago-based strategic consultancy specializing in defining value in the Black experience. Their major successes have included managing community and stakeholder involvement with the $1 billion reconstruction of the Dan Ryan and Kingery Expressways in Chicago. Combined, these projects represent the largest public works investment in the history of the city’s Southside and south suburban communities. The Black Ink Group was also instrumental in working with developers to gain City approval of much-needed residential and retail development in underserved communities in Chicago, including a 50-acre Southside parcel, now home to one of the city’s first Wal-Mart stores. Most recently, Mr. Garner and the Black Ink Group has worked with Chicago real estate development firms Sterling Bay and DL3 Realty. Black Ink also recently provided media relations, speech writing, newsletter production and key stakeholder support for the Counting on Chicago Coalition, which received the largest grant ever awarded by the state of Illinois to raise awareness of the Census. Mr. Garner and the Black Ink Group also provide community engagement services, advertising support and management of local vendor opportunities on behalf of the owners of Local Markey by Shop and Save, a Chicago-area grocery store company. Mr. Garner and the Black Ink Group also played a central role in developing and administering a non-profit organization, The Great Migration Experience (GME), to honor and preserve the history of the social phenomenon that saw more than 4 million African Americans relocate from the Deep South to cities like Chicago. The organization conducts and archives videotaped interviews with Chicagoans and their families who migrated to the City during the Great Migration period from 1916 – 1970. Mr. Garner has also served as chief spokesman for the Chicago Housing Authority; Assistant Press Secretary and Acting Deputy Press Secretary for Chicago Mayor M. Daley; Midwest Communications Director for EDS and Director of Public Affairs and Communications for Cook County. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a BS Degree in News-Editorial Journalism. He is also a Life Member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity. Mr. Garner has been married to his wife Adrienne for over 25 years. They have two children in college and live in Chicago.
Craig D Barnes
Mr. Barnes is a founding partner of the Black Ink Group. He has spent over 25 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. Mr. Barnes has previously 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.
Mr. Barnes has been married to his wife Dr. LaVerne Barnes for over 29 years. They have 4 children and live in Matteson, Illinois.
Sean Long is a Senior Media Executive overseeing 12 television stations in Chicago, Milwaukee and South Bend, Indiana, including WCIU-TV, CW26, WCIU.2 (The U), WMEU-TV (Heroes and Icons), and WDJT-TV (CBS). He is only one of a few African-American Program Directors at a broadcast television station in the United States. Mr. Long began his career at WGCI Radio in the JA-AM 1390 program in High School. After completing the program, Sean attended the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana, and continued to work in Radio at WBML-FM (On-Air Talent/Program Director), and WBCP-AM 1580 (On-Air Talent) and in television at WICD-TV NBC Affiliate (Technical Director for the 6pm and 10pm News). Also at the University of Illinois, Sean was a columnist for the Daily Illini newspaper, writing about issues and entertainment geared towards the Champaign-Urbana’s large African-American population. Sean created and produced The College Box Music Video program, which was the University’s first all student ran television program airing on WICD-TV (NBC), was nominated for four Billboard® Music Video Show awards. After graduation, he joined then UPN Affiliate, WPWR-TV UPN 50, and was promoted to Assistant Program Director in 1998. He also served as Co-Publisher and Senior Editor/Operations Manager of “The Forum” magazine, which provided a fresh look into music, videos, fashion, and technology. In 2001, Mr. Long served as Executive Producer and Director of the top selling, worldwide DVD, “Tupac Shakur: Before I Wake”, which is currently featured on Amazon Prime. The documentary takes a look at the last year of Tupac Shakur’s life, the events surrounding his death, and follows up on the Las Vegas police investigation. “Tupac Shakur: Before I Wake” reached #1 in the charts in the United States, Australia, and the United Kingdom. In 2002, he served in the programming department of the newly merged WPWR-TV (UPN 50) and WFLD-TV (Fox 32). In 2003, he was hired as Program Director of Weigel Broadcasting, where he has helped launched the classic television stations, ME-TV (WWME-TV Chicago and WBME-TV Milwaukee) and ME-TOO (WMEU-TV), as well as the launch of Heroes and Icons nationally, and Bounce-TV in Chicago, and currently oversees the daily operations of the programming department. Since joining Weigel, Sean has also produced high school basketball and football games, including the championship game featuring Simeon and former Chicago Bull, NBA MVP, Derrick Rose. In addition to producing high school sports, he also produced the very first “Les Brown’s Salute to Excellence”. In 2007, Sean was also named one of the inaugural, “50 Men of Excellence”, by the Chicago Defender. He was nominated for an Emmy Award for producing the Chicago Public School High School Basketball Championship game. That same year, he also wrote and produced the Emmy® Award Winning Black History Month campaign, “Snapshots in Black History”, which featured rarely seen photos of famous African-American Chicagoans. In 2008, after the unfortunate passing of comedic legend, Bernie Mac, Sean wrote and produced an Emmy Award winning hour-long documentary featuring people who knew him best, in “A Tribute to Bernie Mac”. Sean is an active and proud Man of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. In January 2010, a devastating earthquake hit Haiti, Sean organized an Omega Psi Phi Relief Drive, in conjunction with New Faith Baptist Church, which collected over 3 tons of food, clothes, and medical supplies that were on the ground, in Haiti, in less than 5 days. The medical supplies immediately helped in the successful childbirth delivery via caesarian, saving the lives of both mother and child. In the summer of 2011, tornadoes tore through parts of the South, including wiping out areas of Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, Alabama. Sean organized another relief drive with New Faith Baptist Church (Matteson), and Josie Luster of Clintex Laboratories (Chicago), and coordinated with the effected Alabama Chapters of Omega Psi Phi (Alpha Tau and Alpha Phi), to get food and clothes to those who needed them most. In 2016, Sean helped organized Chicago’s largest water drive for Flint, Michigan, sending over 10 semi-trucks Flint residents, and traveled to Flint for six consecutive months to continuously help the residents. Also in 2016, Sean organized Ques4Peace, which held several rallies and marches throughout the city of Chicago to raise awareness to end violence in streets. Through this effort, Sean and Ques4Peace were featured on the BBC documentary, “Reggie Yates: To Live and Die in Chicago”, which was shown throughout Europe, and nationally on Netflix. Sean won the Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. contest for the honor of designing the Fraternity’s Centennial Cover for its national magazine, “The Oracle”, in 2011. In 2018, Sean won the International Service Award, and in 2019, he won the Fraternity’s highest honor, International Omega Man of The Year. Over the years, Sean has served as Technology Chair, Social Action Chair, Vice Basileus, Basileus, and was named the 2011 and 2017 Omega Man of the Year by Chi Lambda Lambda Chapter. He served 5 terms as the Tenth District Director of Public Relations, 2 Terms as Tenth District Keeper of Records and Seal, and recently elected as 1st Vice Tenth District Representative, covering the states of Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin, for Omega Psi Phi Fraternity, Inc. He has served as a board member at the Black Ensemble Theater, The Uplift Foundation, Stomping Out Gangs and Drugs, and The Richton Park Youth Athletic League. Sean was a Youth Football Coach for over 13 years with the Richton Park Raiders, and in 2011, he proudly coached Varsity Football team to their very first Super Bowl victory. In 2012, Sean was named “Father of the Year” by Jack and Jill of America, South Suburban Chicago Chapter. Sean counsels high school students, and serves as a mentor to prospective college students, and young adults. Sean is also a celebrity DJ, DJing for Doug E. Fresh, Chubb Rock, and Beyonce’s “Formation Tour” in Chicago. He is married to Fontella Long, President/CEO of Long Consulting Group, which develops financial reporting systems for international companies. Together they have a 24 year old daughter, Nia, who is Texas Tech University graduate, with a degree in Mathematics and a minor in Engineering.