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Our Partners

Over 55 years of experience

Andre F. Garner

Managing Partner

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

Senior Partner

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.