Roderick Hawkins joined Advance Illinois in May 2019 to lead communications, marketing and media outreach strategies for the nationally recognized public education thought leader.
Before joining Advance Illinois, Hawkins was Deputy Chief of Staff for Public Engagement in the office of former Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. In this role he led the Mayor’s Office of Public Engagement and connected Chicago residents to the Mayor’s Office through direct outreach, cultural events, and community forums on issues that impacted the city. While at City Hall, he was a key advisor on neighborhood investment, community relations and stakeholder engagement with an intentional focus on communities that have been historically underserved. Hawkins and his team also provided community outreach counsel to city departments and agencies.
Prior to the Emanuel administration, Hawkins was Vice President of External Affairs at the Chicago Urban League, one of the region’s largest civil rights and economic development organizations.
While at the Urban League, he led a rebranding of the organization as well as a strategy to increase its social media presence, stakeholder outreach and special event marketing. In addition, he represented the Urban League in the Illinois Unites for Marriage campaign, the statewide effort that secured marriage equality in Illinois prior to the historic 2015 Supreme Court ruling.
Before his tenure at the Chicago Urban League, Hawkins was the Director of Communications for the Louisiana Family Recovery Corps, an agency created to restore the lives of families affected by Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. From 2004 to 2006, he was the Deputy Press Secretary to Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, where he played a major role in the communications response Hurricanes Katrina and Rita. Hawkins was the Communications Associate at The Chicago Community Trust from 2001 to 2004. While there led the launch the Trust’s philanthropic initiatives in the African American and Latino communities.
Roderick Hawkins’ civic engagement includes serving on the national board of directors of Lambda Legal, the nation’s largest legal organization serving the LGBTQ+ community and people living with HIV and the iHEART Media Chicago Local Advisory Board. In 2018 he was recognized as one of Chicago’s notable LGBTQ executives in Crain’s Chicago Business.
A native of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, Hawkins is a graduate of Louisiana State University.