Thank you, Rob Portman

“It’s amazing what you can get done if you listen to and respect others’ opinions,” Rob Portman commented recently as he addressed a full house of Government Strategies Group’s clients, business and community leaders to hear from former Senator Portman in his first event as a non-elected official.

After thirty years of serving Ohioans in Washington, first as a US Representative for the OH-2; later, as the United States Trade Representative during the George W. Bush Administration; and most recently as our United States Senator, Rob announced last January that he would not be seeking re-election.

As one of the most prolific legislators in history, Rob authored or co-authored nearly 200 pieces of bipartisan legislation during his time in office. He stated that his greatest accomplishment was the process by which he was able to get things done in Washington: by working across the aisle to find common ground and build coalitions to bring about meaningful results.

According to Rob, one of the greatest physical representations of the value of bipartisanship was the recent announcement about the Brent Spence Bridge. After five Presidential administrations’ promises to do something about the quickly deteriorating bridge resulted in no progress, the project was finally accomplished by working across the aisle. As Rob recalled, “We grew it out from the middle to find common ground that effectively deals with critical infrastructure challenges.” After thirty years of talk, the bipartisan work on this bill enabled this historic investment in infrastructure to finally become reality.

As Rob discussed his greatest accomplishments in Washington, he recalled his work in Ukraine where he focused his efforts since 2014 to help Ukrainians support their quest for freedom. He has traveled to Ukraine many times, co-founded the bipartisan Ukraine Caucus, and wrote into law the Ukrainian Security Assistance Initiative, legislation that has been critical to ensuring that Ukrainians can get the training and equipment they need to stand up to Russian forces. In Rob’s words, “We promised to protect [the Ukrainians] when they decided to join the EU, give up their nuclear weapons, and turn their backs on a corrupt Russian-backed government.”

For all of Rob’s many accomplishments there were also some inevitable frustrations, including his disappointment with President Biden for not working harder on trade agreements. He believes this is a mistake because “trade is a valuable tool critical to maintaining our competitive edge, and we must continue to deploy this tool in service of American workers, manufacturers, farmers, and service providers.” The country’s immigration process has also been an ongoing source of great frustration because “we have to find a proper, legal way to get people through the front door and give people a respectful way to get here. We have too many people coming in illegally and Fentanyl flooding the border is a huge problem,” he said. Rob remains hopeful that Congress can somehow work together to address these issues – but the key is finding common ground to get there.

As far as what is next, Rob said he will likely pursue an academic path and dedicate his time and efforts to encourage civility and public service. Additionally, he may work with a DC-based think tank and he plans to spend time working in his family’s business, The Golden Lamb, Ohio’s oldest continually operating business. He is also looking forward to spending more time with his family and friends.

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Anne C. Sesler

Director of Public Affairs and Strategy

Anne Sesler brings more than twenty years’ experience in public affairs consulting to Government Strategies Group. Anne works with local elected officials, state legislators, reporters and community leaders on behalf of corporate and non-profit clients developing community outreach and engagement strategies, conducts media relations, builds grassroots support for projects, and conducts communication with stakeholders and legislators.

Anne lends her public policy and political communication experience beyond GSG to her role as Vice Chair of the Hamilton County Democratic Party. Over the years, she’s offered political counsel to both state and local campaigns, including Preschool Promise, Ohio Jobs and Growth (the casino ballot initiative), United for Jobs and Ohio’s Future (Third Frontier), and many others. Anne lives in Mt. Lookout with her husband, Bryan.

Focus areas: 

  • Local government relations
  • Coalition building
  • Media relations and communications
  • Crisis communications

Driven by:

  • Making Cincinnati a better place for all

In the community:

  • Leadership Cincinnati Class 47
  • Cincinnati Planning Commission member
  • Lunken Airport Oversight and Advisory Board Chair
  • Cincinnati Democratic Committee Co-Chair
  • Hamilton County Democratic Party, Vice Chair
  • Mt. Lookout Community Council member

Charles “Chip” Gerhardt

President & CEO

Chip Gerhardt has made government affairs, economic development, and issue advocacy his life’s work. He’s worked for decades in the public and private sectors, and advocated at the local, state, and federal levels of government. In 2007, he used that experience to found Government Strategies Group, a full-service government relations firm. At GSG, he works directly with clients, helping them navigate the complicated intersection of politics, public policy, and business.

In his many years in public policy, Chip has been involved in significant policies including; creation of tax increment financing districts, the Clean Ohio program, Cincinnati City Center Development Corporation, and most importantly, the passage of the Achieving a Better Life Experience (ABLE) Act. He has also been at the forefront of some of the biggest developments in Greater Cincinnati, including the Horseshoe (now Hard Rock) Casino, TQL Stadium for FC Cincinnati, parking garage structures at The Banks, and the redevelopment of the @580 building. Rarely is there a public policy endeavor in Cincinnati that does not involve GSG.

Chip received his B.B.A in Marketing from the University of Notre Dame and his Juris Doctor from the St. Louis University School of Law. He lives in Anderson Township with his wife Jane. Son Charlie is a local chef and children Hank and Anne have completed their education and started lives of their own.

Focus areas:

  • State and local government relations
  • Economic development
  • Issue advocacy

Driven by:

  • A lifelong interest in the political system has driven Chip to a career in public policy and politics. As a parent of three, one with Down syndrome, has compelled him to promote public policies designed to help others. Whether it is enabling financial independence for people with disabilities, advancing funding for housing families facing homelessness, or assisting with economic development projects, Chip involves himself in things that make a positive difference. 

In the community:

  • Hamilton County Board of Elections member
  • Current Board Member for Ensemble Theatre Cincinnati, People Working Cooperatively, Corporation for Findlay Market, goVibrant, and the African American Chamber of Commerce
  • Former Chairman of the Board for the National Down Syndrome Society
  • Former board member of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden, the Cincinnati Museum Center, the Cincinnati Metropolitan Housing Authority, the Clermont County Chamber of Commerce, and the Down Syndrome Association of Greater Cincinnati
  • Cincinnati Magazine’s 300 of the Region’s Most Powerful Business Leaders, 2021-2022
  • Cincy Magazine Power 100, 2011-2022