About KNI Communications

We work with elected officials, organizations and businesses who share our commitment to creating better communities. We offer a diverse array of services to help you develop and communicate your message to the audience you need to reach.

Whether we are creating websites for entrepreneurial businesses in Chicago’s Uptown neighborhood – where our office is located – or assisting economic development efforts in South Sudan, the world’s newest nation, we bring passion, energy, dedication and creativity to our work.

We have worked with political campaigns at every level of government - from School Board to President of the United States. We have led advocacy efforts on issues including tobacco prevention, workplace safety, genocide education and breast cancer research. We hope you will learn more about our work through this website, and that you will contact us if we can ever be of service to you.

Our Team

Sean Tenner
President & Founder

KNI Communications President Sean Tenner has spent his career working for organizations and officials dedicated to social justice and the public interest. Tenner served on President Obama’s campaign staff during both his U.S. Senate and Presidential campaigns and has worked for 20 years to successfully elect Democrats at every level of government. He has held leadership roles in a wide variety of innovative non-profit organizations addressing both local and global issues.

One of Tenner’s personal passions is addressing the alarming rise of hate crimes, bigotry and intolerance in our current political climate. He helps lead Illinois public policy for the Simon Wiesenthal Center, one of the world’s leading anti-hate groups. The Center runs the acclaimed Museum of Tolerance and carries on the legacy of the Holocaust survivor and acclaimed Nazi-hunter Simon Wiesenthal.

Tenner was appointed by Illinois Governor Pat Quinn in November 2012 – and reappointed in 2015 – to the Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission following years of human rights work. On the Commission, he works alongside legislators and other state leaders to develop initiatives related to holocaust and genocide education. He was an early leader in the Save Darfur movement in Illinois and works closely with refugees from the violence in Darfur and South Sudan who have built new lives in Chicago. Tenner also works with Chicagoans who fled Apartheid in South Africa, serving on the Board of Color Me Africa Fine Arts which brings Apartheid-era protest artists to Chicagoland to share their stories and their lessons in perseverance.

Tenner has done work related to post-conflict reconciliation in both Rwanda and Northern Ireland, and has also been profiled by CNN for his work founding the Uptown-based Abolition Institute, which successfully advocated for $4.5 million in federal funding to fight modern day slavery in West Africa.

As a former President of Susan G. Komen for the Cure’s Chicagoland Affiliate, Tenner has worked for years with state leaders including Illinois House Majority Leader Greg Harris and State Senator Sara Feigenholtz to pass landmark pieces of breast cancer legislation in the Illinois General Assembly: requiring insurance coverage of breast cancer screenings recommended by physicians, requiring insurance coverage of medical costs related to cancer clinical trials, establishing numerous crucial new state programs to fight breast cancer through the “Reducing Breast Cancer Disparities Act,” and requiring insurance coverage and state standards for potentially lifesaving clinical breast exams. Tenner is also working to address the epidemic of youth suicides through his work on the Board of Directors of Hope for the Day / Sip of Hope -- one of the nation’s most innovative mental health organizations.

He has worked for some of the most prominent elected officials and organizations in Illinois and Washington, DC – including President Barack Obama (US Senate Primary and General Elections, 2004 and Presidential Campaign, 2008), the Illinois House of Representatives Democratic Majority, Washington, DC City Council Chairman Phil Mendelson, Evanston (IL) Mayor Steve Hagerty and the late Aurora (IL) Mayor Tom Weisner. He has helped elect numerous members of the Illinois judiciary, the Illinois legislature, the Chicago City Council and the Washington, DC City Council. News outlets have touted Tenner’s “enviable record of success in the judicial campaigns he’s quarterbacked.” and his team has won over 25 Judicial campaigns in recent cycles. He served as lead consultant on the successful 2018 campaign of Cam Davis, President Obama’s Great Lakes protection lead, who won the largest number of write-in votes in modern Illinois history – beating a state record previously held by President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. In March of 2020, voters in his home 46th Ward of Chicago elected him Democratic Committeeman.

Tenner is a native of Naperville, Illinois and a graduate of Georgetown University in Washington, DC. He lives in the Buena Park neighborhood of Chicago with his wife Shiwali, who founded the non-profit Indian dance organization Tribhang to raise awareness of global women’s rights issues. He is proud of his mother Nancy, a former pre-school teacher and his father Gene who was recently honored by the City of Chicago as 46th Ward Senior of the Year for his tireless community work.

 

Reverend Mitchell Johnson

Reverend Mitchell Johnson has been a Chicagoland community leader for over two decades. He and his wife, Cook County Judge Sharon O. Johnson, live with their wonderful children in Calumet City, Illinois.

Reverend Johnson is a nationally recognized economic development expert who has helped hundreds of churches serve as catalysts for economic growth and empowerment in their communities. He is a member of the African American Chamber of Commerce, the National Forum of Black Public Administrators, and Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc., where he serves as the Chaplin of the Upsilon Sigma Chapter.

Johnson is also the Chaplin of the National Policy Alliance (NPA). The NPA is composed of the major organizations representing black public officials from federal, state and local levels of government throughout the country, as well as the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies. The NPA is the nation’s preeminent think tank focused on issues of particular concern to the African-American community.

In addition to his work on behalf of KNI Communications’ clients, Johnson also serves as the Executive Director of My Community Plan Foundation (MCPF). In his work with MCPF, Johnson helps direct financial resources to approximately 5,000 churches and other non-profit organizations. Johnson’s focus on community economic development and collaboration has led to roles serving as Executive Director of Developing Communities Project (DCP) – a position previously held by President Barack Obama – and as

Economic Development Officer for the Baptist State Convention of Illinois.

Reverend Johnson’s work at DCP resulted in community bonding companies, as well as local minority owned electric companies, receiving contracts for public sector projects including the Chicago Transit Authority (CTA) Redline upgrade. His work also helped foster the growth of community based private enterprises in underserved communities.

Johnson serves as Executive Pastor for New Seasons Church in Chicago. He also served at Joy Fellowship Baptist Church as the Associate Pastor of Community Affairs and Evangelism concurrently with his Presidency of the Associate Ministers’ Division of the Southside Christian Fellowship District Association, United Baptist State Convention of Illinois, Inc.

A graduate of Case Western Reserve University School of Law, Johnson graduated from Springfield Technical Community College in 1983. He later completed his undergraduate work at Fisk University in Nashville, TN in 1986. His further studies included studying law at Downing College in Cambridge, England and at the University of Connecticut School of Law in Stores, Connecticut.

 

Thom Karmik
Communications Strategist

Thom Karmik has a unique set of relationships and skills developed through his more than 25 years in journalism and politics.

Karmik was the producer of the multi-Emmy Award winning news commentary segment, Walter Jacobson’s Perspective from 1996-2002 and has worked on political campaigns at the local, state, and federal levels – both in Illinois and throughout the nation. Additionally, Karmik has served as communications lead for non-profit organizations and higher education institutions including the Illinois Institute of Technology.

A resident of Chicago’s Hermosa neighborhood and Chloride, Arizona, he is also a baseball historian and photographer with a particular interest in the first 50 years of the game and the experiences of African American players in the pre-integration era.

His original research for his blog, Baseball History Daily, has been cited in several books and newspapers. His photography has also appeared in books and prominent travel websites.

 

Martin Doherty
Social Media & Digital
















Advertising Consultant

Martin Doherty grew up in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago. As the son of an Irish immigrant and union carpenter, he was raised around politics and public service. Doherty has worked on and volunteered with several campaigns at all levels of government, from Bernie Sanders' 2016 presidential campaign to Cook County judicial races and aldermanic campaigns for the Chicago City Council.

While attending the University of Kansas, he worked as Government Relations Director for the university's Student Senate - one of the most powerful and autonomous student governments in the United States, with control over a $25 million budget and important university policies - where he organized GOTV drives that aided in record youth turnout in the 2018 midterms. In that position, he also lobbied both the Kansas State Legislature and the United States Congress to support strengthening Title IX and giving institutions clear guidelines on how to address cases of sexual misconduct. Additionally, he fought for crucial higher ed funding restorations and funding for the expansion of mental health services at higher ed institutions nationwide.

Martin has run successful social media and digital advertising operations for numerous political campaigns throughout Illinois and works with clients to develop effective digital strategies for their campaign, non-profit, or business.

 

Dave Kunicki
   

Dave Kunicki has over 15 years of fundraising experience, and has served in the nonprofit sector at the managerial level since 2007. Dave has extensive experience specifically with strategic planning, capital and planned giving campaigns, individual and corporate major gifts, grant writing, special event management, targeted appeals, as well as board, staff and volunteer development and management.

Prior to joining KNI, Dave served as Executive Director for Hope for the Day (HFTD), where he helped grow the annual budget 12-fold since 2015. At HFTD, he also co-created Sip of Hope, a social enterprise coffee company created to help fund the organization’s programs and operations. This project continues to receive global acclaim for being a groundbreaking “safe space” for those struggling with mental health issues, and has been featured in countless media stories, including the NBC Today Show twice, and recognition from President Barack Obama, U.S. Senator Richard Durbin and Illinois Governor JB Pritzker.

Dave has worked with a wide variety of charitable organizations, as well as advising several social justice and political campaigns. Collectively, he has helped raise over $12 million for various causes.

Dave is a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP), and holds an MBA in Nonprofit Management from Concordia University-Chicago, and a BA in Communications from the University of Dayton.