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a civic impact firm
powering progressive victories

For centuries, the mighty Ohio River divided North and South, serving as the natural extension of the Mason-Dixon Line. The spirit of that great tributary – the economic and cultural engine of a forward looking America – inspires our company today.

We’re a high-stakes strategy firm led by professionals from the highest levels of government, business and politics. Savvy, southern and strategic, we’ve assembled the region’s best practitioners, tactics, and technologies for electoral and policy success.


at the highest levels of politics and policy


we root for
every Saturday


Government + Business

partnerships + procurement

crisis communications

public outreach + community relations

Campaigns + Candidates

strategy + management

fundraising + compliance

paid outreach +
new media

Nonprofits + Advocates

legislative advocacy

civic engagement

membership +
fundraising drives


led campaigns and advocacy across the country


scored campaign wins throughout the region


Atlanta, Charlotte,
Fort Lauderdale, Jackson and Memphis


given to television, radio and internet news outlets


have featured our bylines and quotes


generated from ballot initiatives


on social media
and email


with local staff and offices


across business, government and politics


“It’s rare to find a team that commands respect inside the Beltway and around the country. That’s the strength of Ohio River South, and why they’re trusted to solve problems and deliver results.”

– Odie Donald, Executive Director of
Washington DC Workforce Investment Council

• • • • • • •

“Franklin gained a reputation for successful collaborations on policy challenges, organizing young voters and guiding some of the South’s leading lawmakers to the winner’s circle.”

– Georgia Trend Magazine, 40 Under 40

• • • • • • •

“Howard’s team works around-the-clock, and their rapid response outreach helped us beat expectations and continue winning primary contests.”

– Christopher Smith, African-American Outreach Director
for Bernie Sanders 2016



Karl Douglass

Karl Douglass is a principal with Ohio River South. He is a political operative with many years of experience, having served in roles including senior advisor to Jim Barksdale’s senatorial campaign, political director for Jason Carter’s gubernatorial campaign, finance director for Congressman Sanford Bishop, senior advisor to Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and regional political director for President Obama’s campaign.

Prior to becoming a full time political operative, Karl served as a corporate officer with Aflac for 14 years in the broadcast, corporate communications and compliance divisions. He completed his career with Aflac as second vice president and director of producer licensing. In that role, he led the business unit responsible for contract administration and licensing insurance associates in the U.S. He also served as the company’s liaison with the insurance departments in each state.

Karl was recognized as one of Georgia’s “40 Under 40” by Georgia Trend Magazine. He has served on numerous non-profit and corporate boards, including serving as chair of the Planning Advisory Commission and Water Board in Columbus, Ga., as well as on the board of directors for SunTrust Bank of West Georgia.

Howard Franklin

Howard is principal of Ohio River South and one of Georgia’s most successful democratic strategists. At 23, he was tapped for a leadership role by the late Maynard Jackson, the first African-American mayor of a major southern city. Since then, he has scored a string of legislative and electoral victories while promoting policies for a host of Southern lawmakers, and has served in virtually every corner of the public sector, including nonprofit, advocacy and government. Most recently, he worked in the Fulton County Chairman’s office as senior policy advisor, weighing in on a broad range of issues from healthcare to criminal justice. Prior to that, he developed outreach to business, political and academic leaders to help GeorgiaForward collaboratively shape statewide policy agenda.

In addition to advising global organizations like Save Darfur, Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America and the CDC Foundation, Howard managed a historic 2009 race that elected a new government in the Cayman Islands. In 2010, he made history again when he was elected the first male president of the Georgia League of Women Voters, the first chairman of the state democratic party’s African-American Caucus and inducted into the first Southern chapter of New Leaders Council.

In 2014, Howard was recognized as one of Georgia’s “40 under 40” by Georgia Trend Magazine, which wrote, “Franklin gained a reputation for successful collaborations on policy challenges, organizing young voters and guiding some of the South’s leading lawmakers to the winner’s circle.”

Sharon Powell
Sharon Powell is a public relations and public affairs professional with more than 17 years experience including campaign development, strategic counsel, crisis communications, message training, digital media services and business development. An expert on a broad range of issues, Sharon has excellent writing and reasoning skills, manages teams and cultivates business.Previously a director with Allison+Partners, Sharon was a leader out of their Atlanta office providing professional services to a diverse client list of companies, national trade groups and nonprofit organizations including, but not limited to, Center for Transportation and the Environment, Partnership for a Sustainable Georgia, GreenLaw, Atlanta Botanical Garden, CDC Foundation, National Association of Children’s Hospitals, ConnecTV, PRGX Global, Connolly, Blue Cross Blue Shield Louisiana, HealthyJackson, Partnership to Fight Chronic Disease, Hyundai Hope on Wheels, Adopt- A-Classroom and China AIDS Media Project. Prior to her agency experience, she served as assignment desk editor/production assistant for TV news affiliates in the southeast. Sharon’s career began in Atlanta as an intern with Cox Communications, Inc., where she supported the public affairs team in multiple areas including media, community and internal relations.Among many volunteer engagements, she serves on the marketing and communications professionals committee for Camp Twin Lakes, a Georgia non-profit that collaborates with nearly 60 different nonprofit organizations, each serving a different population, to create customized programs that teach campers to overcome obstacles and grow in their confidence and capabilities.
Christopher Smith
Christopher Smith is one of the leading campaign consultants and public affairs professionals in the country. As an experienced campaign staffer, radio personality and organizing trainer, Chris has managed and consulted numerous national, federal, state and local campaign operations. Most recently, he was the deputy national field director for Senator Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign, where he was responsible for the Field and Political operations in all 50 states and U.S. territories.His many accomplishments include managing one of the biggest upsets in U.S. history by winning a congressional race for a Democrat that leaned Republican by 14 percent in Mississippi. He has also worked on some of the biggest campaigns in national politics including those for Democratic Leader Senator Harry Reid, Senator Mary Landrieu, Congressman Sanford Bishop and Congressman Harold Ford Jr. Chris has served in Gov. Phil Bredesen’s (TN) administration, as Political Director for the Mississippi Democratic Party and worked for the Service Employee’s International Union.Chris is a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., Alpha Theta Chapter and Alpha Phi Omega Service Fraternity Inc.
Justin Spiller
Palm Beach County attorney Justin Spiller brings a wealth of professional and political experience to the team. For the past 10 years, Justin has been a practicing attorney in Florida, with a focus on corporate and real estate matters. His passion for politics overlapped with his professional life when he began working on election law issues and federal, state and local campaign reporting issues. He served as the treasurer for both U.S. Congressional and local campaigns and has organized and educated for voter protection on behalf of President Obama’s campaign in 2008 and 2012.Justin has served to advance Democratic values as the president of the Jacksonville Young Democrats, president of the Florida Young Democrats, second vice chair of the Duval County Democratic Executive Committee and vice chair of the Florida Democratic Party.Justin has an extensive background in community involvement, serving as a mentor and member on various boards, most notably, the United Way of Northeast Florida and the Jacksonville Urban League.
Rebecca Wallace
Rebecca Wallace is an accomplished communications specialist seeking to work with organizations that improve communities and the lives of the people who live in them. She has more than two decades of experience in cause campaigns and public-private initiatives, having implemented communications strategies for dozens of advocacy groups, voter campaigns, chambers of commerce and state and local governments.Her time at an international public relations agency followed by a small Atlanta public affairs firm allowed Rebecca to build on a foundation of expertise in economic development and sustainability issues, supporting clients such as the City of Atlanta Office of Sustainability, Atlanta Beltline, Atlanta Committee for Progress and Council for Quality Growth. Prior to her agency experience, Rebecca was the communications director for what is now the Georgia Department of Economic Development. There she launched numerous key initiatives to the public including the department’s regional service program and conducted several industry media tours throughout the state.A graduate of the Atlanta Regional Commission Regional Leadership Institute, Rebecca is the chair of the Center for Working Families, co-founder of Atlanta Farm to School, and is actively involved in her local public schools.
Savvy. Southern. Strategic.

©2018 Ohio River South. All rights reserved.

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