Former Vice President National Election Finance Chairman Kamala Harris is opening a strategic advisory firm that will, in part, aim to help corporations and executives in the C-suite deal with social justice and politically charged issues.
Jon Henes, a longtime corporate restructuring attorney with the prestigious law firm Kirkland & Ellis, plans to start his new New York-based law firm around Labor Day, according to people who have been briefed on the matter.
The company plans to hire at least 15 employees initially and could expand operations to Washington, DC, Los Angeles and San Francisco, one person said.
The consultancy will take a multi-pronged approach, including a strategic corporate advisory arm that will provide traditional advice on recruitment practices such as union integration. It will also have a team that will focus on environmental, social and corporate governance, as well as workplace diversity, equity and inclusion, these people said.
The people cited in this story declined to be named as the details for the new company are not yet finalized.
A Kirkland & Ellis press release announcing Henes’ departure said he was on his way to starting a strategic advisory firm, but no further details.
“Over the past several years, in addition to my work at Kirkland, I’ve had the opportunity to delve into the world of politics and politics, and to open my eyes to the critical business need to be CEOs in the convergence of business, finance and law with social justice, Diversity, Inclusion and Politics, “Henes said in the press release.” It’s bittersweet to leave my Kirkland colleagues, many of whom I consider family, but I look forward to starting this new chapter in my career. “
He did not respond to CNBC’s follow-up requests for comment.
The company was founded when companies put pressure on their attitudes towards social justice and environmental issues from consumers and employees.
After Georgia passed electoral laws that critics deemed restrictive, companies felt pressured to respond. Several did so, including Major League Baseball, which moved its all-star game from Georgia to Colorado.
In one of the most recent examples of pressure, Toyota stopped making campaign contributions to Republican lawmakers that challenged election results.
Competition for such consulting firms is fierce, but many, especially those with high-profile contacts, are often successful.
Co-founded by Bill Clinton’s former right-hand man Doug Band, Teneo is known as an influential advisory group with ties to large corporations.
The same is true of WestExec Advisors, which according to reports from The Intercept and The American Prospect, has over 15 advisors entered the Biden administration. Antony Blinken co-founded WestExec and is now Secretary of State.
One of the other expected directors of Henes’ company, according to sources, is Alvin Tillery. Tillery is an adjunct professor at Northwestern University and director of the school’s Center for the Study of Diversity and Democracy.
Tillery has experience in running his own consulting company. He is the founder of Analytic Insights Consulting, which, according to the company’s website, “advises businesses, nonprofits, and government agencies looking to create a more diverse, equitable and inclusive work environment.” The company’s previous public clients include MGM International Resorts, Baker Demonstration School, the City of Evanston and Exelixis.
Should Tillery and Henes reach an official agreement, Tillery would continue his work at the school and take a leadership role in the newly formed consulting firm, one person said. Analytic Insights Consulting may have been involved in Henes’ newly founded company, this person noted.
Tillery did not respond to a request for comment.
Henes was Harris’ national finance chairman while running for president in the 2020 election and helped her raise at least $ 400,000 before starting raising money for Joe Biden, CNBC previously reported.
Henes also led fundraisers for both Democrat Jaime Harrison’s bid for the South Carolina Senate seat last year and former Citigroup executive Ray McGuire’s campaign for New York mayor’s candidacy in the Democratic primary in this year.
While Harris, Harrison, and McGuire’s runs were unsuccessful, his fundraising efforts for Henes were key to building contacts and potential partners and customers for his new businesses. Harris became vice president and Harrison is the new chairman of the Democratic National Committee.
Henes also developed strong corporate relationships while working for clients as a restructuring and corporate governance advisor. Kirkland’s website reveals that his previous clients include Ion Media, Avaya, and J.Jill.