by Catherine Brinkman

Lots of people aspire to run for public office for the glory of it.  Then there are the people that get so fed up with the current scene that they run to influence change themselves.  It isn’t a secret, to be a viable candidate you need a strong message, money and an advisor that can help you navigate the political minefield of a campaign.  Enter Howard Franklin, a principal of Ohio River South, one of Georgia’s most successful democratic advisors.

Howard has earned his success, being in the political game for 15 years.  Growing up in Detroit, his parents worked at General Motors, and like them Howard was engineer minded.  He worked hard in High School, wanted to become a chemical engineer but, then he went into AP English and all of that changed.  “The better and better I got in English, the less and less I liked Math.  I was part of an inner-city enrichment youth program that toured HBCUs for one week then I applied to schools with Journalism programs,” said Howard.

He was accepted to Morehouse College on a full-scholarship however, due to low enrollment, the university’s journalism program was dropped.  Instead, Howard received a double major in English and Sociology.  He stayed active in the journalism world, writing for the school newspaper.  His senior year at Morehouse Howard was the managing editor of the paper.  After college Howard worked as a technical writer for a few startups and found himself transitioning to a job at a prestigious PR firm before being called to politics.

When Howard was 23 he got tapped by Maynard Jackson to run a political non-profit, American Voters League.  As CEO of the organization, this was Howard’s first job in politics.  It was 2002 when the organization launched.  Mayor Jackson was an excellent mentor and role model for Howard, serving as the first black mayor of Atlanta.  More impressive, Jackson was the first African American mayor to represent any major southern city.  Unfortunately, the former mayor passed in 2003, suffering a heart attack.  While the mentorship was short, the effects were lasting.

Howard pressed on with his political career.  There are a lot of highlights spanning his 15 years.  In 2008 he founded Firehouse Phones, a full-service telephone firm.  When you get the automatic phone calls from candidates a few days before election day, that’s Howard.  For those people that are next level political followers and want to know more about what’s happening in the political realm on a deeper level, Howard is there again.  This time with Friendly Amendment.  If you have lobbying needs-turn to Howard.  For a little over 3 years, he has been a Regulatory Affairs lobbyist between government regulatory agencies and some of the largest Fortune 500 companies with locations in the state of Georgia.

One of the most impressive facts on Howard’s resume; he was the first male President of the Georgia League of Women Voters.  The League of Women Voters has a set of checks and balances in place to make sure that they remain non-partisan.  Howard was part of that checks and balances, being a young male on the board.  He was nominated to become the Vice President of the statewide board, as the organization was encouraged that a young black man was interested in their group.  He won.

A few months into her term, the President of the group resigned to give more time to her family.  She nominated Howard to replace her.  Not wanting to step on anyone’s toes, Howard waited and asked if anyone else wanted the position.  When no one else stepped forward, Howard accepted the nomination and became the first male President of League of Women Voters. Icing on the cake, during his term he hosted a national convention in Atlanta.  This fact alone speaks volumes to Howard’s appeal and the respect he garners.

A large part in how Howard has become so successful is his willingness to try many things.  From launching new non-profits to running Amir Farokhi’s campaign.  Amir became the first Iranian American to be elected to the Atlanta City Council.  “We need to succeed in getting different stories heard.  It is a big decision when you are deciding if you are going to run for a local race or for a statewide position.  We need good candidates for all positions, including Labor Board, Ag Board and statewide office.”

#nodaysoff is how Howard thinks.   There is no day off, “when you are involved in media or politics.  There’s something always going ons.”  Howard is working on building a political empire with Ohio River South.  His firm helps clients understand how government campaigns and non-profits blend together to improve lives.  There are 12 subject matter experts on staff to ensure clients get the highest calibrate of consulting.  As someone who still has 2 years to qualify to make it onto Georgia Trend’s 40 under 40 he has some time to oversee his empire as it grows.

To learn more about Ohio River South, you can visit their website at and follow Howard on Twitter @iruncampaigns

About the writer: Catherine Brinkman has a sales career spanning 2 decades.  She has won numerous awards including Rookie of the Year and Silver Sales Associate for Dale Carnegie, a global training company.  In early 2016, Catherine started her own consulting business, partnering with sales and marketing teams to increase revenue. She works with everyone from Silicon Valley giants to small startups. She has a fun, comic approach to her consulting, having studied satirical writing at The Second City.  She can be found at and on Twitter @catbrinkman


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