Mark R. Mills has spent a career successfully working with leaders in business, politics, public affairs and nonprofits to expand their impact, influence and voice in the public arena.
He develops and teaches tailored civic engagement and nonpartisan business-focused public leadership programs and workshops and also conducts seminars and executive coaching sessions for leaders on public persuasion strategies to motivate and mobilize audiences behind their great ideas.
Mark is president of Mills Strategic Communications, Inc. and is also a public speaker on business-focused civic and public engagement and political trends that impact the business community.
Mark's leadership and persuasion systems have been refined from years in the fires of political and public engagement and messaging as a former long-time communications director and spokesperson to a United States Senator (retired), messaging strategist on numerous political and public affairs campaigns, as well as a business public relations consultant.
In 2008, a lunchtime conversation with an Orlando business leader about the need to engage more business-minded leaders in the political process became the idea for a leadership program outlined on the back of a napkin. The goal: train business-minded leaders, regardless of partisan affiliation, to explore how to transition from private to public life - as an elected leader, appointee or policy influencer - and consider how their business experience could address public issues.
Despite predictions that the idea would fail miserably because of the nature of politics, the effort far exceeded what Mark or the organizers had expected because of the outstanding support and teamwork of Orlando business leaders. Graduates emerged to become public leaders and the idea attracted the attention of business leaders in other markets. To date, over 700 competitively-selected business professionals have been trained under the template with programs educating and engaging leaders in San Diego, Virginia and other Florida markets, large and small. The original program in Orlando remains strong.
Graduates have gone on to serve in elected and appointed office as state legislators, mayors, local officials and appointees to critical boards and commissions where they are using their professional experience, skills and talent to impact public policy.
Citing the effort in Florida, Florida Trend business magazine named Mark and the program’s co-founder as a Business Newsmaker of the Year in 2011.
CIVIC ENGAGEMENT IN A DEVELOPING NATION
To pass along the rich legacy of business engagement in civic and social concerns, business leaders in Belize contracted with Mark to develop and deliver a civic leadership program for emerging entrepreneurs. The six-month program exceeded benchmarks for success and drew more women business leaders than men.
As a strategic messaging expert, Mark has worked with business clients from diverse fields to communicate their great ideas.
While he no longer takes on clients as a political consultant, he has served as message strategist for numerous political and public affairs campaigns, including a successful voter referendum that saved Florida taxpayers at least $25 billion.
He occasionally still appears in the media to blither about politics. Mark was an analyst for a political news special on Fox35Orlando that was nominated for a regional Emmy in 2016.
He and his wife Virgi are the parents of two grown sons and a daughter-in-law.
Now living in the Orlando area, he is a native of Ohio and holds a Bachelor’s degree from Ohio University where he worked hard (and sometimes studied) to become a broadcast journalist wanting to cover politics. He received a reporting award on a controversial pyramid-money scheme in Southeast Ohio.
Instead of covering politics, he began working on campaigns in his early 20s and got an insider's view of some tremendous moments in history.
THE TWO CITIES
He entered seminary at the age of 40 as a calling to earn a Master’s degree in Theological Studies. Looking back, he realizes that it was a period of political detox that allowed him to transform his mind and path going forward -- especially when it meant preparing and positioning good people to enter the political arena.