Gyata Simmons is the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Ridge Strategy Group, a public affairs and business development firm focused on helping clients achieve their goals by leveraging relationships and experience. Comfortable in both boardrooms and neighborhood meetings, Gyata has spent more than 15 years honing a unique expertise for public affairs strategy, community advocacy, business development and communications management in the public and private sectors.
Beginning in the Cook County State’s Attorney’s office and up through his work as a consultant and lobbyist with Serafin and Associates, Gyata has been embedded within the core of Chicago’s political, business and community-based strata. While at Serafin, Gyata established a name for himself as a true liaison and someone who can get projects completed, including assisting global companies in becoming entrenched in the Chicago market and advocating for local community programming groups.
Before joining the Serafin team, Gyata served as the Senior Manager of Public Affairs and Government Relations for Walmart Stores, Inc. He helped formulate the company’s market entry strategy into Chicago, the first urban area in America to welcome the world’s largest retailer. Continuing to provide services for both Walmart and Sam’s Club operations, Gyata continues to be a trusted advisor to the company and often weighs in on company business strategy across the country.
A skilled, multi-faceted communicator, Gyata has proven to be an effective relationship builder in both civic and professional affairs, negotiating multi-million dollar contracts, creating supply chain directives and working on community based-initiatives as a Professional Services Contract Negotiator in the City of Chicago Department of Procurement Services. Gyata’s work as an Assistant to Mayor Richard M. Daley in the City of Chicago Office of Intergovernmental Affairs provided him with valuable political, community, strategic planning and business experience.
As the Deputy Director of the Chicago Public School’s Office of Intergovernmental Affairs, he oversaw the school district’s government lobbying agendas at the federal, state and local levels. In addition to working with elected officials at each level of government, Gyata also worked with advocacy groups, community-based organizations and religious institutions to amass coalitions on behalf of a variety of social causes.
Gyata’s entry into private sector work began by leading the community outreach efforts of the Chicago 2016 Olympic Bid Committee in its pursuit of being awarded the 2016 Olympic Games. As the Director of Community Relations, he participated in over 400 meetings, events and presentations throughout the Midwest region in his efforts to manage and advance the bid organization’s strategy. Gyata was also instrumental in coordinating the Outreach Advisory Council and Workforce Development and Diversity subcommittee to research and integrate best practices of public private partnerships and community benefits agreements.
While Gyata’s work impacts wide-reaching areas and clientele, he maintains a keen awareness of how to manage relationships at the ground level. His work within the community and on the sidewalks of Chicago’s neighborhoods has emboldened his belief that meaningful change begins with first-hand interaction with the individuals of the city. His legislative knowledge and his communications expertise have given him the skills necessary to convert this understanding of Chicago’s people into to real and substantive civic change. For clients looking to grow profit and make a positive impact on the city, Gyata knows precisely how to get the job done.
Gyata has a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from Hampton University and a Juris Doctor degree from the Howard University School of Law. Gyata now resides in Chicago’s south suburbs with his wife, Dr. Leslie Baker Kimmons, and their two daughters, Layla and Morgan.