Sean Tonner, President, Denver, R&R Partners

Inner Circle Q&A

What book have you given or recommended the most?
Alchemist by Paulo Coelho

If you could do another job for just one day, what would it be?
Sideline Assistant for Nick Saban in the 2017 Alabama National Championship Game

How would you describe your leadership style?
Servant Leadership

What are some industry trends that have an impact on your role as a leader?
Global digitization. It is transforming nations, markets, industries, and companies. Staying abreast of the ever-changing landscape of how humans interact is critical for 21st century leaders. 


As one of R&R’s most senior government affairs consultants and president of the agency’s Denver office, Sean embraces R&R’s political roots on a day-to-day basis. He is sought after by clients for his diplomatic skills in navigating complex political environments both internationally and domestically. Leading R&R’s new business development efforts, Sean embodies its past and future by representing what the agency does better than any other firm in its category. That is, embedding government affairs and communications into one cohesive unit.

Based in the “mile-high” city, Sean is known for his 360-degree thinking. By marrying online and offline tactics, he is a mastermind in creating campaigns that not only improve the political environment but also impact the real world. This often involves generating ideas and strategies for his clients that successfully exert pressure “inside and outside the dome.” His track record proves it.

Over the course of his career, he has served in deputy chief of staff positions, as well as worked on the campaigns of President George W. Bush, presidential contender Bob Dole, Colorado Governor Bill Owens, Colorado Senator Ben Nighthorse Campbell and Colorado Congressman Mike Coffman. In 2002, Sean was named a national rising star by Campaigns & Elections magazine after he engineered a nationally recognized get-out-the-vote program that resulted in the largest gubernatorial vote received in Colorado history. That same year, he founded an international affairs firm, Phase Line Strategies, which R&R acquired in 2012. His political work still takes him across the globe from France, Ghana and Mexico, to Central Asia.

Sean currently serves on the executive committee of the Young Presidents Organization Subcommittee on Global Diplomacy and Public Policy. As chair for the Americas, he will play an instrumental role in connecting top global CEOs with international dignitaries. He also sits on the Colorado chapter of the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition.

Having served in the U.S. Army and attended reconnaissance, ranger, desert and jungle warfare training, it’s no wonder that clients request Sean when the heat is on. They count on him to be two or three steps ahead of everyone else. Experienced in crisis communications, he has helped manage the reputations of national companies along the likes of Noble Energy and Walmart. He also brings experience in consumer and corporate communications, representing national brands such as RE/MAX, HealthONE and Western Union.

To Sean, there’s no such thing as “office hours.” Nonetheless, he still finds time to give back to communities in need. He and his family operate a charitable medical center in a small village named El Crucero, the poorest part of Nicaragua. The R&R Foundation has proudly adopted this charity; R&R employees annually visit this town and come bearing gifts for the village children, while providing medical and dental care. Casual and friendly soccer matches between R&R employees and village locals are also commonplace.

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