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International Conference on Asphalt and Traffic

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The 2020 Deborah Sawyer Diversity Award is presented to

Jamie L. Rhee


Chicago Department of Aviation

for making a positive impact on MBE/ WBE/DBE entrepreneurs.

In 2018 Jamie L. Rhee was named Commissioner of the Chicago Department of Aviation (CDA).  In this critical role, she manages one of the world’s busiest airport systems, comprised of O’Hare and Midway International Airports, which serve more than 100 million passengers each year and establish Chicago as a global leader for air cargo activity. 

Rhee began her career with the City of Chicago and has worked for nearly 24 years in various roles, most recently as the Chief Procurement Officer. In that role, Rhee oversaw a purchasing of $2 billion in goods and services for dozens of user departments in the City of Chicago, including the CDA, and the certification of thousands of minority-owned (MBE) women-owned (WBE) and disadvantaged business enterprises (DBE) including the Airport Concessionaire Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (ACDBE) program. 

She also played key roles in previous administrations having served as a Deputy Chief of Staff to the Mayor, and in various roles at the Departments of Law and Planning and Development. 

Throughout her impressive public service career, Rhee led the way by advocating and making positive changes for diverse and women business owners in Chicago.  She is renowned for her push for transparency in public contracting and her commitment to ethics.  This is evidenced by her ability to successfully serve Chicago through three mayoral administrators. 

 One of her first initiatives as Chicago's Chief Procurement Officer was to ensure diversity compliance accountability across all city agencies, an effort that now translates into more business for M/WBEs. Last year, Chicago awarded nearly $450 million worth of contracts to MBE/WBE certified firms.


Rhee's work has not gone unnoticed and she is a nationally known figure for her efforts. Earlier this year, she was appointed to the Airport Minority Advisory Council (AMAC) Board of Directors, with the Chairman calling her an "aviation powerhouse.”

I am humbled and so honored to be selected to receive this very prestigious award, named for a true powerhouse – Deborah Sawyer, Rhee said. “I want to thank Dr. Al-Khafaji and ICAT for their continued support for the Chicago Department of Aviation and for their commitment to diversity.”   


Ms. Jamie Rhee represents the faithful spirit of an exceptional professional whose life is shaped by her willingness to help disadvantaged businesses. Her effort on behalf women and minority businesses sets the high standards that are truly hard to match. We are deeply grateful for her service and dedication to worthy causes. Dr. Al-Khafaji