Chicago Department of Aviation Commissioner Jamie L. Rhee is a leader in the aviation community, overseeing operations at both O’Hare and Midway International Airports – among the largest and most complex airport systems in the world. At the same time, Rhee maintains close ties to her local community and works as a dedicated advocate for children.
In early 2021, Rhee was elected to the board of directors of Airports Council International – North America, which works to strengthen the commercial aviation industry in the U.S. and Canada and promote cooperation between airport governing bodies. In addition, Commissioner Rhee also serves on the following boards: Airport Council International, Chicago/Gary Regional Airport, Choose Chicago Board of Directors, Midway Noise Compatibility Commission, O’Hare Noise Compatibility Commission, U.S. Travel Association Gateway Airports Council, and World Travel & Tourism Council.
Over the course of 28 years with the City of Chicago, Rhee has served multiple tours of duty at the airports. In fact, while in law school she started working as a customer service foreign language assistant at O’Hare. In 2008, Rhee was named the City’s chief procurement officer. Under her guidance, Chicago’s procurement reform efforts earned national and international recognition as thousands of small and diverse-owned businesses were certified and entered the talent pipeline. Rhee has overseen the purchasing of more than $2 billion in goods and services, authored articles and publications on aviation safety and security, and increased the accessibility of municipal contracts to minority, women, disabled, and veteran-owned businesses.
With an emphasis on equity and inclusion, Rhee has broadened the reach of certified and community-based Assist Agencies, which help connect residents and businesses of all sizes to opportunities across the City. She has worked extensively with Chicago Public Schools and City Colleges of Chicago to engage more young people from diverse backgrounds in aviation-related curriculum, and is a sponsor of the After School Matters’ AeroStar Avion Institute, which provides aviation experience and education for at-risk youth.
A steadfast advocate for accountability in government, Rhee and her team have developed a Code of Conduct for the Chicago airport community, detailing principles, values, and standards to be upheld by everyone working for and with the CDA.
Rhee is active with the March of Dimes in Chicago, as the SOS Children’s Villages Illinois – through which she and her husband have fostered children in need.
A small-town girl at heart, one of the things Rhee most enjoys about Chicago is its distinct and close-knit neighborhoods. She and her husband, Mike, live in the Humboldt Park community, and are parents to an adorable and precocious six-year-old. Rhee earned her undergraduate degree from Michigan State University, and a Juris Doctor from DePaul University.