RFD executive director to retire after more than 12 years in position

Published: Friday, March 31, 2023

Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) executive director Mike Dunn will retire at the end of the year after more than 12 years in the position.

The Greater Rockford Airport Authority (GRAA) board of commissioners voted to appoint Zack Oakley, RFD’s current deputy director, as the new executive director from January 1.

Dunn said: “When I first started, the growth potential at RFD was untapped and enormous. Now, it’s a top 15 cargo airport in the US and an economic driver connecting the world’s supply chains while growing jobs right here in the region.”

From 2001 to 2011, Dunn served as a commissioner on the Board of Commissioners, with the last eight of those years serving as board chairman. He was appointed executive director at the airport in 2012.

In a press release, RFD said that Dunn’s career is highlighted by cargo expansion and growth over the past five years. In 2018, RFD was named the fastest-growing cargo airport in the world and is currently the 14th largest cargo airport in the US.

“RFD became an engine for job growth under Dunn’s leadership. According to a 2020 Illinois aviation economic impact analysis, RFD generated $4.7bn in economic impact, the third-most in Illinois behind Chicago’s Midway and O’Hare airports,” the airport said.

Oakley is the current deputy director of planning and operations at the airport, overseeing the planning and construction of more than $150m of air cargo infrastructure improvements.

“He also manages relationships, drives innovation, and works with airline stakeholders on the next phases of infrastructure improvements to continue to support air cargo growth at RFD,” said the airport.

He has worked full-time with the airport since 2006, starting as an operations and facilities specialist before he was promoted to a supervisor, then operations manager, and then to his current role in 2017.

“In my 17 years at RFD, I have played a key role in shaping and delivering change. I am looking forward to continuing to grow and provide economic opportunities to the region, expanding our cargo operations and passenger destinations, operating a safe and secure airport for all our users, engaging the local community, and providing the best passenger experience possible for all travelers,” Oakley said.