Government Leaders Respond Following RFD Executive Director Mike Dunn’s Retirement Announcement


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Audrey Moon


Government Leaders Respond Following RFD Executive Director Mike Dunn’s Retirement Announcement
Over more than a decade, Dunn’s leadership brought RFD to new heights as economic engine in air cargo, job creation

ROCKFORD, Ill. (March 24, 2023) – Following the announcement by the Greater Rockford Airport Authority (GRAA) that Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD) Executive Director Mike Dunn will retire at the end of the year, government leaders responded with thanks and praise for his work to grow the economy, bring jobs to Illinois, and advocate on behalf of the Rockford region and State of Illinois.

Dunn announced Thursday he would retire after more than 12 years in the position. The GRAA Board of Commissioners also voted Thursday evening to appoint Zack Oakley,  RFD’s current Deputy Director, as the new Executive Director effective Jan. 1, 2024.

Comments from state and local leaders in response to the announcement included:

U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL)
“A longtime friend, Mike Dunn has been a passionate advocate for the Rockford International Airport (RFD). In his two decades serving on the Board, Mike has prioritized expanding the airport’s services, which is now a recognized leader in international cargo operations.  Thanks to Mike’s leadership of the airport and a strong partnership with the Illinois Congressional Delegation, RFD secured millions in federal funding for infrastructure improvements and upgrades.  It is now a top location for cargo operations and aviation maintenance and supports thousands of jobs.  I’m proud of the work we’ve done together, and I congratulate Mike on his work for RFD and the region.”

Gov. JB Pritzker (D-IL)
“On behalf of the State of Illinois, I want to thank Mike Dunn for his years of service at the Chicago Rockford International Airport. Under Mike’s leadership,Chicago Rockford International Airport became the fastest-growing cargo airport in the nation and a leading economic driver for the region — supporting 21,000 jobs, fostering billions in economic revenue, and connecting millions of visitors to Illinois year in and year out. Mike, congratulations on your retirement and thank you for your commitment to our great state.”


Mayor Tom McNamara (`D-City of Rockford)

Under Mike’s leadership, we have seen the airport grow exponentially, positively impacting our city, region and state. When Mike became Executive Director of the airport, it housed approximately 1,500 jobs. Today, as he retires, the airport houses more than 8,700 jobs, has a $4.7 million economic impact on our a region, and is a catalyst for more than 20,000 jobs. In addition to his tenure at the airport, Mike also helped create and lead the Rockford Area Venues and Entertainment Authority in overseeing operations of the Coronado Theatre and BMO Center. Through this work, he stabilized the finances and grew entertainment opportunities for all. I’m grateful for the service Mike has provided to our community throughout his career.”