The Cook County Board of Commissioners confirmed President Preckwinkle’s appointment of Jennifer “Sis” Killen to superintendent of the County’s Department of Transportation and Highways (DoTH) this week. She will serve as DoTH’s first female superintendent in the department’s 108-year history.
Killen started her career at the County as Bureau Chief for DoTH’s Transportation and Planning section in 2012 where she oversaw the traffic, project studies, programming, agreements and right-of-way divisions. In 2013, she was promoted as the first female assistant superintendent of DoTH where she assisted the superintendent with all department functions, overseeing six bureaus that perform planning, design, construction, maintenance and administrative activities. Killen co-led the completion of the department’s first long-range plan in over 75 years, creating a multimodal policy framework to guide transportation investments.
“Sis has been a vital voice on transportation-related projects within the region,” said President Preckwinkle. “She truly understands the critical role equity plays when it comes to transportation investments that support community growth throughout the County. I am grateful to Sis for her dedication and commitment to ensuring we continue to bolster economic development through equitable funding.”
Killen says she is honored to be the first woman to lead this department and takes pride working in a profession where her work creates a positive impact in people’s lives.
“I’ve always been fascinated with construction, I loved building life sized toys for my siblings and friends, and knew I wanted to pursue this field even as a child,” said Killen. “I was one of very few women studying engineering at the time, because it has always been a male dominated field. I am grateful to President Preckwinkle for this opportunity to help shape how people travel throughout our community and across our region and hope to serve as a role model for young women looking to pursue careers in engineering.”
Killen is a registered Professional Engineer and Professional Traffic Operations Engineer. She is also a member of the Women’s Transportation Seminar, chairwoman for Innovation in Construction, Asphalt and Transportation and Disadvantaged Business Enterprise Focus Board. In 2019, Killen was honored as ‘Woman of the Year’ by the WTS Greater Chicago Chapter of the International Transportation Organization and a 2019 graduate of the University of Chicago’s Civic Leadership Academy.
Before making the move to the County, Killen spent 13 years in private consulting providing engineering services to municipal clients. Before she began her consulting work, Killen completed a cooperative education internship at Chicago Area Transportation Study now known as Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning where he served as Chairwoman of the Transportation Committee from 2015-2018 during the development of the region’s ONTO 2050 planning update.
Killen received her Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering in 1999 from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
She succeeds John Yonan who was promoted to Bureau Chief of the County’s Bureau of Asset Management this year.