Cook County Department of Transportation and Highways (DoTH) Assistant Superintendent Jennifer “Sis” Killen is the recipient of the 2019 Woman of the Year Award by the Chicago chapter of Women in Transportation Seminar (WTS) International. Killen will be recognized at the chapter’s annual awards banquet on May 9.
According to WTS, the award recipient must be a leader in transportation who’s made an outstanding contribution to the transportation industry. She must also directly contribute toward the advancement of women and minorities through programs or opportunities in the transportation field. She must support women who’ve advanced the credibility and reputation of women in transportation.
Killen joined Cook County in 2012 as chief engineer of project development. In 2013, she was promoted to assistant superintendent at DoTH. She is the first woman to hold this position in the department’s more than 100-year history.
Killen’s role has evolved significantly during her seven years with Cook County, and she has been instrumental in the transformation of the agency from a road and bridge maintenance department to one focused on a broader range of transportation projects designed to foster economic development. She is heavily involved in the Department’s growth of a diverse technical team and her positioning of staff into leadership roles working in collaboration with sister agencies and municipal partners.
She led the completion of the County’s long range, multi-modal transportation plan, Connecting Cook County, which established policy priorities to serve as a blueprint for guiding investment. Killen also oversees Invest in Cook, an annual grant program designed to assist local communities with infrastructure projects to promote economic development and enhance the quality of life of Cook County residents.
“I am so proud of the work Sis has done on behalf of the residents of Cook County,” said Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle. “The transformational changes she has helped to spearhead have, and will continue to, make a profound impact on the region’s infrastructure and economic development, especially in traditionally underserved areas throughout Cook County.”
Killen is active in the transportation industry. She is the chairwoman of the Chicago Metropolitan Agency for Planning (CMAP) Transportation Committee, guiding the development of the region’s ONTO 2050 plan. She is also chairwoman of the Innovations in Construction, Asphalt and Transportation Conference’s DBE Focus Board, which works to advance disadvantaged, minority and women business enterprises through increased opportunity.
She is a member of the 2019 University of Chicago Civic Leadership Academy, an interdisciplinary leadership group which brings together the public sector and nonprofits to build a better Chicago.
Prior to her work with the County, she spent 13 years in the private sector, with a focus on preliminary and design engineering studies. Killen received a bachelor of science in civil engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, is a licensed professional engineer and professional traffic operations engineer.