Zack Oakley assumes role as executive director of Chicago Rockford International Airport 

The Greater Rockford Airport Authority (GRAA) has announced that Zachary (Zack) Oakley is the new Executive Director of the Chicago Rockford International Airport (RFD), as of January 1.

As previously announced, the GRAA Board of Commissioners voted in March 2023 during a regularly scheduled meeting to appoint Oakley, who worked as RFD’s Deputy Director of Operations and Planning since 2017, as the new Executive Director effective Jan. 1, 2024.

“Zack’s leadership as the Deputy Director was instrumental in the growth, partnerships, and innovation we’ve seen at RFD. Zack’s new role as Executive Director puts RFD on a continued path of success, and we’re thrilled to celebrate this promotion,” said Paul Cicero, Chairman of the Greater Rockford Airport Authority Board of Commissions.

As Deputy Director of Planning and Operations at the airport, Oakley oversaw the planning and construction of more than $150 million in air cargo infrastructure improvements.

He also managed relationships, drove innovation, and worked with airline stakeholders on the next phases of infrastructure improvements to continue to support air cargo growth at RFD.

He is an Accredited Airport Executive (A.A.E.) through the American Association of Airport Executives, which is the highest professional designation and international achievement an airport professional can obtain. Only about 600 airport employees actively hold this designation.

Oakley 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 previous role as deputy director in 2017.

In 2023, RFD was announced as the 13th largest air cargo hub for landed weight by the FAA, surpassing Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta (ATL) airport. It marked the fourth consecutive year for RFD to see an increase in its rankings.

“In my 18 years at RFD, I have played a key role in shaping and delivering change” Oakley said.

“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.

“RFD will continue its growth trajectory focused on expansion and more innovation and sustainability in both passenger and cargo operations.

“I am extremely excited and grateful for the opportunity, and I look forward to the future.” Oakley said.

Several other staff promotions and hirings have been announced, including:

  • Tracey Halbrader has been promoted to Finance Director
  • Isaac Mendoza has been promoted to Operations Manager
  • Matt Zinke has been promoted to the Facilities and Maintenance Manager
  • Mike Peranich has been hired as the Director of Operations and Maintenance
  • Josh VanBriesen has been promoted to Assistant Maintenance and Facilities Manager
  • Chris Fisher has been promoted to a Maintenance Supervisor
  • Nick Allen-Stewart has been promoted to Operations Supervisor

These staff members along with Michelle Cassaro, Deputy Director of Finance and Administration, Jeff Polsean, Economic Development Manager, and Kathy Bruggeman, Executive Assistant, are members of RFD’s leadership team and will continue to support Zack in his new role.