Regional Transportation Authority (RTA) of Northeastern Illinois Chairman Kirk Dillard has been chosen to receive a 2017 Local Distinguished Service Award by the American Public Transportation Association (APTA). The APTA “best of the best” awards recognize excellence in the public transportation industry in North America, on both the individual and organizational level.

“Congratulations to Chairman Kirk Dillard, who has been a positive force for public transportation in our region for decades, as a state senator and as the RTA Chairman,” said Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel. “Working collaboratively with the leaders of CTA, Metra, and Pace, he is a strong advocate for seeking the funding needed to maintain and improve our world-class transit system, including the historic modernization of Chicago’s Union Station. His efforts have made a significant difference in the lives of millions of people throughout the region and beyond.”

Dillard has a long history of “moving things forward” in Illinois. He is a lifelong transit rider and regularly rides the RTA regional system from his suburban home to his offices in downtown Chicago, where he is a partner at Locke Lord LLP, one of Chicago’s oldest and largest law firms.

“Kirk Dillard is a strong advocate and committed leader for public transportation who is most deserving of APTA’s 2017 Local Distinguished Service Award,” said APTA Acting President/CEO Richard A. White. “First as a state senator and now as the RTA Chairman, Dillard has been instrumental in advancing public transportation in the Chicago metro area and on the national level.”

Before becoming RTA chairman in 2014, Dillard served as the Republican senator for the 24th District of the Illinois State Senate for nearly 20 years. During this time, he was widely known to work “across the aisle” to build consensus. As state senator, Chairman Dillard served on the Transportation Committee, was a strong supporter of public transportation, and the sponsor of the Secretary of State’s Railroad Safety Initiatives, which resulted in a significant drop in grade-crossing fatalities. Prior to serving as state senator, Dillard served as chief of staff to former Gov. Jim Edgar and as legislative director to former Gov. James Thompson.

“I am pleased to offer my congratulations to Chairman Dillard,” said RTA Executive Director Leanne Redden. “From the moment he was handed the gavel he has worked tirelessly in our region, in Springfield, and in Washington D.C. to advocate for the needs of regional transit riders. In both his decades of experience in the state legislature and his work with the leadership of CTA, Metra, and Pace, his focus is on collaboration over division and communication over discord. Our transit region is better for having his leadership.”

Chairman Dillard and the other award recipients will receive their awards at the APTA annual meeting/EXPO on October 10 in Atlanta, Georgia.

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