Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot has appointed Gia Biagi, an urban planner, civil servant, and principal of Studio Gang, to head up the city’s transportation department (CDOT). The decision comes seven months after the previous commissioner resigned ahead of Lightfoot’s inauguration in May.
Before joining Studio Gang in 2015 as the firm’s leader of urbanism and civic impact, Biagi served with the Chicago Park District from 2003 to 2015. During her last two years there, she served as the chief of staff. Biagi has also worked as a policy associate under former Chicago Mayor Richard M. Daly after finishing her master’s in urban planning at the University of Illinois at Chicago.
“Gia’s expertise and years of on-the-ground experience make her the ideal choice to lead our ambitious agenda for CDOT through the coming decade,” said Mayor Lightfoot in a statement. “As we move ahead, I look forward to working side-by-side with Gia and the entire team at CDOT as we implement our vision for equitable, comprehensive urban planning, and transportation that supports every one of our residents, neighborhoods, and businesses, and helps our entire city thrive.”
According to the mayor’s office, Biagi will focus on improving traffic issues in downtown Chicago and tie in CDOT’s projects with other critical infrastructure projects such as affordable housing and the mayor’s INVEST South/West Initiative. It’s also likely that Biagi will be working with her former team at Studio Gang on the transit situation surrounding the O’Hare airport expansion.
“I am proud that Gia has answered the call to return to public service,” said Jeanne Gang, founding principal of Studio Gang, in a statement. “It is always rewarding to see the members of our team harness the skills they have cultivated in the studio to effect positive change in the world. Gia has been a critical partner in maturing the Studio’s unique approach to our urban scale work that emphasizes mutuality and equity. She remains part of the Studio Gang family, and I am confident that she will accomplish great things for our City.”
Biagi’s nomination as CDOT commissioner may be confirmed by the City Council in a vote as early as next month.