UIC Urban Forum



Clayton Harris, III

Executive Director, Illinois International Port District

In this role, Harris and the Illinois International Port District are committed to developing and maintaining a world-class port that operates as a modern, strategically driven facility and is focused on generating and expanding economic activity and employment for the benefit of the City of Chicago and State of Illinois.

Harris was formerly the Director of Government Affairs for the Midwest United States with CH2M HILL, a global engineering design/build consulting firm.

After earning his Bachelor of Science in Aerospace Technology and while working at the Pentagon in Combat Systems Engineering in the Ballistic Missile Defense Organization Clayton attended law school full time while continuing to work full time at the Federal Aviation Administration then at the United States Department of Agriculture as an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission Specialist. Once he graduated from Howard University’s School of Law he moved to Chicago to become a Cook County Assistant States’ Attorney.

Subsequently, Harris was tapped by Mayor Richard M. Daley to help work his legislative agenda in Springfield where he focused on crime, environment and labor. Then, in 2006 the State of Illinois tapped Harris as chief of staff for the Illinois Department of Transportation where he led the billion-dollar reconstruction of the Dan Ryan and Kingery Expressways.

Harris was once again wooed to come work in a larger capacity, this time the Governor’s office called and placed him over all state infrastructure as the Deputy Chief of Staff where he oversaw and managed every capital agency in the state. While working in this capacity, Clayton stepped up during the state’s most dire time and ultimately assumed the role and responsibilities as Chief of Staff for the entire state of Illinois and for fifty-one days kept the state afloat until the next Governor was transitioned into office.

In addition to the work that Harris engages in professionally, academically he enjoys lecturing at the University of Chicago, where he teaches Process and Policy in State and local government in the school of Public Policy.

Harris resides on the Southside of Chicago with his loving and beautiful wife Trena, where they are devoted parents to their incredible two sons.