M. Michelle Blaise Receives the 2017 Deborah M. Sawyer Award

M. Michelle Blaise is the Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce 2017 Deborah M. Sawyer Award winner. Michelle was recognized for her visionary and trail blazing leadership, her expertise in the energy industry, as well as her unwavering commitment to young women and STEM education.

The Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce established the Deborah M. Sawyer Award in 2016, after Deborah lost her battle with ovarian cancer.

"This award serves to honor those who exemplify the personal and professional traits that Deborah valued and embodied," said Leslie J. Sawyer, Deborah's sister and current Chairman and CEO of Environmental Design International inc. (EDI). "Not only does Michelle meet all the award criteria, she was a major supporter of Deborah's vision to grow EDI's utility and energy client base and expand to Baltimore."

Deborah M. Sawyer, the late founder and CEO of EDI made significant contributions to her profession and to hundreds of aspiring women and minority business owners, who benefitted from her mentoring and counsel. Her determination built EDI into a nationally recognized engineering firm.

Prior to her role as senior vice president of Technical Services, Blaise served as vice president of Engineering and Project Management and oversaw maintenance, reliability, and capacity planning. She was also responsible for planning and execution of transmission and substation projects as well as execution of Energy Infrastructure Modernization (EIMA) program.

Blaise has held a variety of positions with increasing responsibilities in customer operations, strategic planning, distribution operations and engineering including manager of Construction and Maintenance, Manager of Strategic Planning, and Manager of Business Planning.

Blaise serves as a member of the board of directors for the Women's Business Development Center and on the board of trustees of the Chicago Architecture Foundation.

Blaise holds a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the Illinois Institute of Technology, and a Masters in Business Administration from DePaul University.

The Illinois Black Chamber of Commerce (ILBCC) is the largest, most active voice for African American businesses in the state of Illinois. The organization was incorporated in 1997 through the work of the National Black Chamber of Commerce and Founder, President/CEO Mr. Larry D. Ivory also past Chairman of the Board of the National Black Chamber of Commerce.  

Founded in 1991, Environmental Design International inc. (EDI) is an MBE/WBE/DBE certified, professional engineering firm headquartered in Chicago, with an office in Baltimore, MD. EDI's engineers and scientists offer a variety of environmental, engineering, industrial hygiene, and survey services to clients within the private and public sector. EDI serves ComEd and BG&E and several other regional utility providers within their growing energy client base.  

 Left to right: Michelle Blaise, the late Deborah M. Sawyer, and ComEd President and CEO Anne Pramaggiore

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