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Lambert chief honored by national group for her actions after April tornado

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Jan. 11, 2012 - Rhonda Hamm-Niebruegge, director of Lambert-St. Louis International Airport has been honored by the Professional Convention Management Association, receiving its 2011 Chairman's Award.

According to the airport's announcement, "The honor was given in recognition of her leadership and crisis management following the April 22, 2011 tornado that hit Lambert-St. Louis International Airport."

"Two major conventions (FIRST Robotics Competition and International Biomass Conference & Expo) were set to begin when the tornado hit. Hamm-Niebruegge led the Airport team to re-open Lambert within 24 hours resulting in minimal, if any, disruptions to the conventions that were being hosted in St. Louis during the days after the storm."

The association, which represents 6,300 members, is meeting in San Diego.  The group's chairman, Susan Katz, said the award to Hamm-Niebruegge is "the highest honor PCMA bestows each year to an individual or an organization for their unique achievements or contributions to the meetings industry in the previous year."

The tornado inflicted heavy damage on the airport's large C Concourse, which is expected to reopen in April after major renovations and repairs are completed.

Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.