Illinois Action for Children Names April Janney New President & CEO

January 29, 2021

Chicago – Illinois Action for Children’s (IAFC) Board of Directors is pleased to announce the appointment of April Janney as President & CEO. Janney has served as Acting President & CEO since June 2020, following the sudden passing of Maria Whelan who was IAFCs President & CEO for 20 years.

“We are thrilled to officially name April Janney our new President & CEO,” said Celena Roldán, Chair of IAFCs Board of Directors. “April’s character, resolve, and in-depth knowledge of Illinois’ early care and education system have been key in her ability to successfully guide IAFC to its noted position as a leader in the field. Most recently, in her role as Acting President and CEO, April has demonstrated calm yet powerful leadership throughout both the pandemic and the leadership transition process. With April at the helm, IAFC has been able to effectively and quickly adjust to modified ways of working while continuing to innovate new, safe and impactful ways to serve children, families, and communities.”

“This is an incredible opportunity and I could not be more thankful to the Board of Directors and our staff for all of their support,” said Janney. “It is quite humbling to follow in Maria Whelan’s footsteps however, my goal is not to replace her, but to build upon the foundation and honor the legacy that both she and our founder, Sylvia Cotton, created. I look forward to continuously strengthening the Illinois Action for Children brand by leveraging our talented staff, embracing new and existing partnerships, building on our racial equity focus, expanding our policy platform to include parent choice and the child care and early education workforce, investing in technology, and engaging deeply with parents and providers—all so that we can enhance the ways we are amplifying their voices and driving meaningful change.”

Working with children in Chicago and throughout Illinois to foster positive outcomes has been April Janney’s passion for more than 30 years. Prior to taking on the responsibilities of Acting President & CEO last June, Janney served as IAFCs Senior VP of Operations, Senior VP of Programs, and Chief Program Officer.

Before joining the Illinois Action for Children leadership team as Director of Provider Programs in 2010, Janney provided school-age programming through a career that spanned 21 years with Boys & Girls Clubs of America and Boys & Girls Clubs Chicago. Janney earned her master’s degree in Public Administration from Roosevelt University as a Woodruff Fellow and holds a bachelor’s Science degree in Education: Early Childhood and Special Education from Chicago State University.

IAFCs Board-appointed Executive Search Committee worked with Koya Partners, a national Executive Search firm, to identify the agency’s next President and CEO, a process that formally began in November 2020.

“Through extensive interviews with April and many other highly-qualified candidates, it became increasingly clear that April absolutely is the person to lead this Organization into its bold and exciting next chapter.” Roldán said. “Under April Janney’s leadership, Illinois Action for Children is poised to be at the forefront of the movement for equity, opportunity, access, and quality in child care and early education and beyond.”



About IAFC

As a state and national leader in early childhood care and education, Illinois Action for Children’s programs, services, and advocacy improve learning and life outcomes for children and families, including reducing the effects of poverty and inequality. IAFC works to ensure that every child in Illinois—particularly those in need—have access to the necessary resources to succeed in school and in life.

Since its founding in 1969, IAFC has worked to create systems of early care and education that help strengthen families and communities. As a state and national leader in the early care and education community, IAFC stands distinguished by its “Strong Families, Powerful Communities” approach to child development, Pre-K and Head Start education and other family and community supports. Those supports aim to make all American families self-sufficient, with access to high‐quality opportunities that provide the foundation for a lifetime of learning, prosperity, health, and happiness.