Maria Whelan has served as Illinois Action for Children’s President and CEO since 2001. She leads the organization’s mission to support strong families and powerful communities where children matter most, through the advancement of innovative human services programs and responsive public policies that improve conditions for children and families in Illinois.
An authority in the early care and education field, Maria possesses over 30 years of experience in human services. Prior to joining Illinois Action for Children, she served as the founding Executive Director of the Carole Robertson Center for Learning, a multicultural nonprofit partnership among parents, youth and communities on Chicago’s West Side. Her leadership has been recognized through special awards and fellowships, including the Community Service Fellowship from the Chicago Community Trust, and Leadership Greater Chicago. She currently serves on several boards, including the Illinois Early Learning Council, Illinois Network of Child Care Resource and Referral Agencies, Early Childhood Advisory Committee – Chicago Public Schools and Illinois Child Care Advisory Council – Illinois Department of Human Services.
Maria holds a Master’s degree in Social Services from The University of Chicago, and a Bachelor’s degree in History from Clarke College. She lives in Chicago with her husband and has three daughters.