Thursday, June 11, 2020
Maria Whelan, the CEO of Illinois Action for Children, passed away suddenly yesterday morning.
For those of you who had the wonderful opportunity to know her, you can understand how hard it is to describe her. She could instantly captivate a room with her presence - joy, ferocity, passion, love, and intelligence. Her presence filled a room, but it never overshadowed the mission.
She was a compassionate warrior, relentless in her fight for children and for social, economic, and racial justice. She did that through her early childhood work as a way to lift up all families.
She could make you laugh heartily, she would hug you tightly, she would push you to do better, and she could also make you shake in your boots.
She made us better. She made our early childhood system better. She made IDHS better. She made our state and country better.
The broad spectrum of work we all do is included in what she dedicated her life's work to. We are all challenged to find the avenue through which we fight for justice every day.
Her work continues through us.
Grace B. Hou