Paula Wolff is Senior Executive at Chicago Metropolis 2020, a business and civic organization implementing policy initiatives and programs for regional action on issues including land use, transportation, childhood development and education. Her policy emphasis is on justice and violence, examining issues of crime, violence, incarceration and rehabilitation.
Wolff served between 1992-2000 as President of Governors State University, the only upper-division university in Illinois. Governors State University (GSU), located in Chicago’s south suburbs, serves over 9,000 undergraduate transfer or returning students and those seeking master’s degrees.
From 1977 to 1991, Wolff served as Director of Policy and Planning for Governor James R. Thompson. In 1990-1991, she directed Governor Jim Edgar's Transition Team as she had participated in Governor James R. Thompson's in 1976-1977. Prior to her appointment as GSU President, she was a Visiting Fellow at the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, where she helped to establish a not-for-profit collaborative serving four pilot sites in the Chicago public schools.
Wolff has a B.A. from Smith College and an M.A. and Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in political science.
She serves on numerous boards including the Joyce Foundation, the Ariel Investments Board, the Metropolitan Planning Council, the Johnson Foundation, the Safer Foundation, the Chicago Foundation for Women, the University of Chicago Medical Center (Chair 1996 – 2006) and the University of Chicago Board of Trustees.
She is married to Wayne W. Whalen, a lawyer, and has five children.