Paula Wolff is Director of Illinois Justice Project, an organization implementing policy initiatives and programs to improve the justice system by addressing issues of criminal sentencing, violence, incarceration and rehabilitation.
Wolff served between 1992-2000 as President of Governors State University, then the only upper-division university in Illinois. Governors State University (GSU), located in Chicago’s south suburbs, served 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. She also worked for Governor Richard B. Ogilvie from 1969–1971. 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 as Chair, Illinois State Toll Highway Authority; Chair, City Colleges of Chicago; the Joyce Foundation; Ariel Investments; the Metropolitan Planning Council; the Johnson Foundation; 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.