Maribeth Vander Weele, President of the Vander Weele Group, is a results-oriented professional known for her ability to drive strategic and tactical change in large organizations.
Maribeth began her career as a news reporter. In 1994, she authored Reclaiming Our Schools, the Struggle for Chicago School Reform, based on her award-winning investigative reporting for the Chicago Sun-Times. The book became the roadmap for the reform of the $3.8 billion Chicago Public School system, then mired in allegations of corruption. In 1995, Maribeth joined the turnaround team for the system, spearheading integrity initiatives that enabled the system – for the first time in more than a decade – to achieve an investment-grade rating that permitted the launch of a multi-billion construction program. Maribeth directly managed departments involving investigations, Internal Audit, an Ombudsman’s Office, and security. Among her team’s accomplishments was the creation of a Truancy Hotline that returned thousands of children to school and the administration of grants that increased attendance and reduced school violence. During this time, the Illinois state legislature and the school system adopted and implemented dozens of recommendations in Maribeth’s book.
In 1998, Chicago Mayor Richard Daley appointed Maribeth as Inspector General of Chicago Public Schools, where she managed a staff that investigated thousands of allegations of employee and vendor misconduct. Her team produced audits of key areas such as transportation, janitorial services, procurement systems, information technology, food services, and teacher quality, enabling the system to achieve savings of tens of millions of dollars. Her team built a division to monitor $3.8 billion in construction spending, which included a unit to mediate disputes between schools and contractors. Maribeth became President of the Illinois Association of Inspectors General during that time.
Maribeth left the public sector in 2002, spending a year in Washington at a boutique risk management consulting firm headed by William Chadwick, former acting District Attorney of Philadelphia and Inspector General of Pennsylvania, before launching the Vander Weele Group in Chicago in 2003.
In 2009, then Illinois Governor Patrick Quinn appointed Maribeth as a commissioner to an investigatory panel to address abuses in the University of Illinois admissions process. In 2011, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel appointed Maribeth as the outsourced Inspector General of the Public Building Commission of Chicago, which manages hundreds of millions of dollars of public construction projects. In 2012, Cook County Board President Tony Preckwinkle appointed Maribeth to the Cook County Board of Ethics. She has also served as a Commissioner on the Illinois Gaming Board.
Maribeth has lectured at seminars for Harvard University, the World Bank, the National Business Roundtable, the Public Broadcasting System, the United States Agency for International Development, the TIAA-CREF Annual Fraud Conference, the State of Indiana’s Annual Ethics Conference, the Association of Inspectors General, the National Association of Local Government Auditors, the Illinois CPA Society, the Chicago Chapter of the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners, the National Education Writers Association, the Golden Apple Foundation, the University of Chicago Graduate School of Business, Kellogg Graduate School of Management at Northwestern University, and in many other forums nationwide and in Canada. Maribeth served as a board member for Time Dollar Tutoring, a Chicago not-for-profit organization that provided tutoring and computers to disadvantaged youth.
Maribeth has been profiled in the Wall Street Journal, Teacher Magazine, and Extraordinary Ordinary Women Making a Difference. Her work is cited in the book, Battling Corruption in America’s Public Schools, and is quoted in multiple other publications, both domestically and abroad. As a journalist, she received awards including the Sarah Brown Boyden Award from the Chicago Press Veterans Association, the Benjamin Fine Award from the National Association of Secondary School Principals, the Distinguished Achievement Award from the Educational Press Association of America, and the first place Editorial Excellence award from the Illinois AP Editors Association.
Maribeth is a graduate of Wheaton College in Wheaton, Illinois. She has provided and undertaken extensive training in fraud examination and security-related matters.