About Deborah Harrington

Deborah Harrington is an activist and President of the Woods Fund of Chicago. She is responsible for directing the Fund’s operations, grant-making and providing leadership, particularly in the foundation’s priority programs of public policy development and community organizing. Deborah is involved in policy at local, state and federal levels. As an appointee to the public policy advisory board of the national Council on Foundations, she facilitated development of the Paul Ylvisaker Award for Public Policy and is a member of the Mayoral Policy Caucus. In addition to serving as trustee to several community-based, non-profit and civic organizations, Deborah is a board member of the Donors Forum of Chicago, advisory board member of the Institute of Government and Public Affairs at the University of Illinois and Vice President of the board of Business and Professional People for the Public Interest.

Prior to joining the Woods Fund, Ms. Harrington had broad experience in the public sector, having worked over 20 years in the Illinois Department of Employment Security, Department of Public Aid, and Department of Human Services. She was a member of the Governor’s Taskforce for Human Services Reform and worked on the design and implementation of the state’s human services delivery system, and on implementation of the 1996 welfare law.

Ms. Harrington has an exceptionally rich community service involvement, including work as a community organizer, extensive volunteer work with the Field Museum, fair housing auditor for open communities, facilitator and liaison with the Chicago neighborhood policing program, and as mayoral appointee of the Chicago Sister Cities International Executive Committee.

Ms. Harrington received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Anthropology from the University of Illinois with postgraduate study at the University of Ghana in West Africa.