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Heather Wendell

Senior Director, K-12 Education Finance

  • Biography

Heather is a Senior Director at Afton supporting school districts and state education agencies as part of the K12 education finance practice area. She began her career in education as a high school teacher in Indiana and joined Chicago Public Schools (CPS) in 2002, most recently serving as the Chief Officer of Budget and Grants Management for six years. In this role, Heather led the annual budget and planning process for CPS and its $8 billion operating budget supporting 320,000 students across 630 district-managed and Charter school sites, and oversaw all aspects of local, state, and federal grants including application development, program implementation, monitoring, and management. Heather’s work also included the creation of a School Funding Working Group and Citywide School Budget Public Forums to share data and analysis and solicit diverse stakeholder feedback to inform how CPS can improve equity and transparency in school funding. This work led to the development of an Opportunity Index incorporating student, school, and community factors which was applied as a tool to inform needs-based resource allocation, as well as the creation of a School Resource Strategy team to provide proactive, strategic collaborative consultation to school leaders and communities to align available people, time, and money to best meet student needs.

In addition to her work with budget and grants, Heather has successfully led complex, cross-functional strategic projects for the district and her previous CPS roles include deputy chief of staff to the CEO, director of special projects in the office of college and career success, and business services manager for the office of specialized services.

Heather holds a Bachelor’s degree in English and secondary education from Ball State University and a Master of Arts from Elmhurst College.