Treasurer Maria Pappas featured in Women and Leadership Archives at Loyola University Chicago

More than 34,000 documents, multimedia files and other items highlighting the career accomplishments of Cook County Treasurer Maria Pappas are featured in the Women and Leadership Archives at Loyola University Chicago.

A five-minute video that captures Pappas’ achievements and her desire to make a difference in the lives of others may be viewed at this link.

Pappas, a Loyola alumna, is among dozens of esteemed academics, artists and civic leaders whose personal papers are housed in Loyola’s Women and Leadership Archives. Members of the public may make an appointment to view the archives at Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus in Chicago.

“I am honored and humbled to be part of such a prestigious collection,” Pappas said. “The Women and Leadership Archives showcase the life work of many trailblazers.”

Others featured in Loyola’s archives include Carol Mosely Braun, the first Black woman to serve in the U.S. Senate and the first woman to represent Illinois in the Senate; the late Corrine Wood, who served as Illinois lieutenant governor; and Jean Dolores Schmidt, a retired educator and ardent Loyola Ramblers booster better known as “Sister Jean.”

The Pappas collection includes media records, photographs and videos of ethnic and cultural events and copies of multilingual brochures and other outreach materials that were created to help taxpayers understand the property tax system.

Pappas was raised in West Virginia, where she earned degrees in sociology from West Liberty State College and in guidance and counseling from West Virginia University. When she moved to Chicago in the 1970s, she worked with public housing residents enrolled in a drug-abuse prevention program. She earned a doctorate in counseling and psychology from Loyola University of Chicago and a law degree from Chicago-Kent College of Law.

Just as Pappas transformed her life from humble roots in rural Appalachia, she has transformed how the Cook County Treasurer’s Office operates and serves taxpayers. She served as a Cook County Board commissioner from 1990 to 1998, when she was first elected Treasurer. Pappas embraced technology and automation to modernize the Treasurer’s Office and to reduce employee head counts. She cut spending, championed transparency and promoted disclosure requirements that have made it easier for citizens to monitor government spending.

Pappas prioritized creating a website,, that averages nearly a million visits per month so taxpayers can check their payments, search for refunds, see possible missing exemptions, and more.

She created a think tank of researchers, hired artificial intelligence experts and spearheaded studies that exposed lingering effects of racist housing practices from decades ago. At her urging lawmakers adopted historic reforms that lowered interest rates charged on past due taxes. Through her Black and Latino Houses Matter programs more than $300 million has been refunded to Black and Latino homeowners since 2020.