Northern Illinois University College of Law alumna Heather Wier Vaught (’05) was the 2017 recipient of the NIU Outstanding College Alumni Award for the College of Law. Wier Vaught, who is special counsel to Illinois House Speaker Michael J. Madigan and the Democratic Caucus of the Illinois House of Representatives, was recognized for her significant professional accomplishments. She was honored and presented with this award by the NIU Alumni Association on May 4, 2017.
In her role as special counsel, Heather provides in-depth legal analysis of legislation pending before the General Assembly and handles special projects. She is the point person and negotiator for many of the top legislative initiatives moving through the General Assembly, including conceal and carry, telecommunications and utilities, procurement reform, predatory lending and mortgage foreclosure prevention, pension reform, ethics reform, elections and campaign finance and the governor’s “turnaround agenda.”
Since her tenure with the caucus began in 2006, Heather has served in several key roles, including chief counsel, deputy counsel and ethics officer for the caucus. Until 2016, she served as the parliamentarian for the Illinois House of Representatives, where she was the final arbiter on the interpretations of House rules, issuing decisions on questions of parliamentary procedure and constitutional requirements.
In 2009, Heather served as the Illinois House’s assistant prosecutor for the impeachment trial of Governor Rod Blagojevich. She was also appointed as a special assistant attorney general for several cases that raised constitutional questions.
Heather is actively involved in the community, including serving on the NIU College of Law Alumni Council, Women’s Bar Foundation, the Perspective Editorial Board for the American Bar Association’s Commission on Women in the Profession and several other community organizations. She has received multiple awards recognizing her commitment and leadership, including the NIU College of Law Young Alumna of the Year and the “Rise Up and Reach Back” award from the Women’s Bar Foundation. In 2014, she was named to the Chicago Law Bulletin’s “40 under 40” list.