All it took was a little encouragement from a college professor to ignite a highly successful career in Illinois government for Joan Walters. After working on state government reorganization, she joined Governor Jim Thompson's transition team and later as a legislative liaison. In 1981, she was selected by then Secretary of State Jim Edgar to be his Chief of Staff, serving in this capacity until 1986. In 1991 she became Governor Edgar's Budget Director at a time when the state struggled to fill a $1 billion deficit. After succeeding in that, she later became the Director of Public Aid.