She has a B.A. in history from the University of Calgary and an M.A. from York University in Toronto. She has worked extensively with United Nations organizations and was Senior Parliamentary Advisor with UNDP and the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe in Kosovo.
Vandenbeld was born and raised in Calgary, Alberta. She attended the University of Calgary, earning a B.A. (Hon.), History and Political Science, and would later study at York University, receiving an M.A. in Political and Constitutional History.
Vandenbeld worked with the United Nations Development Programme Democratic Governance Group in New York, where she managed a multi-partner international network to promote women’s political participation. Vandenbeld was also Senior Advisor and Deputy Chief of the Central Assembly and Political Parties Section of the Organization for Security Cooperation in Europe Mission in Kosovo. In 2008, she was awarded the Canadian Peacekeeping Service Medal for her work there. Vandenbeld coordinated an anti-corruption campaign with the OSCE Mission to Bosnia and Herzegovina, and worked on parliamentary development in the Balkans with the Ottawa-based Parliamentary Centre, a Canadian non-profit, non-partisan organization that provides support to parliaments around the world.
More recently, Vandenbeld counselled the UNDP in Vietnam where she authored a study on women’s political participation and provided expertise in Bangladesh as a technical specialist on parliamentary committees. Prior to that Anita was resident director in the National Democratic Institute office in the Democratic Republic of the Congo where she established a political party program during the November 2011 Congolese elections.
Anita is a contributing author to the Oxford Handbook of Transnational Feminist Movements.
Vandenbeld was previously Director of Parliamentary Affairs in the Office of the Leader of the Government in the House of Commons and Minister responsible for Democratic Reform, where she oversaw the development and implementation of the Government of Canada’s Democratic Reform Action Plan. She was also a Policy Analyst with the National Liberal Caucus Research Bureau in the Canadian Parliament, Chief of staff to a Canadian Senator, and chapter development chair for Equal Voice, a Canadian multi-partisan organization to promote women in politics.
Vandenbeld won a contested nomination to be the Liberal Party of Canada candidate for Ottawa West-Nepean for the Canadian federal election, 2011 on November 28, 2010. Vandenbeld was defeated by incumbent MP and Minister of Foreign Affairs John Baird.
Vandenbeld again sought the Ottawa West-Nepean nomination for the 2015 federal election, winning a contested nomination against two other candidates on November 2, 2014. Her campaign was successful, winning the seat with 56% of the vote on October 19, 2015. Her 35,199 votes represented the 5th highest vote total of any Liberal candidate in Ontario and the highest vote count for a female candidate in Ontario.
Vandenbeld is the Chair of the National Liberal Women's Caucus.
Currently, Vandenbeld sits on the Standing Committee on Procedure and House Affairs and the Standing Committee on the Status of Women. In March, 2016, she was elected as Chair of the Special Committee on Pay Equity following the adoption of a motion by the House of Commons from the New Democratic Party to close the gap in pay between men and women which contributes to income inequality and discriminates against women, accept pay equity as a human right, accept the recommendations of the 2004 Pay Equity Task Force Report. The final report, "It's Time to Act" was tabled on June 9, 2016.