Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson
In November 2011, the citizens of Gary, Indiana chose a new day for the city by electing Karen Freeman-Wilson, Mayor. On December 31, 2011, Freeman-Wilson became the first woman to lead the steel city and the first African-American female mayor in the State of Indiana.
Often comparing herself to “Dorothy from Oz,” Freeman-Wilson has been asked to render counsel on various matters throughout the United States and other parts of the world, but she often quips that “there is no place like home.” Along with her husband Carmen Wilson and their daughter Jordan, Freeman-Wilson resides in her native city of Gary, Indiana. She was valedictorian of her graduating class at Gary’s storied Roosevelt High School and went on to become an honors graduate of Harvard College and Harvard Law School.
Despite her breadth of travel and influence throughout the United States, Freeman-Wilson’s loyalty and commitment to her home city has never wavered. Indeed, her passion for Gary, coupled with her experience and training, have positioned her for leadership and prepared her to tackle the major challenges facing the city. She is the immediate past CEO of The National Association of Drug Court Professionals and Executive Director of The National Drug Court Institute based in Washington, D.C. With Freeman-Wilson at the helm, the number of drug courts in the U.S. doubled to 1700 and NADCP became the premier organizational advocate for drug treatment in the judicial arena. Freeman-Wilson has consulted with the Office of White House Drug Control Policy, the Department of Justice and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in the creation and implementation of drug policy. As the twice-elected Gary City Judge, she helped pioneer the drug court movement in Indiana.
Freeman-Wilson has also demonstrated public service and leadership in state government. During her tenure as Indiana Attorney General, Freeman-Wilson fought passionately on behalf of youth, seniors and abused nursing home patients. She was one of the first Attorneys General in the country to combat gas price gouging and to ensure that tobacco settlement dollars were directed towards smoking cessation and health care. While she was the Executive Director of The Indiana Civil Rights Commission, Indiana was one of the first states to pass legislation comparable to the American with Disabilities Act.
Her capabilities, intellect and stellar record of success have not gone unnoticed by national party leaders. In 2000, she was named as one of the top 100 to watch by the National Democratic Leadership Council. That was followed with the honor of being asked to address the 2000 National Democratic Convention in Los Angeles. Her contributions have also been acknowledged by U.S. Drug Czars, Indiana Governors and Supreme Court Justices throughout the United States.
When asked about her commitment to her hometown, Freeman-Wilson often acknowledges that Gary has a history of many obstacles, but quickly notes that the city’s challenges pale in comparison to its potential. “Our city is a diamond in the rough and we simply need the right leadership.” Gary citizens and members of the local media seem confident that Freeman-Wilson will provide the visionary leadership to distinguish Gary as a beacon in Northwest Indiana.
Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson, City of Gary, Indiana