Karen Freeman-Wilson

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Karen Freeman-Wilson
Karen Freeman-Wilson (12617981394).jpg
19th Mayor of Gary
Assumed office
January 1, 2012
Preceded byRudy Clay
40th Attorney General of Indiana
In office
June 8, 2000 – January 14, 2001
GovernorFrank O'Bannon
Preceded byJeff Modisett
Succeeded bySteve Carter
Personal details
Karen Marie Freeman

(1960-10-24) October 24, 1960 (age 58)
Gary, Indiana, U.S.
Political partyDemocratic
Carmen Wilson (m. 1982)
ResidenceGary, Indiana
Alma materHarvard University (B.A., J.D.)

Karen Marie Freeman-Wilson (born October 24, 1960)[1] is an American attorney, former judge, former Indiana Attorney General, and current Mayor of Gary, Indiana.

Early life and education[edit]

Karen Marie Freeman was born in Gary, Indiana, and is a graduate of Harvard Law School.[2]

Municipal Judge and Attorney General[edit]

She served as judge of the Gary City Court from 1995 to 2000. In 2000, she was appointed Indiana Attorney General by Governor Frank O'Bannon to serve the remaining eleven months of the term of Jeff Modisett, who resigned to become Deputy CEO and General Counsel to the Democratic National Convention.[3]

As the incumbent, Freeman-Wilson ran for Indiana Attorney General in 2000 but lost to Republican Steve Carter. State auditors later found that the former Attorney General Freeman-Wilson issued more than $700,000 in grants without approval from the Governor and various agencies during her eleven months in office. The Indiana State Board of Accounts discovered this when it filed the annual audit of this office in 2001. The State Board found that Freeman-Wilson issued grants from the $1.39 million payment Indiana received for work on the national tobacco settlement. A $500,000 grant to the Indiana Minority Health Coalition was also issued without approval from the Governor and agencies under his control. Freeman-Wilson acknowledged, "mistakes were made." She stated to the Indianapolis Star, "I'm not going to criticize Mr. Carter and I don't think he should criticize me." Attorney General Carter responded, "We can only clean up the office from this point forward."[4][5]

After leaving office, Freeman-Wilson went on to become CEO of the nonprofit National Association of Drug Court Professionals. While there she helped get a trial of Prometa, a treatment for methamphetamine addiction, launched in the Gary drug court.[6] In July 2007, Hythiam Inc., the company licensing the Prometa protocol, named Freeman-Wilson to its board of directors.[3] Other executive posts held by Freeman-Wilson include Executive Director of the National Drug Court Institute and director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission.[7]

Legal Counsel: Gary Urban Enterprise Association[edit]

Freeman-Wilson served as legal counsel to the Gary Urban Enterprise Association from 1995 to 2006.[8]

Mayor of Gary[edit]

In April 2011, Rudy Clay announced he was ending his re-election campaign due to prostate cancer, endorsing Karen Freeman-Wilson as his successor. Rudy Clay asked his supporters to vote for Freeman-Wilson.[9] In May 2011, Freeman-Wilson won the Democratic mayoral primary for the city of Gary. She had previously run in both 2003 and 2007,[10] losing to Scott L. King and Rudy Clay respectively. Given the political nature of Gary she was considered a heavy favorite in the general election.[11][12] She won the election with a landslide 87 percent of the vote. She became the city's first female mayor. Freeman-Wilson and her "New Day" Transition Team developed a Blueprint for Gary, promising to improve public safety, economic development, and the city's appearance and image.[13] She has refused to allow a museum in the childhood home of Michael Jackson.

Freeman-Wilson appeared during her tenure as mayor in a December 21, 2016 episode of Undercover Boss, in which she was disguised as a long-haired woman from Nashville, Tennessee with a Southern accent. The episode highlighted wage and infrastructure challenges related to Gary's tight budget and allowed the mayor to evaluate ways to improve working conditions. Unlike other episodes, in which bosses tend to provide gifts with the organization's money, she relied on private donations, a personal donation, and strategic budgeting to provide gifts and investments.[citation needed]

Freeman-Wilson was denied a third term in the May 7th, 2019 mayoral primary, when she lost to Lake County Assessor, Jerome Prince. Since there is no Republican contender in November 5th general election, Prince will succeed her as the new mayor in December. [14]


  1. ^ [1]
  2. ^ Michael Puente (2010-12-10). "Is Gary Ready for Another Mayor Hatcher?". WBEZ.org. Retrieved 2010-12-10.
  3. ^ a b Robinson, Sean (December 23, 2007). "Data show mixed value of Prometa". The News Tribune.
  4. ^ "State of Indiana Board of Accounts: Audit Report of the Office of the Attorney General State of Indiana November 1, 1998 to March 31, 2001" (PDF). 2001-08-01. Retrieved 2001-08-01.
  5. ^ Associated Press (2001-08-30). "Audit Hits Freeman-Wilson Agency Says Grants by Former Attorney General Broke Law" (PDF). Post-Tribune. Retrieved 2001-08-30.
  6. ^ Huus, Kari (January 11, 2008). "Setbacks plague drug addiction remedy: Prometa pilot program loses funding amid questions over effectiveness". MSNBC.com. Retrieved 2008-08-22.
  7. ^ http://www.nwitimes.com/news/opinion/forum/article_dba25a0b-ae63-5916-9153-c48950401f09.html
  8. ^ MichaelGonzalez (2011-04-26). "Freeman-Wilson says she has clean hands in drug court, GUEA activities". post-trib.com. Retrieved 2011-04-26.
  9. ^ Pete Nickeas (2011-04-12). "Clay Endorses Freeman-Wilson for Gary Mayor". nwitimes.com. Retrieved 2011-04-12.
  10. ^ https://chicago.cbslocal.com/tag/mayoral-race/feed/
  11. ^ Jon Seidel (2010-12-03). "Freeman-Wilson to announce Gary mayoral bid". Post-Tribune. Retrieved 2010-12-03.
  12. ^ http://www.nwitimes.com/news/local/lake/gary/article_dea65a33-81b6-5403-9445-bbd9f548c21d.html Retrieved 2011-06-09
  13. ^ Bowedeya Tweh (2011-10-11). "Gary needs to Change It Course, Candidate Says". nwitimes.com. Retrieved 2011-10-11.
  14. ^ "Karen Freeman-Wilson Unseated In Gary Mayoral Race". cbs2chicago.com. Retrieved 2019-05-08.
Legal offices
Preceded by
Jeffrey A. Modisett
Attorney General of Indiana
Succeeded by
Stephen R. Carter