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Mayor of Gary to take over top spot at Chicago Urban League when her term expires

Karen Freeman-Wilson

The Chicago Urban League announced Tuesday that Karen Freeman-Wilson, the outgoing mayor of Gary, Ind., will serve as its next president and CEO.

Freeman-Wilson will assume the role after completing her term Dec. 31, 2019. She will replace Interim President and CEO Barbara A. Lumpkin, who was appointed to the position in June 2018.

The Urban League, established in 1916, is a non-profit that works for economic, educational and social progress for African Americans. It’s headquartered at 4510 S. Michigan Ave. in the Bronzeville neighborhood.

“I am excited about the opportunity to join the Urban League team,” Freeman-Wilson said in a statement.

“I am humbled by the opportunity to build on the legacy of Barbara A. Lumpkin and her predecessors who have been amazing community advocates for justice, housing, employment and business development,” she said.

Freeman-Wilson previously held posts as the Indiana attorney general, director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission and presiding judge of the Gary City Court. She also worked as a private attorney for 25 years with a focus in municipal finance, government relations, and family and criminal law, according to the Urban League.

Before Lumpkin’s interim role, the organization’s top spot was held by Shari Runner, who now serves as president and CEO of The Humanity Institute. Before Runner, Andrea Zopp, who’s now president and CEO of World Business Chicago, led the organization. Her predecessor, and the first woman to head the iconic group, was Cheryle Jackson, who, before taking the role, served as a communications director to then-Gov. Rod Blagojevich. Jackson is currently an executive with AAR Corp., which provides aviation services to commercial and government customers.