We had the pleasure to participate in a Morning Business Hour featuring Mayor of Gary, IN Karen Freeman-Wilson. Thank you Andrew Kyres, VP, at First Financial Bank for hosting this awesome coffee, business and networking hour! What an interesting lady Mayor Freeman-Wilson is! Karen has been mayor to her hometown of Gary, Indiana since January 2012. Mayor Freeman-Wilson is the first female to lead the “Steel City” and the first African-American female mayor in the state of Indiana. She has served the public for most of her professional life. She was previously the Indiana Attorney General, Director of Indiana Civil Rights Commission and the presiding judge of the Gary City Court. She is also a leader in the national drug court movement having served as the CEO of the National Association of Drug Court Professionals and Executive Director of the National Drug Court Institute. She is a very impressive, accomplished and super smart lady!
What really impressed me about Mayor Freeman-Wilson is that she totally understands the value of partners and she wants to improve the quality of life for the residents of Gary IN. Both very strong pieces for the rebirth of a classic city. Mayor Freeman-Wilson is empowering citizens for civic engagement. The residents of Gary IN have to be an active part for the growth and rebirth of the City of Gary. And in the same breath because of residential and business civic engagement she is doing more with less. In 2006 they employed 150 people, now in 2016 23. With the regular help of their residents and business owners all kept informed with regular public meetings and an online application to share concerns. She has an open door policy that is stellar and will always take the time to talk to anyone.
She does recognize that Gary IN has vacant and abandoned buildings. It’s a concern. They are in the process of deconstructing and demolishing them to repurpose the land. Along with that there is a strong crime fighting strategy in place that includes neighborhood watch groups and many strong activities for young people to help create a good path for kids. The Gary IN Education system has been a good partner to provide support and safe infrastructure out of school. It is Mayor Freeman-Wilson’s goal to provide a better educational environment for our children.
As challenging as Mayor Freeman-Wilson days are, she says it is so much more rewarding as we begin to realize opportunities in the community. There are many successes on the horizon for the City of Gary, IN. So excited for what is to come with an awesome leader in place.