The Crusader Newspaper Group

Chicago Urban League President Karen Freeman-Wilson to speak at Black female mayors panel

In observance of Black History Month, Karen Freeman-Wilson, former mayor of Gary, Indiana, will participate in a virtual panel of Black female current and former mayors who will address the challenges of 21st century leadership.

On Wednesday, Feb. 16, Harrisonburg, Virginia Mayor Deanna Reed will lead a discussion with Freeman-Wilson, Tishaura Jones and Sharon Weston Broome. Topics will include crisis communication, the COVID-19 pandemic and strength during a time of social upheaval.

The virtual discussion will begin at 6 p.m. EST and will be livestreamed on James Madison University’s Facebook and YouTube channels.

Freeman-Wilson was mayor of her hometown of Gary, Indiana, from 2012 to 2019, becoming the state’s first African American female mayor. She currently serves as president and CEO of the Chicago Urban League, which works to advance economic, educational and social progress for African Americans through direct service and advocacy. Freeman-Wilson has held many leadership roles, including attorney general of Indiana.

Jones was sworn in as the first Black female mayor of St. Louis, Missouri, in 2021. She served two terms in the Missouri House of Representatives and was the first African American woman to serve as treasurer of St. Louis. In addition to public office, Jones serves her community through volunteer work.

Weston Broome is the first female mayor-president of Baton Rouge, Louisiana, and East Baton Rouge Parish. She previously served as a Baton Rouge Metro City Council member, a Louisiana state representative and a Louisiana state senator. A dedicated public servant, she has received numerous awards for her work in the community.

Reed has served Harrisonburg as mayor since January 2017. She is the first African American female mayor in the history of the city. Reed also holds numerous leadership positions in the community, including director of community and school partnerships for On the Road Collaborative, a youth empowerment organization that serves more than 300 middle-school and high-school students annually.

The discussion is the latest installment of the Madison Vision Series, which honors James Madison’s conviction that cultivating an informed and educated citizenry is essential to the health of our republican democracy. By hosting these timely speakers, students, faculty and staff, and members of the community have easy access to a variety of topics and influencers. The speakers afford students the opportunity to learn and experience what life in their field may look like and provide dialogue for both sides of an issue.

For a complete list of these nationally recognized programs, visit

The virtual discussion will begin at 6 p.m. and will be livestreamed on JMU’s Facebook and YouTube channels.


Recent News

Scroll to Top