City Leaders Elect Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson 2019 President of the National League of Cities

November 10, 2018 - (3 min read)

LOS ANGELES — November 10, 2019 — Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson of Gary, Indiana, was elected president of the National League of Cities (NLC) today at the 2018 City Summit in Los Angeles. Freeman-Wilson, who will serve a one-year term as president of the nation’s largest and most representative membership and advocacy organization for cities and their leaders, will focus her presidential platform on creating communities for all generations, responding to the unique needs of legacy cities, uplifting and supporting civic engagement, and addressing our nation’s varied housing crisis.

“I am honored to step into this new role as president of the National League of Cities,” said Karen Freeman-Wilson, mayor of Gary, Indiana, and 2019 president of the National League of Cities (NLC). “My time as mayor and as a member of NLC has placed me in the company of fellow elected officials, who not only understand the uphill climb that many urban cities face, but extend their wisdom, advice and best practices to help remedy the circumstances we encounter. I look forward to leading this organization and telling the story of Gary on the national stage.”

Freeman-Wilson has served her hometown of Gary since January of 2012, when she became the first woman to lead the city of Gary and the first African-American woman mayor in the state of Indiana. As mayor, Freeman-Wilson has focused on extensive infrastructure improvement, including a significant investment at the Gary Chicago International Airport; the creation of ArtHouse: A Social Kitchen, a work of public art that doubles as a small business incubator; and the development of vital areas in the city including public beaches, parks and downtown neighborhoods.

Freeman-Wilson’s leadership in Gary is reflected in the pivotal role she has played in NLC’s federal advocacy efforts on issues including economic development, public safety, infrastructure investment and combatting the opioid epidemic. She has also been a leader on the organization’s Race, Equity and Leadership (REAL) Council as well as the Council on Youth, Education and Families. Freeman-Wilson has an extensive career in public service, including roles such as Indiana’s attorney general, director of the 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.

NLC’s 2019 officers serving with President Freeman-Wilson include First Vice President Joe Buscaino, councilmember in Los Angeles, second vice president Kathy Maness, councilmember in Lexington, South Carolina, and Immediate Past President Mark Stodola, mayor of Little Rock, Arkansas. As an officer, travel and other related expenses in support of NLC business are covered by the organization.


The National League of Cities (NLC) is the voice of America’s cities, towns and villages, representing more than 200 million people across the country. NLC works to strengthen local leadership, influence federal policy and drive innovative solutions. Stay connected with NLC on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.