When Gary Mayor Karen Freeman-Wilson leaves office at the end of the year, she’ll be starting her next career in Chicago as head of the Chicago Urban League. Freeman-Wilson will assume the role of president and chief executive officer for the organization in January.

“I am excited about the opportunity to join the Urban League team,” said Freeman-Wilson. “I consider it a divine mission. I am also humbled by the opportunity to build on the legacy.”

The Chicago Urban League is an affiliate of the National Urban League that develops programs and engages in advocacy over issues such as unemployment, entrepreneurship, and affordable housing.

Freeman-Wilson is the first woman to serve as Mayor of Gary. She is also the first African American female mayor in the State of Indiana.

“Karen Freeman-Wilson has a depth of leadership experience and a demonstrated passion for the issues of equality and social justice that are central to the mission of the Chicago Urban League,” said Chicago Urban League Board Chairman Eric Smith. “We are confident that she will be a strong, visionary leader who will continue to advance the organization’s excellent work toward serving the needs of African-American communities and advocating for equity.”

Freeman-Wilson says she still has a busy “to do” list before she leaves office, including the groundbreaking of the proposed Hard Rock Casino Gary this fall. “It has been an honor to serve the citizens of my hometown with an amazing team of dedicated individuals,” said Freeman-Wilson.  “While I will miss serving as Mayor, I look forward to continuing my passion for service.”

Gary’s incoming mayor, Jerome Prince, defeated Freeman-Wilson in the May primary.