Former longtime Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis dies at 67


Chicago Teachers Union (CTU) president Karen Lewis holds a press conference after CTU delegates voted to end their strike on September 18, 2012 in Chicago, Illinois. (Photo by Scott Olson/Getty Images)

CHICAGO (WGN) — Former longtime Chicago Teachers Union President Karen Lewis has died, according to a union spokesperson. She was 67.

Lewis stepped down from her position as CTU president in 2018 due to her battle with brain cancer. She was diagnosed with an aggressive form of brain cancer in 2014.

Stephanie Gadlin, a CTU spokesperson, released the following statement about Lewis’ passing to NewsNation affiliate WGN:

“The nation has lost a true champion. Karen Lewis was one of the most powerful and prolific voices in public education, advocating for students, their families and the communities in which they live. For her tenure as president of the Chicago Teachers Union, she was the architect of today’s fight for education justice. As her spokeswoman, I cannot tell you how inspired I was by her leadership as well as her vulnerability as she navigated the treacherous terrain of Chicago politics. I cannot count how many times we shared tears over the plight of students and people who have been marginalized for years, or the bellows of laughter due to her biting sense of humor.  Karen was my homegirl. She rocked. Our city has lost a great voice. I send my heartfelt condolences to her loved ones, friends and to the 25,000 members of the CTU. May her memory reign for all days to come and she find rest in the bosom of God.”


Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot also released a statement in response to Lewis’ death:

“Amy and I are saddened to learn of Karen Lewis’ passing. Our deepest condolences go out to her family, loved ones, friends and CTU family during this extremely difficult time.”


This is a developing story. Check back for more details.

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