Former CTU President Karen Lewis Passes Away

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

Lawndale News Chicago's Bilingual Newspaper - Education

By: Ashmar Mandou

Former Chicago Teachers Union President and former chemistry teacher Karen Lewis, 67, passed away on Sunday following her battle with brain cancer, a spokesperson for the family confirmed. Retiring from her role with CTU in 2018 to focus on her health, Lewis was first diagnosed with glioblastoma, an aggressive form of brain cancer in 2015 and in 2017 suffered a stroke. Lewis, who led the CTU and its 32,000 members, was known for tenacious approach in championing the rights of teachers and public schools. Amid the news many shared an outpouring of condolences.

“I had the pleasure of meeting and sitting down with her once and I just remember it so vividly and feeling like I came out of that experience ‘I’m very lucky to have been in her presence,'” Lightfoot said Monday. “So this is a sad day, a day of grieving for sure. But also, I think, because she left such a strong legacy. It’s also an opportunity to really celebrate her life.” -Mayor Lori Lightfoot

“My condolences to the family of Karen Lewis and to the members of @CTULocal1, whom Karen so tirelessly represented. May she rest in peace.” -Illinois Senator Dick Durbin

“Our union is in deep mourning today at the passing of our sister, our leader and our friend, President Emerita Karen GJ Lewis. We are sending heartfelt condolences to her husband, John Lewis, and her surviving family and friends. She will be dearly missed.” -Chicago Teachers Union

“Karen Lewis never shied away from a fight. She unflinchingly took on politicians and special interests, usually in her own humorous and disarming way. “The 2012 teachers’ strike changed the course of Chicago and our entire country. Karen’s leadership inspired teachers across the country to fight for quality public education that their communities deserve. Her legacy lives on through the millions of working people she inspired to fight for collective justice.” -SEIU Illinois

“We mourn the loss of a dynamic woman who had an amazing impact on the education of Chicago school children and the people who dedicate their lives to teaching them. Karen Lewis led the Chicago Teachers Union with brilliance, grit, love, and style. She often found herself in rooms and spaces where she was the only woman and person of color, and she never failed to bring her authentic self to the table where decisions were made.” -Lt. Governor Juliana Stratton

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