Press Release

SPRINGFIELD – Today the Illinois Education Association (IEA) released the following statements on the death of Karen Lewis:

The following statement is attributable to former IEA President Ken Swanson:

“I’m very saddened to learn of Karen Lewis’ passing. Karen was a tenacious advocate for teachers, support staff and students. She was never afraid to speak truth to power, as she saw it. Her compass was always pointing her in the direction of relentless, passionate advocacy to empower staff and the students of Chicago Public Schools. I have always wondered how different things might be today had she not developed cancer and successfully run for mayor. My deepest sympathies to Karen’s family, friends and colleagues in Chicago, across Illinois and across the nation.”

The statement below is attributable to current IEA President Kathi Griffin:

“The Illinois Education Association would also like to add its condolences on the loss of Karen Lewis, a charismatic and dedicated public education warrior who provided a strong voice for not only the Chicago Teachers Union and their students, but for educators and students across the nation. Our hearts go out to all who knew her.”


The 135,000 member Illinois Education Association (IEA-NEA) is the state’s largest education employee’s organization. IEA represents preK-12 teachers outside of the city of Chicago and education support staff, higher education faculty, retired education employees and students preparing to become teachers, statewide.