2015 MCLP Community Service Award Recipient – Karen Schmidt

Karen SchmidtYou can often find this year’s MCLP Community Service Award recipient pedaling a bicycle around low-income neighborhoods, laden with an overflowing book box.

That determined and personal effort exemplifies Karen Schmidt, who has helped initiate and maintain numerous community projects. This includes the Book Bike Program that brings free books into the homes of local residents. Karen gives her voice, time, leadership and financial support to a myriad of causes locally, at the state level and on a national level.

Karen serves as alderman and Mayor Pro Tem for the City of Bloomington. Professionally, as Illinois Wesleyan University Librarian, Karen is active in state and national library associations, strengthening campus ties between technology and library services. She also connects IWU students to service learning opportunities that benefit the local community, especially the older Bloomington west side and downtown.

Karen is a board member of the Downtown Bloomington Association and a founding member of the Illinois Prairie Community Foundation’s Women to Women Giving Circle. She coordinated a series of grassroot workshops on “Making Neighborhoods Work” in the City of Bloomington, and helped found the West Bloomington Revitalization Project (WBRP). She was instrumental in bringing together the police department and city churches to form the Moving Forward initiative, helping young people improve their chances for success, and is a board member of the Not In Our Town B/N initiative. Karen and her husband, John Elterich, established the Elterich Family Scholarship within the Pratt Music Foundation, giving music opportunities to lower-income youths.

In her family, her neighborhood and her ward, Karen has personally experienced the challenges and opportunities that confront diverse populations, and spoken out for social justice across all sections of our community. Karen has been a long time supporter of MCLP as a mentor, speaker and financial contributor. Her life’s work exemplifies the very definition of a servant leader.

Join us April 25 at the Class of 2015 Graduation Celebration as we recognize Karen Schmidt with this year’s MCLP Community Service Award.