UIS Honors Former Mayor Karen Hasara

Former Springfield Mayor Karen Hasara received the William E. Winter Award for Outstanding Advocate Leadership from the University of Illinois at Springfield.


Hasara graduated from Sangamon State University (now UIS) in 1972, a member of the first graduating class - earning a bachelor’s degree in psychology. She received a master’s degree in legal studies in 1992 and an honorary doctorate of humane letters in 2019.


After teaching at Christ the King, Harara was elected to the Sangamon County Board in 1975, and served as Sangamon County Circuit Clerk from 1980 to 1985.


In 1986, Hasara was elected to the Illinois House of Representatives, where she served the 100th District, until being elected to the Illinois Senate in the newly-formed 50th Legislative District in 1992.


Hasara won a highly-contested election in 1995 to become the first female mayor of Springfield, Illinois. She was re-elected in 1999, and served until her term ended in 2003. As mayor, she made two trips to Ukraine, and Springfield became one of the partners of the U.S. Ukraine Foundation. Mayor Hasara was also greatly involved in Sister Cities International, and under her leadership, Springfield gained two additional sister cities (in Mexico and Ireland).


Since leaving elected office, she has worked in Russia and several Eastern European countries in tourism and economic development. As part of the Women in Government program, she has trained women in these nations to be candidates for office, constituent services, and other matters.


The award is named after William E. Winter, CEO emeritus of the 7-Up company and member of the University of Illinois Foundation Board of Directors, who headed the volunteer component of the University’s first major campaign in the 1980s. In 1990, the Foundation established the William E. Winter Award for Outstanding Advocate Leadership in his honor.

Past UIS recipients of the William E. Winter Award include Mark and Julie Staley, Larry Shiner, David Farrell, Paul O’Shea, W. Robert Felker, Pamela McClelland, Cullom Davis, Bob Clary, Leonard Branson, Thom Serafin, Tom Marantz, Julie Kellner, Guerry Suggs and Michelle Suggs (deceased); Howard Humphrey (deceased), James Lundquist (deceased) and Clifford Greenwalt.