Meet the Keynote Speaker: Senate President Karen E. Spilka
Since 2005, Senate President Karen E. Spilka has represented the communities of the 2nd Middlesex & Norfolk Senate District, composed of Ashland, Framingham, Holliston, Hopkinton, Medway and Natick. With a strong dedication to the advancement of progressive social causes and pragmatic fiscal policy, Spilka has balanced investments in economic development, education and infrastructure with savings for the future. She has championed issues such as mental health, the innovation economy, and services for the elderly and people with disabilities.
Spilka has a demonstrated track record of fighting for social and civil justice for all. In 2018, Spilka led the push for a sweeping criminal justice reform to increase equity for the state's youngest and most vulnerable residents affected by the criminal legal system, as well as to promote diversion, reduce recidivism and increase judicial discretion. In 2020, following the murder of George Floyd, Spilka led the Massachusetts Senate in passing a groundbreaking police reform bill, which, among other measures, created a first-in-the-nation civilian-led oversight commission with the power to train, certify, independently investigate and decertify police officers. This bill has been hailed by the NAACP, the ACLU and others as one of the strongest laws passed in support of racial justice anywhere in the country.
During her career, Spilka has been a social worker, small business owner and attorney, and became one of the first legislators in the nation to vote in favor of marriage equality and transgender protections. She is a graduate of Northeastern Law School and holds a B.S. in social work from Cornell University. She has been married for 40 years to Joel S. Loitherstein, an environmental engineer, and has three adult children, Heather, Scott and Jake, and two rescue dogs, Lincoln and Mikasa.