Women only make up 23 percent of government roles at the state and local level. In our new podcast, called "The 23%: Conversations With Women in Government," Governing reporter Mattie Quinn will sit down twice a month with members of the 23-percent club.

She'll be talking to accomplished women about what motivated them to run for office, lessons they’ve learned along the way and the policy battles they're gearing up for this year. 

One of those women is Karen Freeman-Wilson.

In many cities and states in America’s heartland, people head off to college on one of the coasts and never come back. But Freeman-Wilson always knew she’d return to Indiana.

After getting her bachelor’s and law degree from Harvard University, she moved back to her home state to be the state attorney general and director of the Indiana Civil Rights Commission. Now she's the mayor of her hometown, Gary, a mid-sized city 40 minutes from Chicago. 

In that role, she’s made it her mission to revitalize the once-thriving city that’s been in economic decline for the past couple of decades. To do that, she’s tackling blight, gun violence and appearing on reality TV. We'll let her explain that last one. 

In this inaugural episode, Mattie chatted with Freeman-Wilson about her work in Gary, how being an attorney has helped her lead a city, and why it’s so important -- now more than ever -- for women to get involved in politics.

Listen below. You can also subscribe on Apple Podcasts and Stitcher, or check out our archives.