The final member we’re spotlighting in honor of Women’s History Month is State Senator Karen Tallian (D-Ogden Dunes). Sen. Tallian has served in the Indiana State Senate since 2005, championing issues such as justice reform, worker’s compensation, health care and property tax reform.
This legislative session, Sen. Tallian prioritized juvenile justice reform, worker’s compensation and marijuana legalization. In addition to her legislative proposals, Sen. Tallian is filing several budget amendments to ensure the budget best serves Hoosiers. In the Statehouse, Sen. Tallian is known for her ability to think practically and make reasonable, informed decisions.
Originally, Sen. Tallian had no intention of running for office. After a former Senator in Tallian’s district stepped down to take over a position in their hometown, Sen. Tallian was recruited by several community members to run for the open seat. “Through my involvement in local groups, I got to be known as a person who made reasonable and informed choices. I think that’s why people recruited me in the first place,” Sen. Tallian said.
Sen. Tallian has always valued being involved in her community. Prior to running for office, she served as counsel to the Porter County Planning Commission and the Board of Zoning Appeals, and to the Portage Township Trustees. She also served on the merit boards for both the Portage Fire Department and the Portage Police Department. Before holding elected office or positions on commissions and boards, Sen. Tallian’s involvement in her community revolved primarily around her children, with programs like after-school sports. “At different stages in your life, you do that in different ways,” Sen. Tallian said. “Politics and serving on boards became one of the ways to be involved.”
When looking back on history, Sen. Tallian admires the women who charted new paths for women in their generation. Women like Ruth Bader Ginsberg and Eleanor Roosevelt, who broke barriers in their own generation and paved new paths for future generations of women.
Because of the example set by other women in her generation, Sen. Tallian grew up hoping she had what it took to break barriers. After being accepted into law school, Sen. Tallian graduated Magna Cum Laude from Valparaiso University’s School of Law in 1990 while taking care of three young kids. Sen. Tallian described her early career as a “tough balancing act.” As a single mother, she was responsible for providing for her children while often being “the only woman in the room” in her law practice. According to Sen. Tallian, “Being the only woman in the room was so normal for me, that it didn’t occur to me that that should bother me.”
Sen. Tallian wants future generations of women to know that the rights that they enjoy did not just happen overnight. The progress for women’s rights has been a continual struggle. To keep moving the ball forward, the work has to continue. Sen. Tallian emphasized that everybody does not move at the same rate, “so when you see people who haven’t caught up yet, you need to help by putting your hand out and pulling them along, whether that be a neighbor or someone halfway across the world.” Sen. Tallian likes to remind people of the words of Paul Simon when encouraging them to stay engaged and help move their community forward: we can’t allow our progress to go “slip slidin’ away.”
Right now, Senator Tallian is working on legislation to improve the day-to-day lives of all Hoosiers. We thank her for her dedicated service to the people of Indiana.