Joanna McClinton, 40, became the first woman to serve as the speaker of the Pennsylvania House in its 250 years of history. She clinched the position as a result of a razor-thinone-vote Democratic majority.
“I’m grateful for all who fought before me … so that this day was possible. It is only on their shoulders that I stand here today.”
McClinton, who has been a member of the state representative since 2015, grew up in Southwest Philadelphia. Known as a strong advocate for the criminal justice system and a proponent of women’s health issues, McClinton has an impressive seven years professional record in the state legislature.
“It was almost 250 years before a woman could stand at this desk, not just to give a prayer, but to get the gavel,” McClinton said after being sworn in. “That’s pretty incredible.”
“I’m grateful for all who fought before me … so that this day was possible,” McClinton said. “It is only on their shoulders that I stand here today.”
McClinton graduated from LaSalle University and Villanova Law School and worked as a public defender before becoming a member of the state legislature. Her ascent to the chair of the Speaker of the House marks a fitting end to Black History Month.
Her colleagues in the House also noted the occasion and offered their congratulations. “As a former Speaker of the House, I offer my congratulations to Speaker McClinton and wish her well on this tremendous responsibility,” State Rep. Bryan Cutler (R., Lancaster) said. “After, several months of gridlock and a state House of Representatives that has not been working for the people, we are in dire need of a reset. I hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle join us in working to move ahead.”