Rep. McClinton Makes History Becoming Pennsylvania’s First Woman Elected Speaker

Having broken yet another glass ceiling, Speaker Joanna McClinton is handed the gavel and says she is “hopeful for the future of the Commonwealth and our communities.”
Photo courtesy of Office of the Governor of Pennsylvania Facebook page.

Democratic State Rep. Joanna McClinton (H-191)  was elected the first woman to serve as speaker of the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives in the chamber’s 247-year history and only the second African American since K. Leroy Irvis in 1977.

“In my career, I’ve been blessed to achieve other ‘firsts’ in this chamber, and I am equally honored to serve as this historic body’s first woman speaker,” said McClinton after the vote Tuesday. “I stand before you today, humbled and honored to be elected your speaker, and most importantly, my election today makes me more hopeful about the future of our commonwealth and our communities.”

McClinton said she is convinced that collaboration, debate and sincere cooperation will yield positive results.

“It took more than 240 years to give a woman the gavel in the Commonwealth — now a Black woman will preside over the House of Representatives at a pivotal time in the Commonwealth’s history. Representation matters,” said New Pennsylvania Project CEO Kadida Kenner. “For young girls (and boys) to see a resilient and powerful woman like Joanna McClinton with the gavel in her hand is a game changer. Her newest leadership role will pay dividends for generations to come. The glass ceiling has been shattered, and the sky is the limit.”

Bucks County Rep. Brian Munroe (D-144) said he was incredibly proud to have participated in the vote to name Representative McClinton Speaker of Pennsylvania’s House.

“Over the last few months, I’ve gotten to know the new Speaker as an honorable, dynamic, caring, and professional leader, and I know she’ll help us move PA forward,” he said.

McClinton made history in 2018 when she was elected the first woman and first African American to be elected as House Democratic Caucus chair, and again in 2020, when she was the first woman elected House Democratic leader. Most recently, McClinton became the first woman to serve as majority leader.

“Today can be our fresh start. Each of us is here because our neighbors have placed their trust in us. And that collective trust is what empowers us to act in the interest of our communities and to advance Pennsylvania for the common good,” Speaker McClinton said.

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Jenny Stephens

Jenny Stephens is a freelance journalist who has written for a variety of publications, including The Reporter. An avid collector of all things vintage, she resides in the Philadelphia area.

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