Pennsylvania’s New Speaker of the House Makes History

State Rep. Joanna McClinton, D-Phila./Delaware, was elected the first woman to serve as speaker of the Pennsylvania State House of Representatives in the chamber’s nearly 250-year history.  The 40 year old McClinton acknowledged the moment and her commitment to bipartisanship.

“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.”

“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,” McClinton said. “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.”

Chief Justice of Pennsylvania Debra Todd, the first female chief justice in Pennsylvania history, recognized women in Pennsylvania state government breaking new ground for future generations.

“The election of Rep. Joanna McClinton (D-Philadelphia) as the first female speaker of the House  along with the recent election of Senator Kim Ward(R-Westmoreland) as President Pro Tempore of the Senate are historic moments for women and send a strong message to every little girl wondering what her future may hold.

“For the first time in Pennsylvania history, women are rising to the highest levels of leadership. While we celebrate our collective achievements, we also pause to remember those who came before us; their strength propelled us to break through the glass ceiling and continues to drive women to new heights.”

McClinton, who was first elected in 2015, represents communities in west and southwest Philadelphia and Yeadon and Darby boroughs in Delaware County. Before being elected, she served as assistant public defender for seven years and became assistant chief of the East Zone during her last year.

In 2013, McClinton became chief counsel to state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams.  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.