Rep. Jordan Harris' Biography
State Representative Jordan Harris has emerged as a rising star and leading progressive voice in the Pennsylvania legislature on issues that matter most to his constituents, including criminal justice reform and education reform. First chosen to represent the 186th Legislative District on Nov. 6, 2012, Harris was most recently elected by his colleagues to serve as the Democratic Caucus Whip for the 2019-20 legislative session. The Whip is the second highest ranking position in leadership behind only the caucus leader.
Harris previously served as chairman of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus. Prior to being elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives, Harris was appointed as the Executive Director of Philadelphia's Youth Commission where he advised the Mayor, City Council and other key decision-makers on issues relating to the city's youth and young adults. In this office, Harris spearheaded initiatives that helped address and ultimately end Philadelphia's outbreak of nuisance flash mobs, including extending the hours of the city's recreation centers and creating alternative activities.
After graduating from Philadelphia’s John Bartram Motivation High School, Harris earned his Bachelor's Degree from Millersville University in Governmental and Political Affairs. He also holds a Master's Degree in Education from Cabrini College and is currently a Doctoral candidate in Educational Leadership at Neumann University. Before pursuing a career in public service, he worked as an educator in the Philadelphia Public School System for several years. Harris was also appointed as the Executive Director of Philadelphia's Youth Commission where he advised the Mayor, City Council and other key decision-makers on issues relating to the city's youth and young adults. He was also instrumental in designing Slam Dunk, a summer program that assisted over 600 high school students in meeting credit requirements for graduation.
Named one of The Philadelphia Tribune Magazine's "10 People Under 40 to Watch in 2011," Representative Harris is sought after to discuss youth leadership and development at universities, churches and on other platforms across the nation. Harris was selected as Talk Magazine’s 101st person on their 2017 Most Influential Person list in PA. He is also a recipient of Odunde365’s 2017 Community Service Award for Positively Impacting Lives. Harris is an informed advocate for the improvement of the educational system. He is passionate about a myriad of issues that affect the District he serves, including equal and quality education; employment and job creation; vocational training and job readiness programs; the rights and care of senior citizens; minority inclusion; bidding reform; and prison system reform. In 2017, Representative Harris was named one of the 100 Most Influential People in Philadelphia by Philadelphia Magazine.
Representative Harris has championed several issues since being elected to serve the residents of the 186th Legislative District, but one of his most notable criminal justice reform victories was getting Pennsylvania Clean Slate signed into law. A first in the nation, the legislation allows automatic sealing of records for second- or third-degree misdemeanor offenses that included a less than two-year prison sentence if a person has been free from convictions for 10 years, as well as sealing of criminal history records related to charges that resulted in non-convictions.This legislation, which Representative Harris has been working on since he was sworn into office, will allow many who have made mistakes in the past to move on and get a true second chance without being held back in job interviews or on higher education applications. Representative Harris joined Governor Tom Wolf as he signed the bill into law in June 2018.
Harris also welcomed Gov. Wolf to his district to discuss an executive order to “Ban the Box.” The governor announced he would update state employment applications to no longer ask about criminal history. Harris co-sponsored H.R. 296, which urged the Office of Administration to adopt a “Ban the Box” policy relating to certain state agency employment applications.
Harris has been instrumental in the work against gun violence in Pennsylvania. Working hand-in-hand with Gov. Wolf, the state is now approaching gun violence as a public health issue. The declaration will help the state drastically expand its response to the gun violence crisis. As part of the 2018-19 budget package, the General Assembly created a $60 million block grant program for school and community safety, making Pennsylvania a national leader in this fight.
Representative Harris championed a crackdown on nuisance businesses, known as “stop and gos” in Philadelphia and throughout Pennsylvania. He sponsored H.B. 1547, which offered provisions to be enforced by the state Liquor Control Board. Language from Harris’ bill made it into the Fiscal Code enacted with the 2017-18 state budget.
His work was essential in creating a partnership between Cheyney University and Starbucks aimed at improving access to higher education for African Americans and promoting the school's legacy as the nation's oldest historically black college.
Representative Harris is currently President of the Board of Directors at Lincoln Day Educational Center, the oldest continuously operating African American Day School in the country. Harris currently serves as a member of the Council of Trustees at his alma mater – Millersville University. He serves as a Member of the Board of the Hardy Williams Education Fund, the Christian Street YMCA, and the Knight Foundation. Harris is also the Co-Chair of the Oil and Gas Caucus. He is a member of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. Nu Sigma Chapter and Prince Hall Free and Accepted Masons Cephas Lodge #98.