Rep. McClinton's Biography

Joanna McClinton, Esquire, took the oath of office to serve the people of west and southwest Philadelphia as well as Yeadon and Darby in Delaware County on Aug. 25, 2015 after winning a special election two weeks prior.

Since then, she’s made history twice in Pennsylvania! In 2018, she became the first woman and first African American to be elected as House Democratic Caucus Chair. But that’s not all. In 2020, she was the first woman elected House Democratic Leader in the 244-year history of the oldest legislative body in the country.

A lifelong resident of southwest Philadelphia and graduate of Grace Temple Christian Academy, she became active in the community while completing an internship with the radio station WDAS. Later, she studied Political Science and Leadership in Global Understanding at La Salle University where she was a Dean's List student, student leader and neighborhood tutor.

Immediately after graduating from LaSalle, she enrolled at Villanova University School of Law where she used her legal training to serve the public. She was an intern at Regional Housing Legal Services, the Philadelphia District Attorney's Office and the Defender Association of Philadelphia.

She was an assistant public defender for seven years and became assistant chief of the East Zone during her last year, helping attorneys with case preparation.

In 2013, Leader McClinton combined her passion for the community and the law by becoming chief counsel to state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams. She worked behind the scenes, developing policy and legislation; organizing expungement fairs and public policy forums; and assisting constituents.

Leader McClinton has held a variety of positions over the years, including:

  • Member of the Pennsylvania Commission on Sentencing.
  • Youth leader at her West Philadelphia home church, Open Door Mission.
  • Outreach to Youth and Hands of Compassion American Sign Language Ministry volunteer.
  • Board Member of the La Salle University Alumni Association Board of Directors.
  • Secretary of the Philadelphia Barrister's Association, the city's bar association of African American attorneys.

Leader McClinton has received several awards for her commitment to public service, including: City and State PA's 40 Under 40; the Barristers' Association of Philadelphia's Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year award; Fun Time Magazine's Women of Influence Award; the PRE-K for PA Champion award; the Lucien E. Blackwell Guiding Light Community award; and the Black Gala Women of Excellence award.