Rep. Joanna McClinton's Biography

House Democratic Leader Joanna McClinton was first elected in 2015 to serve communities in west and southwest Philadelphia, as well as Yeadon and Darby in Delaware County.

As a state lawmaker she has made history twice! First in 2018 when she became 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 in the institution’s 244-year history.

A lifelong resident of southwest Philadelphia and graduate of Grace Temple Christian Academy, she became active in her community while completing an internship with radio station WDAS. Later, she studied Political Science and Leadership in Global Understanding at La Salle University. After earning her degree, she enrolled at Villanova University School of Law, interning 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 public service and law by becoming chief counsel to state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams, where she worked behind the scenes to develop policy and legislation; organize expungement fairs and public policy forums; and assist constituents.

Leader McClinton has earned several distinctions for her commitment to public service including City and State PA's 40 Under 40, Power of Diversity: Black 100, and Above & Beyond lists, 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, the Black Gala Women of Excellence; and Politico Recast’s Power List 2022.