• Press Release

Pennsylvania State Rep. Joanna McClinton Nominated for EMILYs List’s Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award

March 28, 2023


WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today EMILYs List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, announced that Pennsylvania state Rep. and Speaker of the Pennsylvania House Joanna McClinton is a nominee for the 10th annual Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award. EMILYs List President Laphonza Butler released the following statement:  

“Earlier this year, Joanna McClinton shattered a glass ceiling and made history as the first woman to serve as Pennsylvania speaker of the House, only the second Black legislator to ever serve in this role. McClinton is a shining example for Pennsylvanians, showing a way forward that future generations will be able to follow. Her work in the state House to champion reproductive freedom, reform the criminal justice system, and protect the rights of Black women and girls is absolutely critical, and we are honored to announce her as a nominee for the Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award.”

Rep. Joanna McClinton currently serves as speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives and is the first woman to hold this position. During her time in the legislature, she made history when she became the first woman and first Black person to serve as House Democratic Caucus chair, as well as the first woman to serve as majority leader. While shattering glass ceilings, McClinton has continued to champion criminal justice reform, voting rights, and abortion access.

Named in honor of the dedicated and courageous Gabrielle Giffords, the Rising Star Award celebrates an extraordinary woman serving in state or local office. The award honors a woman who demonstrates the sort of commitment to community, dedication to women and families, and determination and civility that have been the highlights of former Rep. Gabrielle Giffords’ career, in and out of office. Previous Rising Star Award recipients include former Georgia House Minority Leader Stacey Abrams in 2014, former Boston City Councilwoman Ayanna Pressley in 2015, former Colorado House Speaker Crisanta Duran in 2016, Philadelphia City Councilwoman Helen Gym in 2017, Cook County State’s Attorney Kim Foxx in 2018, and California Assemblywoman Wendy Carrillo in 2019; former Ohio House Minority Leader Emilia Sykes in 2020; Harris County, Texas Judge Lina Hidalgo in 2021; and former Georgia Rep. Bee Nguyen in 2022. 

The Gabrielle Giffords Rising Star Award winner will be chosen with community input. Online voting can be found here

Joanna McClinton is nominated alongside:

Shea Backus, Nevada State Representative
Sabrina Cervantes, California State Representative
Danica Roem, Virginia State Delegate
Fentrice Driskell, Florida State Representative
Michelle Au, Georgia State Representative

EMILYs List, the nation’s largest resource for women in politics, works to elect Democratic pro-choice women up and down the ballot and across the country with a goal of fighting for our rights and our communities. Our work is centered around a fundamental vision: Run. Win. Change the World. EMILYs List has raised $850 million in service to that vision and has helped Democratic women win competitive elections by recruiting and training candidates, supporting and helping build strong campaigns, researching the issues that impact women and families, running one of the largest independent expenditure operations for Democrats, and turning out women voters to the polls. Since our founding in 1985, we have helped elect the country’s first woman as vice president, 175 women to the House, 26 to the Senate, 20 governors, and over 1,500 women to state and local office. More than 40% of the candidates EMILYs List has helped elect to Congress have been women of color. Visit www.emilyslist.org for more information.