PA Press Club Luncheon – Monday January 22, 2024

The Honorable  Jordan A. Harris

Pennsylvania House Majority Appropriations Chair

Jordan A. Harris was first elected in 2012 to represent the 186th Legislative District, which comprises communities in south and southwest Philadelphia. Harris began his ascension in leadership in 2018, after being elected Whip for the Democratic Caucus of the House of Representatives. Most recently, his colleagues elected him as the Democratic Appropriations Chair for the 2023-24 legislative session. Harris is the first African American to serve as both Whip and Appropriations Chair and the second African American in either position. Harris has also served as Chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus.

A lifelong resident of south Philadelphia, Harris graduated from Philadelphia’s John Bartram Motivation High School. He attended Millersville University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in Government and Political Affairs. He 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, Harris focused on his passion for helping children and young adults—as an educator in the city of Philadelphia, an employee in the Philadelphia Public School System, and as the Executive Director of Philadelphia’s Youth Commission.

Through his legislative work, Harris has become a national leader in criminal justice reform. Along with Republican co-sponsor Rep. Sheryl Delozier, Harris authored Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate Law. Clean Slate was signed into law in 2018 by Governor Tom Wolf and is regarded as a national model for automatically sealing certain criminal records. Since passing Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate Law, over 40 million criminal records have been automatically sealed in Pennsylvania, and multiple states have passed automatic record-sealing legislation. Congress currently has Clean Slate legislation awaiting action. On June 5, 2023, Harris and Delozier’s expansion of Pennsylvania’s Clean Slate law passed the House with overwhelming bipartisan support and is currently awaiting action by the Senate.

Harris also advocates reforming Pennsylvania’s outdated, archaic, and overly punitive probation system. In the 2021-22 legislative session, he co-sponsored with Delozier a probation reform bill with wide bipartisan support to reduce the incidents of technical violations that hold individuals under constant supervision.

Harris was named one of The Philadelphia Tribune Magazine’s “10 People Under 40 to Watch in 2011.” He was selected as Talk Magazine’s 101st person on their “2017 Most Influential Person” list in PA. He also received Odunde365’s 2017 Community Service Award for Positively Impacting Lives. In 2017, Philadelphia Magazine named Harris one of “Philadelphia’s 100 Most Influential People.” In 2019, Harris and the other bipartisan, bicameral Criminal Justice Reform Caucus co-founders were awarded the Allegheny College Prize for Civility in Public Life. In 2023, he was named as one of “Philadelphia’s 150 Most Influential Philadelphians” by Philadelphia Magazine.

Harris is 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. He is a member of Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity, Inc. Nu Sigma Chapter and Prince Hall Free and Accepted Masons Cephas Lodge #98.