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Harris also advocates reforming Pennsylvania’s outdated, archaic, and overly punitive probation system.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.

Press Club Luncheon Monday, November 20, 2023

The Honorable Josh Shapiro

Governor of Pennsylvania

Josh grew up in Pennsylvania, watching his parents serve their community — his father was a pediatrician, and his mother was an educator. Their example inspired Josh to enter into public service, and from a young age, Josh recognized that standing up for others was how he wanted to spend his career. After marrying his high-school sweetheart Lori and welcoming their first child, Josh returned to his hometown and successfully ran for State Representative. As Representative, Josh helped write and pass some of the toughest ethics laws in state history. His work earned him a reputation as a rare public servant willing to take on the status quo — “a blast of oxygen in the smoke-choked back rooms of quid-pro-quo Harrisburg.”

Then, as Chairman of the Board of Commissioners in Montgomery County, Pennsylvania’s third-largest, Josh led a fiscal and ethical turnaround. Before he took office, Montgomery County had a $10 million budget deficit and an underfunded pension for county employees. Josh put the county back on solid financial footing, took early steps to combat the heroin epidemic, helped the first LGBTQ+ couples in Pennsylvania marry, and fired Wall Street money managers to save taxpayers and retirees millions.

In 2016, Josh successfully ran to be Pennsylvania’s Attorney General. As Attorney General, he has restored integrity to an office badly in need of reform and taken on big fights for the people. He has proven to Pennsylvanians he can bring people together to solve tough problems and is unafraid to enforce the law without fear or favor.

Josh exposed the Catholic Church’s decades-long cover up of child sexual abuse, identifying 301 predator priests and thousands of victims — and spurring investigations across the United States. He forced an agreement between two of the Commonwealth’s largest insurance companies, protecting health care access for nearly 2 million Pennsylvanians, and he has repeatedly gone to court to defend Pennsylvanians’ reproductive rights and a woman’s right to choose.

He has held more than 100 corrupt officials, Republicans and Democrats alike, accountable for breaking the law. Working with law enforcement partners at the local, state, and federal level, he’s arrested thousands of mid- and high-level drug dealers while getting thousands of illegal guns off our streets.

During the 2020 presidential election, Josh protected the right to vote and defended Pennsylvania’s election result, winning in court dozens of times before and after Election Day. He continues to call out the dangerous lies that undermine our democracy and provide steady, strong, and competent leadership to protect voting rights in Pennsylvania.

In January 2021, Josh was sworn in for his second term as Attorney General. He arrested more than 8,000 drug dealers while investigating and suing pharmaceutical companies and the CEOs who knowingly perpetuated the opioid crisis to line their own pockets. He stood up for everyday consumers, seniors who’ve been scammed, and students preyed upon by private lenders by obtaining over $328 million in relief to Pennsylvanians who have been ripped off. He led on criminal justice reform, bringing activists and law enforcement together to launch a new statewide police misconduct database, taking on employers who steal from Pennsylvania workers.

In November 2022, Josh made history as the highest vote-getter in Pennsylvania gubernatorial history. Alongside his running mate Austin Davis, Josh is working with every Pennsylvanian to move our Commonwealth forward.

Josh and Lori are the proud parents of Sophia, Jonah, Max, and Reuben.

PA Press Club Luncheon Monday, October 30, 2023

The Honorable Matt Bradford

PA House Majority Leader

Matt Bradford proudly represents the citizens of central Montgomery County, while serving in Democratic leadership as the House Majority Leader. Previously, he served in leadership as Chair of the House Appropriations Committee from 2018-2023, ensuring taxpayer dollars were invested and used responsibly in the state budget to provide the best quality of life for all Pennsylvanians.

Prior to being elected by his peers as Appropriations Chair, Matt served for two years as Chair of the House State Government Committee and spent eight years as a member of the Appropriations Committee, where he became known for pushing back against harsh cuts to public education funding, advocating for good, family-sustaining jobs and quality healthcare. As a father of four, Matt has seen firsthand the vitally important role a school plays in shaping children’s lives and has dedicated his work as an elected official to ensuring all kids have access to high-quality public schools.

A lifelong resident of southeastern Pennsylvania, Matt earned both his undergraduate and law degrees from Villanova University. During his time at Villanova, Matt volunteered as a local CYO basketball coach and president of the College Democrats.

As a law student, Matt developed a keen interest in advocating for the rights and needs of workers. He participated in the Union Summer program and, in 2003, earned a competitive Peggy Browning Fund Fellowship that allowed him to work with AFSCME on important labor law and policy issues. Matt went on to work with the United Steelworkers’ Office of General Counsel, where he continued to advocate for the safe, fair treatment of workers.

In 2006, Governor Ed Rendell appointed Matt to serve as municipal administrator and chief executive officer of Norristown Borough. Matt, who at the time was working as a litigator at a Philadelphia law firm, left his job and committed himself to serving the community. In less than three years, Matt led the municipality away from bankruptcy, securing public and private investments and overseeing major improvements to public services.

In 2009, Matt fused his passion for politics with his commitment to working families when he was elected to represent the citizens of the 70th Legislative District. He remains deeply committed to the community’s long-term success.

In addition to serving in the General Assembly, Matt is of counsel at a municipal law firm and continues to assist local public officials in confronting the pressing policy issues that impact hardworking Pennsylvanians.

Matt is an avid Philadelphia sports fan. He lives in Worcester Township with his wife, Renee, and their four children.

Next PA Press Club Luncheon – Monday September 18, 2023

Representative Bryan Cutler

Pennsylvania House Republican Leader

Serving his eighth term in Pennsylvania General Assembly, Bryan Cutler represents the 100th Legislative District in Lancaster County. In June 2020, he was elected by his colleagues to serve as the 139st Speaker of the House, having previously serving as the Majority Leader. He was re-elected Speaker on January 5, 2021.

Bryan’s emergence as one of Pennsylvania’s key leaders reflects his approach to life: Give back to the community that helped you. A lifelong resident of the Peach Bottom area, Bryan faced adversity as a high school student when both his parents were diagnosed with ALS (which eventually took both their lives) and he took on the responsibility of caring for them and his younger sister. The community helped out and embraced Bryan and his family, helping meet their every need.

At a time when most young adults headed off to college, Bryan worked and put himself through a trade school to become an X-ray technologist. Soon after, he married his high school sweetheart, Jennifer, and graduated summa cum laude, from Lebanon Valley College with a health care management degree. Following several years of working at the local hospital overseeing the budgets and daily operations of several sections in the radiology department, he pursued a law degree, focused on health care law, from Widener Law School and become a member of the Lancaster Bar Association and began practicing law with the firm of Nikolaus & Hohenadel.

The desire to give back to the community – which did so much for him and his family – drove Bryan to run for public office. He was elected in 2006.

Bryan’s extensive background in hospitals has also translated into writing laws to make the Commonwealth’s hospitals work more efficiently. His bill to eliminate redundant hospital accreditation procedures for hospitals that already meet all state licensing requirements, was signed into law as Act 60 of 2013. The law has allowed Pennsylvania hospitals to spend more of their time and money serving their patients.

Bryan has also lead efforts to ensure only the people eligible for human service assistance receive the help they need, helped reform the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), promoted greater integrity and transparency in state government strengthening lobbyist disclosure law, and most recently leading efforts to establish a state based health insurance exchange and reforming Pennsylvania’s election laws.

Bryan’s legislative achievements have all received strong bipartisan support and are a sign of his willingness to work together for the best interest of Pennsylvanians.

Bryan and his wife, Jennifer, have three children, Cheyanne, Caleb and Drew. The family lives on an 11-acre “hobby farm” in the same log cabin home where Bryan grew up. The Cutlers are active members of the Wrightsdale Baptist Church.