Emily, the daughter of City of Pittsburgh paramedics, was born on the North Side and her family lived on Island Avenue across from Oliver High School. Her father received a medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh and he completed his residency at Mercy Hospital. Eventually, her father’s career took her family out of the Pittsburgh area and the family ultimately landed in Grand Forks, North Dakota.
It was here that Emily’s political activism was fostered and she became a devoted Democrat. In 2004, while she was in high school, the Vermont Supreme Court legalized marriage equality for same sex couples, which triggered North Dakota and other state legislatures to pass state constitutional amendments defining marriage as “between one man and one woman.” She was appalled that our government believed that it could dictate who people loved. She was similarly spurred to action around reproductive justice given some in our government’s belief that it has a role in deciding when, how, and why people could and would give birth.
After she graduated high school, Emily and her family moved back to Pennsylvania. Emily attended Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania where she earned degrees in Biology and Political Science, with minors in Chemistry and Gender Studies. While at Bloom, Emily became active with an organization called Democracy Matters that harnesses the power of young people to drive the conversation around the negative impacts of money in politics and the ways in which it shuts out average Americans and shuts down debate on critical issues. Emily served as president of Democracy Matters for two years, organized numerous educational events, registered hundreds of college students to vote, and lobbied Harrisburg to pass public financing of elections for judicial races in Pennsylvania. Emily went on to serve on the Democracy Matters Board of Directors from 2009 through 2016.
When Emily graduated from Bloomsburg, it was during the deepest part of the recession and her plan to continue her work on government reform policy was waylaid. Instead, Emily took an opportunity to live and work in a community for persons with developmental disabilities in Washington, DC. Working at L’Arche, Emily assisted these persons, the Core Members, through their activities of daily living, and helped to advocate for them in the community at large.
After her time at L’Arche, Emily had the opportunity to return to working on government reform issues at Common Cause. There, she helped organize programming including education around the disenfranchising effects of gerrymandering and money in politics. She was involved in Common Cause’s exposure of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) and the Koch Brothers’ influence over our political system. She also helped to coordinate Common Cause’s role in the first ever Power Shift conference, which mobilized the young people to demand responsive climate change policy. She also volunteered with Briefcase Brigades, an initiative that served to highlight the widespread unemployment and underemployment of young people.
Emily then worked in the Legislative Policy office of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which worked to promote the important impact NIH has in advancing human health and advocated to Congress for its continued support in government funding of medical research. It was here that Emily decided that she wanted to attend law school and return to a role of more direct advocacy. At the same time, Emily was also seeking to set down roots and realized that it was time to return home.
Emily moved back to Pittsburgh and pursued her law degree at her father’s alma mater, the University of Pittsburgh. During law school, Emily interned with a legal aid center in Eldoret, Kenya, protecting the rights of HIV+ individuals and victims of gender or domestic violence. She also interned at Neighborhood Legal Services in Pittsburgh, providing representation to low-income tenants in landlord-tenant disputes across the region. Additionally, Emily worked at the Pitt Law Immigration Clinic, mostly representing clients seeking asylum in the U.S.
In addition to her class work and internships, Emily was actively involved within the Pitt Law community. She served on the board of a student-run 501(c)(3) – the Pitt Legal Income Sharing Foundation (PLISF) – that raised money for and provided stipends to students who took unpaid, public interest summer internships. Emily also served as President of the Pitt Law Democrats during the 2015-2016 academic term. In this role, Emily volunteered on the historic campaigns that resulted in Democrats sweeping statewide judicial races and securing a critical Democratic majority on the Pennsylvania Supreme Court with the election of Justices Dougherty, Wecht, & Donohue, as well as sending two well-qualified Democrats to our intermediate appellate courts, Judge Dubow of the Superior Court and Judge Wojcik of the Commonwealth Court.
Upon completion of her J.D. and successful passage of the Bar exam in 2016, Emily clerked with Judge Wojcik on the Commonwealth Court for two years before entering private practice.
In addition to her political work, Emily served as mentor to middle school students through the Higher Achievement Program. Emily also volunteers with the Junior League in their efforts to combat food insecurity in the region. Emily serves on the board of Social Venture Partners, which provides access to expertise, as well as funding, for local nonprofits in order to build their capacity. Emily also serves on the board of Scenic Pittsburgh, an organization dedicated to preserving scenic integrity of southwest Pennsylvania and expanding green spaces. Additionally, Emily is active in the Allegheny Bar Association. Specifically, Emily serves on the Council of the Young Lawyers Division and serves as co-chair of a sub-committee of the Women in the Law Division that is dedicated to combating bias in the legal profession and judicial system. Emily is an alum of New Leaders Council Pittsburgh and the CORO Women in Leadership program.
Moving back to Pittsburgh, and in particular moving back to the North Side, Emily saw the incredible disparity of investment and growth between and among the neighborhoods in Pittsburgh. She saw the extreme division regarding where people live and the color of their skin. Emily moved down the street from her great-grandmother’s old house and knew that Grandma Peach would be incredibly disappointed to see how many storefronts sat empty. Meanwhile, in Lawrenceville, Polish Hill, and the Strip, people can no longer afford to live in places where their families have resided for generations, long-time businesses are going under, and people can no longer afford to shop where they used to. Food deserts abound. We can and we must do more.
Emily is running because she believes District 20 deserves active representation and a Democrat who will use a safe blue seat to fight for progressive values. She wants to go to Harrisburg to invest in responsible development, infrastructure, and a government that works for working people. Emily wants to prioritize reproductive justice, LGBTQIA+ equality, criminal justice reform, a livable minimum wage, policies that ensure clean air and clean water for everyone, and policies that address the fact that the Pittsburgh area is the least livable region for black people, especially black women.