Rep. Donna Oberlander
63rd District

Continuing to rely on her proven entrepreneurial and public sector experience to advance economic development opportunities and preserve traditional values to make Clarion and Armstrong counties an even better region to live, work and raise a family, Donna Oberlander was elected to serve her eighth term as state representative for the 63rd Legislative District in November 2022.

In June 2020, Donna made state history by becoming the first Republican woman and only the second woman in the history of the Pennsylvania General Assembly to be elected as Majority Whip, the third highest position in the House Republican Caucus. Her other leadership positions include Policy Chairman from 2018-20 and Caucus Secretary from 2015-18. She was the first woman to chair the Policy Committee and the first representative from the 63rd District to achieve this advanced leadership role.

She also has served as chairman of the House Diabetes Caucus, where she led House passage of significant legislation to help people diagnosed with this health condition. She has also co-chaired the House Manufacturing Caucus, which allowed members to interact with the manufacturing community on relevant issues and policy, help create pro-manufacturing legislation and raise the profile of the industry; along with the House Gas and Oil Caucus. In this capacity, she helped lead policy discussions, developed legislation and eliminated burdensome, unnecessary and outdated regulations – all in an effort to promote responsible growth of the state’s natural gas and oil industry.

Her tenure in the House has also included services as a House Republican Deputy Whip and membership on the following standing committees: Appropriations, Children and Youth, Environmental Resources and Energy, and Local Government, along with previously serving as a board member of the Pennsylvania Infrastructure Investment Authority (PennVEST).

To date, seven of her bills have been signed into law, including Act 130 of 2022, which would permit for the driverless testing and deployment of autonomous cars and trucks on Pennsylvania roadways, leading to the creation of thousands of new jobs and billions of dollars in investment in the Commonwealth. Her other laws include: Act 25 of 2021, which exempts large data centers from the sales and use tax for the purchase of large-scale equipment; and Act 7 of 2020, which requires the Pennsylvania Department of Health to regulate milk banks, which are entities that gather, process and distribute mothers’ milk for medically fragile newborns.

She began her legislative career in spearheading the repeal of a Uniform Construction Code mandate that required sprinkler systems to be installed in all newly constructed residential housing (Act 1 of 2011). Other laws she has authored include Act 45, which renamed a local bridge in memory of a local hero who died in action in Afghanistan, and Act 13, which allowed Pennsylvania to opt out of abortion coverage through federal health care exchanges as part of the Affordable Care Act. She also authored Act 171 of 2016, which requires the state Department of General Services to establish a process to formally recognize all Pennsylvania-based minority-, woman- and veteran-owned businesses – also known as “diverse/disadvantaged” businesses – to make it easier to do business.

Supplementing her work with the small business community and job creators, Donna is a member of the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center’s (SBDC) Advisory Board and the Pittsburgh Supercomputing Center’s Advisory Committee. She is able to use her experience as a certified finance professional from the National Development Council, a former business outreach manager with Clarion County Economic Development Corporation and a former small business owner to help other entrepreneurs and business owners. In recognition of her strong support for pro-business legislation, she has earned consecutive “Guardian of Small Business” awards from the Pennsylvania chapter of the National Federation of Independent Business (NFIB).

Her accolades continued during the most recent legislative session when she was named a recipient of the Be Someone for Kids award by the Pennsylvania Partnerships for Children for her advocacy for additional support for child care along with broader early care and education issues including pre-K and evidence-based home visiting programs. She was also presented with and the 2021 Legislative Leadership Award by the Rehabilitation and Community Providers Association for her efforts on behalf of those facing mental health challenges and for her ongoing efforts within the health and human services arena.

For her work to advance education initiatives, she received the Hillman Award and was named the “Pennsylvania Rural Educator of the Year” in 2015 from the Pennsylvania Association of Rural and Small Schools (PARSS). Oberlander was specifically cited for her contributions to improving education and opportunities for rural students.

In 2018, Donna was awarded with the Rural Health Legislator of the Year by the Pennsylvania Office of Rural Health. This honor recognizes a Pennsylvania legislator for outstanding work and support of rural health initiatives that address an identified need in their district or across the state. To help enhance her legislative work, Donna completed Clarion University’s program to become a certified recovery specialist for drug and alcohol addiction.

During 2019, Donna was selected by the Council of State Governments to participate in the prestigious Henry G. Toll Fellowship Program, which is one of the nation’s premier leadership development programs for state government officials. She was also named the 2019 Legislator Leader by the Pennsylvania Association of Conservation Districts Inc.; the Robert C. Keaton Government Leader Award by the Pennsylvania Defense Institute; and a Recovery Champion by the Armstrong-Indiana-Clarion Drug and Alcohol Commission.

Before her time in the state House, Donna was elected to the Clarion County Board of Commissioners, where she aggressively worked to control local government spending and took an active role in strategic planning for economic development and growth. A proud graduate of Clarion University, she actively serves as a member of the university’s Council of Trustees and was reappointed to the post in 2018.

Donna and her husband, Derek, a United States Marine Corps veteran, have two children, Tori and Tanner.

The 63rd Legislative District includes all of Clarion County and the Armstrong County communities of Boggs, Bradys Bend, Cowanshannock, Hovey, Kittanning, Madison, Mahoning, Perry, Pine, Plumcreek, Rayburn, Redbank, Sugarcreek, Valley, Washington, Wayne and West Franklin townships; Atwood, Dayton, Elderton, Kittanning, Rural Valley, South Bethlehem and Worthington; and Parker City.