Cherelle L. Parker was born to a single teenaged mother and raised by her grandparents, James & Dorothy Parker. As a proud product of the School District of Philadelphia (SDP), she attended Rowen Elementary, Austin Meehan Middle, and Parkway Program High School(s). Cherelle began to pursue her passion for public service at the tender age of 17, after having made history by becoming the first student in the SDP to win both the Citywide Black and Women’s History Month Oratorical Competitions in the same year. It was during this period that she decided it was time for her to get involved in improving the quality of life in her neighborhood. Cherelle became an intern at the socially conscious WDAS Radio Station and a volunteer for the Friends of the Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation (FOARC), the community engagement arm of a Community Development Corporation which breathed new life into the West Oak Lane Community in which she was reared.
During her undergraduate tenure at The Lincoln University, where she obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree in English Education, Cherelle was an active member of the student body. She was elected by her peers and served as the Vice President for External Affairs (1992-1993) & President (1993-1994). Furthermore, she also served for 15 years, starting as an intern and ending as the senior staffer for Philadelphia City Councilwoman Marian B. Tasco of the Ninth Councilmanic District. In this capacity, Cherelle oversaw the implementation of all economic and community development projects in the Ninth Councilmanic District, wrote speeches while managing public relations, and assisted with the development of local policy/legislative initiatives. She is most noted for her role in the development of the toughest Anti-Predatory Lending Legislation in the nation and for overseeing the development of the $5.5M state of the art Dorothy Emanuel Recreation Center in Northwest Philadelphia. Cherelle is also a Certified Secondary English Teacher, who taught at Pleasantville High School in New Jersey. There, she also taught English as a Second Language (ESL) to immigrant children and adults.
Her Election & Commitment to Coalition Building
In a September 2005 Special Election, Cherelle made history again, by becoming the youngest African-American woman ever elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (PAHR). As State Representative for the 200th Legislative District, she represents approximately 60,000 residents in the Mount Airy, Chestnut Hill, Roxborough and Andorra sections of Northwest Philadelphia.
Rep. Parker has earned a reputation for being one of the most results-oriented, politically savvy, and pro-active legislators in the tri-state region. She is a highly sought after public speaker known for her “straight-forward” approach in communicating with the public. Rep. Parker has been one of the top 3 Voter-Getters amongst all 203 members of the PAHR since her arrival. She is also known for her strong organizational, strategic planning, and managerial skills. With this aptitude, Rep. Parker was elected by her Philadelphia colleagues to serve as Chair of the Philadelphia Delegation in the PAHR. She has also successfully secured membership on the powerful House Appropriations Committee, Labor & Industry, Rules, Transportation – Democratic Chair – Subcommittee on Public Transportation, and Professional Licensure Committees. In 2013, Rep. Parker was also appointed Vice Chair/Democratic Chair of the PAHR Select Committee on School Safety.
As chair of the Philadelphia Delegation, Rep. Parker was the first chairperson in decades, to restructure the Delegation to include her Republican colleagues from the Philadelphia region to participate in Delegation events, policy making and meetings. Firmly believing that no one gets anything accomplished in government alone, she has also set a precedent for the working relationship of elected officials in the City of Philadelphia. As chair, she has brought all parties (the Mayor, City Council, School District, PA House and Senate members) together to discuss various issues impacting the City of Philadelphia and by establishing a process that requires in writing, from all vested parties, their commitment and agreement on a position, thus overcoming the infamous Harrisburg strategy to divide and conquer Philadelphia.
Also, when necessary and relevant, Rep. Parker has asked other key stakeholders to participate in the legislative process (i.e., the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, SEPTA, unions, etc.). Never has the Philadelphia region been more united in Harrisburg.
Understanding the importance of bi-partisanship, Rep. Parker has also developed strong working relationships not only in the Democratic Caucus, but with Republican Leadership and Administration Officials through her work and leadership on several legislative and policy initiatives.
Her Issues & Advocacy
Since her election, Rep. Parker has been proactive in supporting Economic Development opportunities to benefit Philadelphians and all Pennsylvanians. With the enhancement of neighborhood commercial corridors being one of her passions, Rep. Parker and other community based organizations worked to improve Wadsworth Avenue, the gateway from Philadelphia to the suburbs, by securing the funding for the installation of 19 pedestrian scale streets lights, 42 trees, tree lights and business awnings on Wadsworth Avenue, which marked one of many projects supported by Rep. Parker to enhance the quality of life in the 200th Legislative District. To date, she has assisted in securing over $5.85M for capital projects and community based organizations throughout the 200th District.
Rep. Parker also led the fight for commonsense reforms targeted against illegal guns, along with five other state legislators from across the country, to develop a new coalition aimed at ending their use. This coalition, State Legislators Against Illegal Guns (SLAIG), is heavily supported by former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. Advocating for the mandatory Reporting of Lost and Stolen guns and Universal Background Checks have been at the nucleus of her advocacy.
In the fall of 2009, Rep. Parker was selected to join the prestigious Eisenhower Fellowships, of which retired Gen. Colin Powell serves as chairman. In 2010, as part of the fellowship’s “Women in Leadership” program, Rep. Parker traveled to Argentina and Chile and interacted with women in the South American political system. She focused on the following areas: understanding how elected officials use public policy to improve the quality of life for their constituency; learning how officials stabilize their communities by bridging the gap between the “haves” and the “have-nots”; and studying how they economically sustain their communities. This educational opportunity further solidified Rep. Parker’s commitment to using her voice to advocate for the passage of progressive public policies that will enhance the quality of life for the middle class, senior citizens, women, children and families alike while promoting job creation & sustainability, economic development and consumer protection laws.
Rep. Parker is also a staunch advocate for Public Education. Implementation of an adequate, equitable and fair funding formula for all schools in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania remains one of her top legislative priorities. In addition, she led opposition in the PAHR against Payday Lending and the Voter ID Law that was recently struck down by the courts. It was Rep. Parker who created the Voter Identification Education Guide (VIEG) as a resource to arm constituents with the proper information needed to acquire a Valid ID for voting purposes when this law was passed. This guide was replicated for use statewide by the PAHR Democratic Caucus.
Her Legislative Victories
Other legislation that she has recently sponsored and/or served as one of the lead advocates for, which became law in Pennsylvania, include but is not limited to:
- ACT 89 OF 2013 – $2.5B TRANSPORTATION BILL ($500M DEDICATED TO MASS TRANSIT)
- ACT 93 OF 2013 – ASSIST MUNICIPALITIES ACROSS PA IN THE COLLECTION OF DELINQUENT PROPERTY TAXES
- ACT 94 OF 2013 – PROVIDE PROPERTY TAX RELIEF TO LONGTERM OWNER OCCUPANTS IN PHILADELPHIA
- ACT 106 OF 2013 – ALLOW PHILADELPHIA HOMEOWNERS THE OPTION TO PAY TAXES IN INSTALLMENTS
- H.R. 53 OF 2013 – ESTABLISHED PAHR BIPARTISAN SELECT COMMITTEE ON SCHOOL SAFETY
- ACT 75 OF 2012 – ALLOW EXPERTS TO TESTIFY IN CASES OF SEXUAL ASSAULT
- ACT 131 OF 2012 – ALLOW PHILADELPHIA TO OFFER HOMESTEAD EXEMPTION & DELAYED AVI FOR 1 YEAR
- ACT 160 OF 2012 – ALLOW SDP TO ADJUST SCHOOL TAX RATES TO PREVENT INCREASES IN TAX BILLS
- H.R. 203 OF 2009 – ESTABLISHED ADVISORY COMMISSION TO STUDY THE EFFECTS OF PARENTAL INCARCERATION ON THE CHILDREN OF INCARCERATED PARENTS. (STUDY COMPLETED – LEGISLATION TBD)
Her Service, Education & Connection to the People
Committed to the ideals of community involvement, political empowerment and progressive social change, Rep. Parker is a committeeperson and first vice chairwoman of the 50th Ward Democratic Executive Committee. She is also an active member of a plethora of boards and service-oriented organizations, which include but are not limited to: Lincoln University Board of Trustees; Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter; 2000 African American Women; National Congress of Black Women, Philadelphia section; and the National Coalition of 100 Black Women, Pennsylvania chapter.
Representative Parker has been honored on many occasions for her contributions to the community and overall commitment to public service. These honors include, but are not limited to:
- Award, Moorish Science Temple of America, Distinguished Service Award, 2014
- Award, African Genesis Institute, Dr. Edward Robinson, Jr. Medallion Award, 2013
- Award, Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania, Freedom Keeper Award, 2012
- Award, Urban Affairs Coalition, Dream Catchers’ Award, 2012
- Award, First Annual Louise Williams Bishop Women in Politics Breakfast, A Leader on the Rise, 2010
- Award, Rising Star, EMILY’s List, 2009
- Selected, MS Leadership Class, National Multiple Sclerosis Society, 2009
- Selected, One of 40 under 40 to Watch, Philadelphia Business Journal, 2009
- Selected, Most Influential African Americans in Phila., Philadelphia Tribune, 2006-2013
- Selected, Area’s 101 Connectors, Leadership Philadelphia’s Connector Project, 2006 & 2008
- Award, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, African American Women Achievers, 2008
- Award, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, Phenomenal Women, Rho Chapter, 2008
- Award, Legends in Making, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., Philadelphia Alumnae Chapter, 2007
- Award, Frank “Tick” Coleman Outstanding Alumni, Lincoln University Alumni Association, 2007
- Award, Envisioning the Dream – Black History Maker, Radio-One & Verizon, 2007
- Award, Woman of Distinction, TEENSHOP Inc., 2006
- Award, Movers & Shakers in Philadelphia, American Women’s Heritage Society, 2006
- Award, David P. Richardson Future Leader, School District of Philadelphia, 2005
- Award, Outstanding Community Service, Greater Philadelphia Asian Social Services, 2004
- Certificate of Participation, Grace TEENSHOP of Germantown, 2004
- Award, Outstanding Community Service, Philadelphia Youth Summit Committee, 1999
- Certificate of Excellence, Lincoln University Alumni Association, 1998
- Award, Rising Star, Lincoln University Founder’s Day Celebration, 1998
- Award, Outstanding Community Service, Oak Lane Youth Association, 1998
- National Recognition, Outstanding Young Woman of America 31st Edition, 1997
- Award, Outstanding Community Service/Co-Coordinator, Philadelphia Youth Summit, 1997
- Certificate of Recognition, School District of Philadelphia/McCloskey Network, 1997
- Award, Best Teacher – 2nd Place (Student Issued), Pleasantville High School Student Body, 1995
- Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities, 1994
- Award, Most Likely to Succeed, Lincoln University Student Body, 1992
- Dean’s List, Lincoln University, 12/1991 – 5/1993 – 5/1994
In addition, she has academically achieved the following accomplishments:
- Fellowship to Chile & Argentina, Women’s Leadership Program, Eisenhower Fellowships, (2010)
- Honorary Doctorate of Divinity, Lutheran Theological Seminary, (2009)
- Certificate of Completion, Senior Executives in State and Local Government, Executive Education, Harvard University ~ Kennedy School of Government, (2008)
- Certificate of Completion, Leadership Philadelphia, (2008)
- Delegate to Australia, American Council of Young Political Leaders (ACYPL), (2006)
- Executive Education Certificate, University of Virginia ~ Darden School of Business Emerging Political Leaders Program, (2006)
- Bachelor of Science Degree, English Education, Lincoln University, Oxford, PA, (1994)
- Certification, Teacher of English, New Jersey Department of Education, (1994)
- Certificate of Completion, Law Education & Teaching Project, Temple University, (1989)
Rep. Parker is humbled and honored to have the vote of confidence from constituents of the 200th Legislative District. There is a tremendous amount of work to be done, but the 200th Legislative District can find relief in knowing that Cherelle L. Parker has a seat at the table when important decisions are made regarding community projects, economic development and statewide legislative initiatives.
Rep. Parker is a wife and mother residing in the Mt. Airy section of Philadelphia. She enjoys reading, traveling, cooking and spending time with family and friends during her leisure.