Meet Rep. Donna Oberlander
Rep. Donna Oberlander
63rd District
Majority Policy Committee Chairman

Continuing to rely on her proven entrepreneurial and public sector experience to advance economic development opportunities and preserve traditional values to make Clarion, Armstrong and Forest counties an even better region to live, work and raise a family, Donna Oberlander was elected to serve her sixth term as state representative for the 63rd Legislative District in November 2018.

For the 2019-20 legislative session, Donna serves as the chairman of the House Majority Policy Committee, an office within the House Republican leadership team. She is the first woman to hold the position and the first representative from the 63rd District to achieve this advanced leadership role. In this role, she will conduct hearings about important issues, gather testimony and information from key stakeholders and work with her colleagues in the House Republican Caucus to develop policies to address those issues. The Policy Committee works in tandem with the Speaker and Majority Leader to examine and refine critical pieces of legislation in advance of floor consideration.

She also serves as chairman of the House Diabetes Caucus, where she has led House passage of significant legislation to help people diagnosed with this health condition. This session, she also co-chairs the House Manufacturing Caucus, which allows members to interact with the manufacturing community on relevant issues and policy, help create pro-manufacturing legislation and raise the profile of the industry.

During the past few sessions, she also co-chaired the House Gas and Oil Caucus. In this capacity, she helped lead policy discussions, develop legislation and eliminate burdensome, unnecessary and outdated regulations – all in an effort to promote responsible growth of the state’s natural gas and oil industry.

In the prior two sessions, Donna served as Majority Caucus Secretary. 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.

To date, four of her bills have been signed into law, including a successful effort to repeal the 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 includes Act 45 to rename a local bridge in memory of a local hero who died in action in Afghanistan and Act 13 that allows 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 to require 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 was appointed in August 2018 to the Pennsylvania Small Business Development Center’s (SBDC) Advisory Board. 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).

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.

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 the fall of 2018.

Donna resides in Clarion with her husband, Derek, a United States Marine Corps veteran, and their two children, Tori and Tanner.

The 63rd Legislative District includes all of Clarion County and the Armstrong County communities of Bradys Bend, Cowanshannock, Hovey, Madison, Mahoning, Perry, Pine, Plumcreek, Redbank, Sugarcreek, Washington and Wayne townships and Atwood, Dayton, Elderton, Rural Valley and South Bethlehem boroughs, as well as Parker City, along with Jenks and Barnett townships in Forest County.