Current Position: Virginia State Senator from 2017 - Senate District 9
Jennifer McClellan was elected to the Senate of Virginia in January 2017. She serves on the Agriculture, Conservation & Natural Resources, Local Government, and Transportation Committees. Jennifer chairs the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial Commission, and serves on the Virginia Indian Commemorative Commission and the Task Force on the Preservation of the History of Former Enslaved African Americans. She co-chairs the Capital Region Caucus, serves as Vice Chair of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, and is a member of the Rural Caucus, Women’s Health Care Caucus, and Fire and EMS Caucus. She also serves on the Southern Regional Education Board Legislative Advisory Council. In 2017, she was selected to be a Hunt-Kean Leadership Fellow. Since 2008, she has served as a guest columnist for the Richmond Times Dispatch during the General Assembly Session.
Prior to her election to the Senate, Jennifer was a member of the Virginia House of Delegates for 11 years, serving on the House Education, Commerce and Labor, and Courts of Justice Committees, the Virginia Crime Commission (Executive Committee) and the Virginia Conflicts of Interest and Ethics Advisory Council.
During her tenure in the General Assembly, Jennifer has served as a member of Governor Ralph Northam’s Transition Committee, Chair of Governor McAuliffe’s Transition Team, and as a member of Governor McDonnell’s Domestic Violence Prevention and Response Advisory Board, Governor Kaine’s Poverty Reduction Task Force and Commission on Sexual Violence, and the Civil Rights Memorial Commission.
Respected on both sides of the aisle and the recipient of numerous awards, Jennifer has earned a reputation as an effective, constituent services oriented legislator who can find common ground with Republicans while standing up for progressive values. She has been a leader on improving education, breaking the school-to-prison pipeline, criminal justice reform, combatting domestic and sexual violence, diversifying Virginia’s economy, civil rights, and ethics reform. As the only House member to be pregnant while in office, she has been a fierce protector of women’s reproductive rights, children, and families.
Jennifer’s legislative accomplishments include establishing anti-bullying and lactation policies in public schools; reporting school discipline outcomes by race, gender, ethnicity, and disability; clarifying responsibilities of school resource officers; increasing penalties for stalking; strengthening law enforcement tools to combat crimes against children; reforming Virginia’s child marriage laws; authorizing new business models such as benefit corporations; establishing protections against predatory lending; and eliminating mandated waiting periods for sterilization.
Jennifer is an Assistant General Counsel at Verizon Communications, focusing on state regulatory and government affairs for several states. She is a member of the Virginia Bar Association (VBA) Board of Governors, the Virginia State Bar, the Metropolitan Women’s Bar Association, the Richmond Bar Association, and the Oliver Hill/Samuel Tucker Bar Association. She previously served on the Virginia State Bar’s Diversity Conference, Young Lawyers Conference (Past President), and Corporate Counsel Section (past Chair), and as Vice Chair of the VBA Pro Bono Task Force.
Jennifer’s community service extends to a wide variety of state and local organizations. She serves as a member of the Boards of the YWCA of Richmond, the Children’s Museum of Richmond, Chippenham/Johnston Willis Hospital, the Virginia League of Planned Parenthood, the Moton Museum, and Virginia Premier Health Plans. She is also a member of the Virginia Center on Aging Advisory Committee.
Jennifer is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the Junior League of Richmond, the Fan District Association, the Fan Women’s Club, the League of Women Voters, the Richmond NAACP, and the Richmond Crusade for Voters. She is a graduate of the Sorensen Institute of Political Leadership’s 2001 Political Leaders Program and 2005 Candidate Training Program, and member of the 2004 Class of Leadership Metro Richmond.
Jennifer has also been a longtime Democratic Party activist and leader at the local, state, and national level. She serves as a member of the Democratic National Committee. She previously served as a member of the DNC’s Resolutions Committee (2015-2017) and the Association of Democratic Chairs (2002-2010). On the state level, Jennifer is a member of the Democratic Party of Virginia Steering and Central Committees, and previously served as 1st Vice Chair, Organization (2007-2010), Vice Chair for Outreach (2002-2007), and Chair of the 3rd Congressional District Democratic Committee (2001-2002). She has been active with local Democratic committees in Richmond, Chesterfield County, and Charlottesville. She served three consecutive terms as president of the Virginia Young Democrats (1994-1997), and is the founding president of the Metro Richmond Area Young Democrats (1997-2004). She served as a page to the 1996 Democratic National Convention and a Delegate to every convention since 2000.
Prior to elected office, Jennifer was appointed by Governor Mark Warner to the Virginia College Building Authority (2002-2005), serving two years as Vice Chair. She also served on the Board of the Richmond Metropolitan Authority from 2004-2008.
Jennifer was born in Petersburg, Virginia. She received a Bachelor’s degree from the University of Richmond and law degree from the University of Virginia. She is married to David Mills, and has two children, Jackson and Samantha.
After law school, McClellan began practicing law at Hunton & Williams.
In 2005, McClellan ran for office for the first time, seeking a seat in the Virginia House of Delegates vacated by Viola O. Baskerville, who stepped down to run for lieutenant governor. McClellan won the election and from 2006 to 2017 served as the 71st District’s member of the Virginia House of Delegates, representing parts of the city of Richmond and Henrico County.
In 2010, McClellan made history as the first pregnant Virginia Delegate to participate in a legislative session.
When Terry McAuliffe was elected Governor of Virginia in 2013, McClellan headed the transition team.
McClellan is vice-chair of the Democratic Party of Virginia; as the highest ranking party officer of the gender opposite the party chair, she is also automatically a member of the Democratic National Committee. As a DNC member, she was a superdelegate to the 2008 Democratic National Convention.
McClellan was elected to the Virginia State Senate in a special election held on January 10, 2017, to fill the 9th District seat vacated by Donald McEachin’s election to the US House of Representatives. She defeated Liberty Party opponent Corey Fauconier. In the race, McClellan received endorsements from McEachin, as well as Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney, US Senators Tim Kaine and Mark Warner and Governor Terry McAuliffe.
McClellan works as regulatory counsel for Verizon.
The rights of many Virginians are under attack by those in the General Assembly who disapprove of who they are or the decisions they make, purportedly for religious reasons. Yet, the very doctrine they profess to protect demands compassion for all people, leaving judgment or condemnation to a higher power than government. Jennifer is committed to ensuring that Virginia lives up to the ideals of the Declaration of Independence that all men and women are created equal. Jennifer has fought to:
- Protect a woman’s right to choose
- Ensure all Virginians are afforded the same rights and civil liberties
- Safeguard fair and equal ballot access for every voter in Virginia
The Constitution of Virginia guarantees a high quality, free public school system for all children in the Commonwealth. However, Virginia has not always lived up to that promise. As the daughter of a third generation educator, Jennifer understands that a quality education is not just a lofty goal, but the key to success and financial independence. For that reason, Jennifer is committed to ensuring that Virginia provides its children with a high quality, free public education, and that Virginia builds a world-class system from pre-k to higher education. To that end, she has supported policies to fully fund and strengthen our public school systems and fought efforts to divert state funding away from it. Jennifer supports efforts to:
- Expand Early Education Opportunities
- Guarantee Competitive Teacher Salaries
- Expand Career and Technical Education Opportunities
- Ensure Bully-Free Environments
- Improve the Funding Formula for School Localities
- Maintain Affordability for Higher Education
Energy and the Environment
Jennifer is committed to protecting Virginia’s environment. She has focused on efforts to conserve Virginia’s natural resources, promote renewable energy and green jobs, and protect our environment. Her efforts include:
- Promote Renewable Energy
- Oppose Efforts to Lift the Ban on Uranium Mining
- Keep Sewer Waste Out of the James River
- Support Funding for Water Quality Improvement and Cleanup of the Chesapeake Bay
All Virginians deserve access to affordable, quality healthcare. However, too many are paying more for it, and far too many working Virginians do not have access. Jennifer is committed to common sense solutions to these problems, such as focusing on prenatal care, long-term care for our seniors and making the health care system more affordable and easier for citizens to navigate and understand. Jennifer also understands the importance of expanding insurance coverage, as too many families are only one illness or injury away from economic devastation. Jennifer has also fought measures that jeopardize the sanctity of the doctor-patient relationship or impose mandates that conflict with or broadly accepted, evidence-based standards of care. Jennifer has fought to:
- Expand Access to Affordable Health Care Coverage
- Protect Reproductive Health Care Decisions
- Ensure Affordable Prescription Drugs
- Help Family Caregivers Provide Long Term Care
Homeownership is part of the American Dream, yet many Virginia families struggle to find—or keep—affordable housing. While we are emerging from the worst economic downturn since the Great Depression, Virginia homeowners have lost billions of dollars of equity in their homes. Rental costs are rising faster than incomes. Foreclosures have devastated families and communities. Homelessness is on the rise for the first time in a decade. Many of Richmond’s teachers, nurses, police officers, and firefighters cannot afford to live in the communities they serve. Richmond also has become an economically segregated city, yet neighborhoods with low, moderate and high income housing integrated together lead to the strongest communities. Jennifer understands that stable housing is a significant step to self-sufficiency, and is committed to maintaining affordable housing for all income levels. Jennifer’s efforts include:
- Establish and Maintain the Virginia Housing Trust Fund
- Protect Homeowners from Foreclosure
- Maintain Affordable Rental Housing
- Reduce Tax Burdens on Homeowners
Jobs and the Economy
In Virginia’s ever changing economy, too many working Virginians continue to struggle to make a living. Jennifer has worked to ensure economic opportunity for all working Virginians and help Virginia’s economy adapt to changes in the marketplace to create jobs in new and growing industries. Jennifer has worked to:
- Protect and Grow Virginia Jobs
- Reduce Tax Burdens
- Expand Unemployment Assistance
- Protect Homeowners from Foreclosure
- Increase Wages and Curb Predatory Lending
One of the fundamental roles of government is to keep its citizens safe. In addition to combating crime, we must prepare for and respond to new threats. As a member of the Courts of Justice Committee, Jennifer has been on the front lines of a number of initiatives addressing public safety. These include promoting legislation to:
- Curb Gun Violence
- Combat Domestic & Sexual Violence
- Fight Human Trafficking
- Keep Virginia’s Citizens and Resources Safe
Delegate Jennifer McClellan: Virginia Leading LadiesNews & Events
Aug. 5, 2014