Jessica Benham is the State Representative for Pennsylvania House District 36, covering portions of the City of Pittsburgh and its suburbs. Jessica was elected in November 2020 and is serving her first term. As a state representative, she has focused on fighting for access to healthcare, a clean and healthy environment, fair funding for education, and LGBTQ and disability rights.
Since her election in 2020, Jessica has brought millions of dollars into the district to invest in infrastructure, green spaces, education, violence prevention, and public safety. Her office has expanded services for seniors by hosting senior fairs, health clinics, and ensuring that everyone can access COVID-19 vaccines through their local pharmacies. When the unemployment system failed Pennsylvanians who had lost their jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic, Jessica publicly stood up to the Governor's Department of Labor and Industry, demanding and delivering benefits to workers.
Prior to her election, Jessica was the Director of Development for the Pittsburgh Center for Autistic Advocacy (PCAA), a grassroots self-advocacy project run by Autistic people for Autistic people. Jessica is an advocate for Autistic rights, helping parents, teachers, and healthcare professionals better understand Autistic people and reducing barriers to employment for Autistic adults. Through her work at PCAA, Jessica worked to ensure that individuals with disabilities are treated fairly in the legislative process.
Jessica is an alum of the University of Pittsburgh, where she was involved in the effort to organize a union of graduate workers. She knows firsthand the importance of organizing and the power that collective bargaining can have.
Jessica is the first openly Autistic state legislator in PA and the first out LGBTQ+ woman in the General Assembly. Jessica has BA degrees in Political Science and in Communication Studies from Bethel University, an MA in Communication from Minnesota State University, and an MA in Bioethics from the University of Pittsburgh. She lives in the Southside Slopes with her cat, Ravi.