HARRISBURG, PA — State Rep. Donna Bullock, D-Phila., chair of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus, on Thursday announced the awardees of the PLBC Crystal Bird Fauset Leadership Award during Women’s History Month.
The award is named in honor of former state Rep. Crystal Bird Fauset, who was a Democrat elected to the Pennsylvania House of Representatives in 1938 and represented Philadelphia’s 18th Legislative District. She was the first Black woman elected in any state legislature.
“For too long, Black women and their accomplishments have been ignored,” Bullock said. “This award stands for all of the accomplishments that have been made, all of the accomplishments we are making, and all the accomplishments that are coming. I am so proud to honor each of these Black women with the PLBC Crystal Bird Fauset Leadership Award. In history, some of the greatest movements have been led by Black women — from the Underground Railroad to the Black Lives Matter movement — and too often the leadership had been minimized. Our honorees… carry on the great legacy of outstanding women who embody the spirit of Fauset and who have made significant contributions to Pennsylvania and the Black community as leaders and history makers.”
The honorees are the House Democratic leader, state Rep. Joanna McClinton, first Black woman leader in the Pennsylvania General Assembly; Estelle Richman, former secretary of the Pennsylvania Department of Public Welfare; and Lt. Col. Kristal Turner-Childs, the first Black woman lieutenant colonel in the Pennsylvania State Police.
As a state lawmaker, she has made history by being elected to two separate leadership posts, first as House Democratic caucus chair and again when she was the first woman elected House Democratic leader in the institution’s 244-year history.
A graduate of La Salle University and Villanova University School of Law, she was an assistant public defender for seven years and became assistant chief of the East Zone during her last year, helping attorneys with case preparation. In 2013, she became chief counsel to state Sen. Anthony Hardy Williams.
She has earned several distinctions for her commitment to public service, including City and State PA’s 40 Under 40, Power of Diversity: Black 100, and Above & Beyond lists; the Barristers’ Association of Philadelphia’s Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year award; Fun Time Magazine’s Women of Influence Award; the PRE-K for PA Champion award; the Lucien E. Blackwell Guiding Light Community award; the Black Gala Women of Excellence; and Politico Recast’s Power List 2022.
Richman earned her undergraduate degree from Case Western Reserve University and her master’s degree from Cleveland State University. She holds honorary doctorates from Alvernia University, Drexel University and Temple University.
As Public Welfare secretary, Richman oversaw agency efforts that resulted in an increased percentage of foster children finding permanent homes, a drop in the waiting list for mental-retardation services, improved child-support collection programs, and the creation of the state’s first Bureau of Autism. In 1998, she was awarded the Ford Foundation/Good Housekeeping Award for Women in Government.
In 2010, she began the position of chief operating officer of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
In 2016, Gov. Tom Wolf nominated her to join the Philadelphia School Reform Commission. She was confirmed in May 2017 and was serving as the SRC chair when the commission dissolved in 2018.
Turner-Childs was appointed by Wolf as deputy commissioner of staff for the Pennsylvania State Police last fall. She is the first Black woman in the department’s 116-year history to attain the rank.
She began with PSP in February 1998 and was assigned to Troop J, Avondale after graduating from the academy. She served as the first Black female to command a troop when she was promoted to captain in 2015. She served as director of the Bureau of Forensic Sciences where she became the second African American woman to obtain the rank of major in 2018.
She is a 2005 graduate of Elizabethtown College with a bachelor’s degree in criminal justice. She also earned a Master of Professional Studies in Organizational Leadership from Central Penn College and is a graduate of the Northwestern University School of Police Staff and Command, and the FBI National Academy.
She is the recipient of numerous awards including the Harrisburg Regional Chamber and CREDC Athena Award, NCBW Trailblazer Award, and the Greater Harrisburg YWCA Woman of Excellence Award.
The Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus was founded in 1973. The purpose of the Pennsylvania Legislative Black Caucus is to serve as an information and advocacy vehicle to advance the interests of African American, Latino and other people of color of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.