At the State House, Dan is a leading voice for social justice, women’s health, environmental protection, and gun regulation. He grew up in the district, watching Pittsburgh begin the transition away from its industrial roots and seeing how those changes affected the lives around him.
Dan’s parents set an example for Dan and his sister early on. Robert and Rebeca Frankel weren’t politicians, but they were engaged with their community, and when local leaders in their neighborhood and their faith community went looking for volunteers, they were not afraid to raise their hands.
Dan, too, raised his hand. When Dan was only 12, he made his first political speech – in support of Hubert Humphrey’s presidential campaign.
This was the Summer of 1968.
In the turbulent times, when the country was reeling from the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Bobby Kennedy, Dan saw an opportunity to make people’s lives better, and he thought the political system was the way to do it.
He started working on political campaigns as a teenager, and he was selected as a delegate to the 1976 Democratic convention at just 20 years old.
When he returned to Pittsburgh to work for the family insurance company after college, Dan invested himself in his community.
He served as chairman of the Pennsylvania Jewish Coalition and president of the Jewish Family and Children's Services board. As a member of the Urban Redevelopment Board, he joined efforts to revitalize the city after the collapse of the steel industry.
Dan remained interested in politics, too, campaigning hard in local races and learning from victories and losses.
Dan saw Pittsburgh as a modern city in the making.
A place with new industries and progressive values, where residents believed in equality and social justice. Voters responded to that vision and elected Dan to the Pennsylvania House in 1998.
One of the first bills he introduced was The Fairness Act, which would explicitly ban discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity or expression in employment, housing and public accommodations such as access to restaurants or hotel rooms. He continues to fight for that bill today.
As Democratic Caucus chair, he is a member of the leadership team that shapes the policy direction of the House Democrats.
He also travels the state to help progressive candidates return Pennsylvania to a Democratic-majority legislature. Before being elected caucus chair, he served as Allegheny County Delegation chair.
He is co-chairman of LGBT Equality Caucus, the PA SAFE Caucus, the PA Women's Health Caucus, the Blue-Green Caucus, the Arts and Culture Caucus, and others.
Frankel graduated from Pennington School in 1974. He earned his bachelor's degree in political science in 1978 from Kenyon College in Gambier, Ohio. In 2000, he completed a certificate program for senior executives in state and local government at Harvard University's Kennedy School of Government. Formerly an insurance executive, he served as vice president of Hilb, Rogal and Hamilton Co., and as vice president of the Frankel Co., a regional insurance brokerage firm.
Dan and his wife Debra have three children.