About Pat


About Pat

Senator Patricia Jehlen was elected to the Massachusetts Senate in 2005. She represents Medford, Somerville, and parts of Winchester and Cambridge. Senator Jehlen serves as Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Elder Affairs, and as Vice Chair of the Joint Committee on Marijuana Policy. Senator Jehlen also serves on the Joint Committees on Ways and Means, Revenue, and Community Development and Small Businesses, as well as the Senate Committee on Ways and Means.
Pat, a former history teacher and VISTA volunteer, graduated from Swarthmore College, received a Master’s degree in teaching from Harvard University, and completed Master’s course work in history at UMass Boston. From 1976 to 1991, she served on the Somerville School Committee, and served as chair in 1980 and 1988. She was among the founders of the CHOICE program, a public school alternative elementary program, which has continued and expanded for almost 30 years. She helped found the Council for Fair School Finance, which brought the successful lawsuit that led to Massachusetts' education reform of 1993 and brought hundreds of millions of dollars in new state aid to communities.

Pat’s Career in the Legislature

Pat served from 1991 to 2005 in the Massachusetts House of Representatives where she served as Co-Chair of the Women's Caucus, Co-Chair of the Progressive Legislator's Group (PLG), Co-Chair of the Elder Caucus, and Vice-Chair of the Committee on Elder Affairs. Among her successful legislation were bills to increase literacy for blind people, ensure the rights of people living with mental illness, and provide compensation for the wrongfully convicted. She helped lead the fight to increase the minimum wage, to target tax cuts towards working families by increasing the earned income tax credit and child care credit, and to increase the senior circuit breaker.

Pat has filed several bills in the Senate that have been signed into law, namely her ground-breaking equal pay bill in 2016 and the recreational marijuana law in 2017. In 2018, several of her criminal justice reform legislation bills - including medical parole, an update to the wrongful conviction compensation law, and limiting student arrests - were included in the omnibus criminal justice reform law. Among other successful bills she sponsored are ones to update child labor and animal control laws, and to prevent fires by regulating floor finishing.


Pat’s Current Priorities

Among her current priorities are full funding of an updated Foundation Budget, and providing adequate funding for all schools regardless of property wealth. She is working to change the accountability system so that schools are not judged primarily on test scores, and to find remedies for low-scoring schools that are based on students' needs. In 2016, she joined thousands of MTA members, school committee leaders, and parents in helping defeat Question 2, which would have greatly expanded the number of charter schools.

She continues to fight for universal and affordable health care, and jobs with decent wages and benefits. In the area of elder services, she is focused on making sure that seniors of all income levels can find housing and services that meet their needs, whether in the community or in institutions.

Senator Jehlen lives in Somerville with her husband, Alain. She has three children and two grandchildren. Her favorite extracurricular activity is teaching stilting and tumbling-for-two with the OPENAIR Circus, which she helped start over 30 years ago.


  • Legislator of the Year Home Care Star Award from the Home Care Alliance of Massachusetts
  • Greyhound Leadership Award, G2K USA Worldwide
  • Legislator of the Year, Mass. Developmental Disabilities Council and the Arc of Massachusetts
  • Advocate for Public Education Award, Citizens for Public Schools
  • Legislator of the Year, National Organization for Women, MA Chapter
  • Senator of the Year, Silver-Haired Legislature
  • Legislator of the Year, Friends of the Middlesex Fells
  • Legislator of the Year, National Association of Elder Law Attorneys
  • Beacon of Justice Award, Equal Justice Coalition
  • IMPACT Award, Animal Control Officers Association of MA
  • Distinguished Public Service Award for service to elderly, Harvard U Extension Student Association
  • Ben Gill award for activism for Single-Payer Health Care, Mass Care
  • Award for "tireless work on behalf of indigent MA prisoners," Mass. Correctional Legal Services
  • Award for “compassionate leadership on behalf of children, adults and families living with mental illness," Mass. Department of Mental Health
  • Award for work on child labor reform, Teens Lead @ Work, Mass. Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health
  • The Peggy Munroe Home Care Advocacy Award, Mass. Council of Home Care Aide Services
  • The John Philip Sousa Award, Somerville Cambridge Elder Services for “outstanding advocacy efforts on behalf of Cambridge and Somerville Elders”

2018 Endorsements

  • Boston Teachers Union

  • Mass NOW

  • NARAL Pro-Choice MA

  • National Association of Social Workers-MA PACE

  • Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund

  • Sierra Club


  • 2016 Endorsements

  • Cambridge Ward 11 Democratic Committee
  • Medford Democratic City Committee
  • Somerville Wards 1-7 Democratic Committees 
  • Winchester Democratic Town Committee
  • Medford4MA
  • MassEquality
  • Environmental League Action Fund
  • Sierra Club
  • Mass Alliance
  • Mass Peace Action
  • Mass Women’s Political Caucus
  • National Association of Social Workers-MA PACE
  • NARAL Pro-Choice MA
  • Planned Parenthood Advocacy Fund
  • Mass Teachers Association
  • American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts
  • Boston Teachers Union
  • Professional Fire Fighters of MA
  • Medford Firefighters
  • Somerville Firefighters
  • Somerville Municipal Employees Association
  • Bricklayers Local 3
  • International Association of Heat & Frost Insulators
  • IBEW Local 2222
  • SEIU State Council
  • SEIU Local 32BJ
  • SEIU Local 888
  • 1199SEIU
  • Mass. State United Auto Workers
  • UNITE HERE New England Joint Board
  • Teamsters Local 122