Chelsa Wagner, Esq.
Chelsa Wagner is an attorney and former business analyst, currently serving as the Allegheny County Controller, the first female ever elected to that post. She previously served as a member of the Pennsylvania General Assembly, where her 2006 election marked the first time a female from the City of Pittsburgh was elected to serve full term in that body, where she was also the youngest female member of the legislature.
Chelsa’s fourteen-year tenure in elected leadership has been marked by her public advocacy work, and achievements in government reform and transparency. She has centered the advancement of women, people of color and underrepresented individuals throughout her work and policy priorities. She has proven herself a formidable political campaigner, with an undefeated record in multiple highly competitive races, a distinguished record in Pennsylvania politics.
Among some of her most notable public advocacy accomplishments are her work to bring to justice a real estate con artist whose criminal conspiracy had devastated the business district of Beechview (her childhood neighborhood), work to save Pittsburgh libraries from closure, efforts to help resurrect the Pittsburgh Marathon, efforts to uncover and establish a plan to eradicate lead from Pittsburgh’s drinking water, ongoing efforts to achieve reform within the County’s jail, and her efforts to demand full patient access to our major healthcare facilities, for which she received the Policy Maker of the Year Award from the Pennsylvania Health Access Network, and for which she will also be featured in a major national documentary, “InHospitable” to be released in 2021.
Chelsa resides in the North Point Breeze neighborhood of the City of Pittsburgh with her husband, Khari Mosley, a political and communications specialist, and their children Thaddeus (age 11) and Isaiah (age 9).
The University of Pittsburgh School of Law, Juris Doctorate (2005)
Certificate in Civil Litigation
Community Service Award Recipient (for work with Court Appointed Special Advocates – CASA) Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office Clinical Practicum & Internship (2004)
Summer clerkships at U.S. District Court Western District of PA (2003); labor & employment practice (2004)
The University of Chicago, Bachelor of Arts Public Policy Studies (1999)
Academic-Athletic partial scholarship recipient Women’s Basketball Team Member
Kappa Alpha Theta, Philanthropies Chair (supporting CASA, Court Appointed Special Advocates) Barcelona study abroad program participant
Summer Research Associate, Allegheny Conference on Community Development (1997 & 1998)
Elected & Political Experience
Allegheny County Controller (2012 – Present)
As Allegheny County Controller, Wagner centered work on social justice and jail reforms. She initiated the inquiry into the County’s then private health care provider, uncovering gross violations of inmate health, ultimately leading to the termination of privatized jail health care in Allegheny County, and leading to the unionization of jail health care workers. Her advocacy was also instrumental in accomplishing the jail reforms to move non-violent pregnant female offenders out of jail custody and also establishing a separate pod within the jail for juveniles.
Most recently, she and her office spearheaded efforts, winning an award and inclusion in a national effort and cohort membership for efforts to reform fines and fees for prior infractions. She has been one of the few elected leaders who has immediately and consistently called for justice in local instances of police misconduct, among other efforts to bring greater justice and transparency to our local system of justice. Building on her work in the legislature to enact Pennsylvania’s freedom of information act, as Controller, her office continues to lead efforts to timely and fully provide for public record requests to the press and individual requestors.
Independently elected (2011, 2015, 2019) to represent population of 1.2 million residents and provide independent fiscal oversight of the county’s $1 billion plus annual budget
Achieved county fiscal stabilization and credit rating upgrades from record low fund balance
Manage internal Controller’s office annual budget of $7 million and 100 employees
Achieved record internal modernization through technology management and process streamlining
Implemented PA’s first government paid family leave program and living wages for all employees
Spearheads a multitude of policy efforts, including government transparency, jail reform, environmental justice, and accountability measures for Pennsylvania’s largest tax-exempt healthcare monopolies
Pennsylvania State Representative (2006- 2012)
As a member of the State Legislature and Judiciary committee, Wagner was at the forefront of efforts on sentencing reform, being one of the few members opposing all mandatory minimums, with the only exception being attempts on violent crimes against police officers. She also fought ardently for responsible gun ownership reforms prior to the more universal movement for such measures. Her legislative efforts included work with advocates and the PA Supreme Court to secure additional funding for domestic violence and child abuse programs, building on her background as a volunteer court-appointed special advocate. Wagner was also the lead sponsor on legislation to enact universal sex education programming for public schools, and an original co-sponsor on Pennsylvania’s first government records transparency bill, which provided for Pennsylvania to finally provide records in freedom of information (PA right-to-know) requests.
Elected (2006; reelected 2008 & 2010) to represent 66,000 residents of the 22nd legislative district
Served on Judiciary, Transportation, Education and Urban Affairs Committees
Elected Vice Chair of Allegheny County Democratic Caucus
Authored and sponsored over 200 pieces of legislation, including PA’s first freedom of information act
Managed staff of ten employees and constituent services
Secured funding and led neighborhood initiatives including community organization capacity building, eradication of slum landlords and creation of transit-oriented development districts
Law Practice & Business Experience
Of Counsel General Practice Attorney, Leech Tishman, Fuscaldo & Lampl, Pittsburgh, PA (2011 – 2014) Assisted in the representation of clients in a variety of practice areas, including employment, litigation, immigration and corporate law.
Associate Litigation Attorney, Rosen, Louik & Perry, Pittsburgh, PA (2006 – 2008)
Represented clients in plaintiff’s personal injury and medical malpractice. Managed discovery work, including drafting of pleadings and motions, selection of experts and preparation of clients and witnesses.
Associate Litigation Attorney, The Homyak Law Firm, Pittsburgh, PA (2005 – 2006)
Represented clients in plaintiff’s personal injury matters. Drafted pleadings and motions, prepared witnesses for litigation. Maintained communications with clients and opposing counsel.
Clerk (Student), Campbell, Durrant & Beatty, P.C., Pittsburgh, PA (2004)
Assisted in labor, employment and municipal law matters.
Clerk (Student) United States District Court, Western Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, PA (2003)
Chambers of The Honorable David Steward Cercone
Drafted opinions and conducted legal research for matters before the court.
Senior Business Analyst, American Management Systems, Fairfax, VA (1999 – 2002)
Consultant to Virginia Department of Taxation; New York City Human Resources Administration and Ohio Department of Job and Family Services; Promoted to Senior Business Analyst/Team Lead in 2000.
Boards & Community Service
Women for The Future of Pittsburgh, Founder & Political Action Committee Chair (2017 - 2020) Pittsburgh Business Group on Health, Board Member (2018 – 2021)
Pittsburgh Alliance for Police Accountability, Board Member & Treasurer (2016 - 2020)
Allegheny County Bar Association, Women’s Pathway to the Bench Committee Member (2014 - 2017) Pittsburgh Marathon Board of Directors (2008 - 2019); Founding Board member
Pittsburgh Public Schools Colfax Annual Fundraiser Chair (2016/17 & 2017/18) Shady Lane Pre-K School (2015 - 2018)
Allegheny County Jail Advisory Board Secretary (2012 – present) Allegheny County Pension Trustee and Board Secretary (2012 -present)
A+ Schools: Pittsburgh Community Alliance for Public Education Board Member & Treasurer (2008-2017) University of Pittsburgh Institute of Politics Trustee (2007-2016); Education Committee Co-Chair (2008-2011) Pittsburgh Women’s Walk for Peace (Chair, 2011)
Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh Sustainable Funding Taskforce Member (2010-2011) Pennsylvania Young Democrats; Vice President (2007-2009)
Pennsylvania League of Young Voters Board of Directors (2007-2009) Allegheny County Democratic Committee Member (2002-2006)
Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Volunteer, in Virginia, Ohio and Allegheny County (1999-2006) University of Chicago Alumni Schools Committee Volunteer (1999-2005)
Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business, Executive Education, Women’s Leadership and Negotiation Academy Certificate Program (2016/2017)
Governing Magazine Women In Government (2017) Compio Executive Leadership Coaching (2017 – 2019)
University of Virginia Darden School of Business: SLLF Emerging Political Leaders Program (2008) CPA Continuing Education Certificate Credits (for management of audit staff) (2016-present)
Professional Honors & Awards
Pennsylvania Health Action Network, Policy Maker of the Year Awardee (2019)
University of Pittsburgh School of Law Women’s Association Marjorie Matson Award (2019) Governing Magazine Women In Government Leadership (2017)* see also coursework
Selected for third cohort of 25 elected officials from over 100,000 women holding office nationally Navigator Award Nominee (Route Fifty Magazine, award for IT and Data Innovation) (2016) Pennsylvania Women’s Hall of Achievement: Woman of the Year in Government (2009)
Pennsylvania Federation of Democratic Women Outstanding Elected Democratic Woman Awardee (2008) State Legislative Leaders Foundation (SLLF) Emerging Leaders Honoree (2008) *see also coursework
Selected to represent Pennsylvania for annual cohort of 50 legislators
American Council of Young Political Leaders Delegate to China (2007); Delegation host (ongoing) To date host to delegations from Australia, Romania, Croatia, Vietnam & New Zealand
Pittsburgh Magazine 40 Under 40 Honoree (2007)
Pitt Law School Community Service Award (Awarded for work with CASA, 2005)
American Management Systems Emerging Leaders Awardee (2000)