Prior to his election to the PA Legislature, Ismail “Izzy” Smith-Wade-El was the President of Lancaster City Council on which he had served since 2017. During his four years on Council, Izzy helped secure the largest investments in affordable housing and lead removal for the City of Lancaster in its history. He championed the decriminalization of cannabis; a completely revamped use-of-force policy for police officers; and increased police accountability in response to community requests.
Izzy was born and raised in Lancaster. After graduating from Carnegie Mellon University, Izzy returned to his hometown and began working in Lancaster's nonprofit sector to deliver relief to vulnerable people, first in behavioral health and drug and alcohol rehabilitation, then as a grant writer and researcher. As a program specialist at Lancaster County Homeless Coalition, he coordinated services and support for Lancaster County's housing insecure community. Most recently, Izzy launched "Refresh Lancaster," a mobile hygiene unit which delivers showers, social services, and medical attention to homeless Lancastrians.
Izzy has fought for grass roots change in his community as the vice chair of the Lancaster County Democratic Party and as a community organizer with striking Kellogg’s workers for fair wages and benefits and PA's educators to demand fair funding for public schools. He's raised his voice to protect abortion access, defend Black Lives, welcome immigrants and refugees, and denounce antisemitism.
Izzy is the first Black and first queer state representative from Lancaster.
His inspiration for his life and work as a public servant is the example of his mother, Rita Smith-Wade-El, who was a professor at Millersville University, a union member, community organizer and single mom. His mom always made a point of helping others, even when she had little for herself. She taught Izzy that when you have something to give, you give it, and if you don’t have it to give, you go get more to give.
Izzy has come to Harrisburg to partner with likeminded legislators to correct the Commonwealth’s laws that favor giant corporations, lobbyists, and a status quo that hurts working families. Those laws prevent the leveling of the playing field for friends and neighbors. He will advocate for legislation that puts power to the shared values of kindness, welcome, dignity, and care.
Izzy draws his values from his family, his Catholic faith, and his community.