Township Commissioner Lori Schreiber (left) and Commissioner Lisa Romaniello at a recent Women in Politics event panel.

by Len Lear

“As an Abington Township resident who cares about the welfare of animals and as president of Humane PA, Pennsylvania’s political voice for animals, I am grateful for the compassionate work of Commissioner Lori Schreiber and support her re-election. The Roslyn Pet Fair, organized by Lori every year, not only gives area rescue groups the chance to find homes for animals in need, but is a fun-filled, informative family event.”

This comment was uttered recently by Elissa B. Katz, President of Humane PA, about Lori Schreiber, 60, who was born in Germantown and later lived in Germantown again after graduate school for five years. Schreiber, currently a Township Commissioner in Montgomery County, is now running for Clerk of Courts. If she wins this year, she will become the first openly gay “row officer” in Pennsylvania.

Schreiber, a graduate of Haverford High School, earned a Bachelor’s degree from Kutztown State College (now University) in 1980 and a Master’s Degree from Lehigh University in 1982. Her father, Lee, went back to school in his 50s and earned a Ph.D. from Temple University, later teaching in the history department.

In the 1990s, Schreiber worked with a victim services agency as a counselor, but she had always been politically active, as was her family, but mostly by helping other candidates get elected. Then, in 2005, after working on (now State Attorney General) Josh Shapiro’s first campaign for State Representative, she was approached by Josh and Commissioner Michael O’Connor to run for Township Commissioner against incumbent Republican Dee McGrath.

After winning the race, Schreiber fought for more transparency by televising commissioners’ meetings, started a summer lunch program for low-income kids and helped get a non-discrimination ordinance passed in 2012, among other accomplishments. She once had to have a police escort to her car because of an angry group of anti-gay protesters.

But Schreiber is now running for Clerk of Courts because “it is a county-wide office, so the position is elected by and held accountable to a much larger segment of people … The collection of court-related costs – bail money, fees and fines – go through this office, so if there is not an efficient system in place, people may be incarcerated longer or encounter other negative consequences.”

Schreiber came out publicly as a lesbian in the mid- to late-1980s, at least to family and friends. She came out as a candidate in 2005, when she first ran for office. She became the first openly gay person ever elected to public office in Montgomery County.

Schreiber’s wife, Linda, works for the Cancer Center at Abington, where “she is on the front lines of getting insurance coverage for people from a very frustrating system.” They were married in October of 2014, shortly after it became legal in Pennsylvania.

According to Schreiber, it is now “the best of times and the worst of times for the LGBTQ community. We can be more open and have more benefits (like marriage), but there have been scary backlashes where we also hear more hate rhetoric and more examples of hate crimes. And yes, I believe that the Trump administration has fostered that hate.”

Schreiber comes from a talented family of singers, painters, artists, writers, great cooks, etc., “but somehow those talents missed me, and I always wanted to be a great dancer.”

What was the hardest thing that Schreiber ever had to do? “Deciding to have my father taken off the machines that were keeping him alive.”

And Schreiber’s most endearing quality may just be that she is a very loyal friend. “I have friends from just about every phase of my life, and I am still best friends with a person I met at age 13. Actually, I am still very close with both of my best friends from high school and with my college roommate, etc. We may not talk a lot, but when we do, it is as if we have never been apart.”

If Schreiber could meet and spend time with anyone on earth, who would it be? “Historically, it would be Queen Elizabeth I. And modern day … I was actually just watching a video clip of Bonnie Raitt playing slide guitar this morning, and I think that might be more fun. My answer here might change on a daily basis.”

Schreiber’s family includes her mom, Sylvia, siblings Michael, Lynne and Merril. “Also, my niece, Hannah, lived in our household when I was still a teenager, so she is like my younger sister.”

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