Debra was elected State Representative for the 6th District in 2010. Debra serves as chair of the House Natural Resources Committee and chair of the House Health and Human Development Committee. Debra also serves on the Energy and Education Committees as well as the Joint Finance and Appropriations Committees. As State Representative, Debra has championed efforts to improve quality of life for people with special needs by sponsoring and passing the People First Act and the Employment First Act. Debra also led the efforts in Delaware to ensure continuation of the Brownfields Remediation Act to clean up contaminated and underutilized properties. Debra has also continued to focus her efforts on improving Education in Delaware by sponsoring and passing legislation to hire teachers earlier and expand early childhood education.
Before being elected to the Delaware House of Representatives, Debra Heffernan served for over five years on the Brandywine School Board, including two years as board president. During her time on the board, the district reduced administrative costs while boosting the high school graduation rate and including greater numbers of students with special needs into regular education classrooms.
Debra was a founding member of the Brandywine Special Needs PTA, the first group of its kind in Delaware, and has been PTA co-president at the Bush Early Education Center. In 2010, she was honored by Parenting magazine as Delaware’s Outstanding Mom Advocate for Education and represented the state at the inaugural Mom Congress in Washington, D.C.
Debra is an environmental toxicologist with more than 25 years of experience, having worked in private industry and as a consultant for the Department of Natural Resources and Environmental Control. She serves on the state’s Hazardous Substance Advisory Committee, formerly the Brownfields Advisory Committee. Debra’s work on this committee involves oversight of all environmental cleanup projects in Delaware to protect Delawareans from pollutants while making the state greener and more economically viable. She earned her bachelor’s degree in biology from the University of Delaware and a master of science degree in environmental toxicology from Duke University.
Debra lives in Edgewood Hills with her husband, Pat, and their three children.