A successful businessman, Papenfuse was elected on a platform of uniting the residents of Harrisburg to work toward the common goal of building a better community through attracting business and investment, improving education and restoring pride and prosperity to the state capital. With the motto “Together, We Can,” Papenfuse inspired thousands of people to place their confidence in him to lead Harrisburg out of a period of economic and political malaise.
Born in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1971 to an elementary-school reading teacher and a state-government archivist, Papenfuse attended Yale University for college and graduate school. He studied American history and government and was the only member of his undergraduate class to earn both Bachelor and Master of Arts degrees in four years, summa cum laude. A published author and prize-winning scholar, his teaching and research explore the moral dilemmas of slavery and the fractious national political environment in the years after the American Revolution.
A former public school teacher, Papenfuse taught Latin at Central Dauphin East and Linglestown Junior High Schools, where he served as chair of the Foreign Language department.
Papenfuse lives in Harrisburg with his wife Cathy and their three children He settled in Harrisburg in 1999 after his wife accepted a post as Assistant Professor of History at Messiah College. It was not long after their move to Harrisburg that the couple went into the book business, a decision that has enriched the entire region and led to his eventual election as the city’s mayor.