Cheryl Kagan | Maryland State Senator - District 17
About Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan


In her first year as a Senator, Kagan had a number of important successes.  All 6 of her bills passed the Senate in 2015, and 5 were approved by the House.  Her Organ Donation Act will help to save lives by reducing waiting times for transplants by increasing the number of those registered as donors.  Her “Fertility Parity” bill is the first of its kind in the nation and provides In Vitro Fertilization (IVF) coverage for married lesbian couples.  She won funding for important local projects and was seen as an outspoken advocate for both the nonprofit sector and municipalities.  

During her second year in the Senate, Senator Kagan was the primary sponsor of 11 pieces of legislation. Her successes included passing “Language Access” to ensure that all State agency websites are multilingual; clarifying the voter registration process with her “Informed Voter” bill; and closing a loophole in fertility treatment coverage for married couples.  She also sponsored legislation to address issues including driving under the influence of drugs and updating our 9-1-1 emergency systems.  While not passed during the 2016 session, Senator Kagan continues to work on these bills, and is optimistic of their success in the near future.

The day after the 2016 general election, Senator Kagan first envisioned her ‘UnNaugural Concert,’ a sold-out event on Inauguration Day 2017 that featured five artists collecting donations for five progressive advocacy organizations. Kagan produced the concert, which raised the spirits of progressives who attended from all across the country– and raised a total of over $60,000 for the ACLU, Planned Parenthood, the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence, League of Conservation Voters, and the National Gay & Lesbian Task Force.

In Kagan’s third legislative session, she put forward 21 bills. On behalf of the nonprofit community, Senator Kagan created the Nonprofit, Interest-Free, Micro Bridge Loan (NIMBL) fund to provide short-term loans of to $25,000 to groups that have already earned government grants or contracts but haven’t yet received the promised funds. She also simplified references to these organizations in State lawbooks. Kagan brought back her 9-1-1 emergency legislation, which passed the Senate but never received a House vote. The Senate Finance Committee is studying Next Generation 9-1-1 technology over the interim. Other successful legislation included efforts to give cities a proven tool to combat fraud; ensure County contractors’ compliance with disclosure of political contributions; and expedite the process of restoring one’s former name within 18 months of a divorce. Kagan was also successful at securing a promise from the State Board of Elections to make their meetings more accessible to the public by making audio recordings available online. She also sponsored electoral reforms, three consumer protection initiatives, and a ban on polystyrene (Styrofoam) food service products. 

In 2016, Senator Kagan was appointed to serve as the Senator on The Maryland Public-Private Partnership (P3) Marketing Corporation Board, which works to attract businesses, establish a branding strategy for the State, increase jobs, and expand the State’s economy.  She was also appointed to the Commission on the Commemoration of the 100th Anniversary of the Passage of the 19th Amendment to the United States Constitution.  Kagan is a trustee at Hospice Caring, Inc., and a member of the One Maryland Blue Ribbon Commission on Procurement; the Joint Subcommittee on Program Open Space & Agricultural Land Preservation; and Women Legislators of Maryland.

Senator Kagan’s background includes work in all sectors — public, private, and nonprofit. Her work has ranged from lobbying for gun control in Congress to protecting women’s reproductive choices and working to elect progressive candidates at the federal, state, and local levels.

A Montgomery County native and product of our public schools, Cheryl graduated from Vassar College with a degree in political science. She returned home to make a difference in our community and later did graduate work in public policy at the University of Maryland. She worked to protect our civil liberties, elect progressive, pro-choice Democrats, and enact the Brady Bill and the Assault Weapons Ban.

A lifelong Democrat, Cheryl served 8 years as an elected member of the Maryland House of Delegates representing mid-Montgomery County’s District 17.  During her time in Annapolis, Cheryl earned a reputation as an independent-minded legislator and a strong voice for her constituents in Rockville, Gaithersburg, and Garrett Park on issues like fairness, public safety, fiscal priorities, and transportation.

After choosing not to seek reelection, Cheryl stayed involved in the community as the first-ever Executive Director of the Carl M. Freeman Foundation.  Under her guidance, the Foundation contributed over $1,000,000 each year to deserving nonprofit organizations primarily in the DC metro area. In addition to grant-making, the Foundation created capacity-building programs and a leadership institute in partnership Montgomery College. These provided support for worthy nonprofit organizations working on behalf of the underprivileged, the environment, education, the elderly, and the arts.

In recent years, Cheryl has been engaged at both the national and local levels.  As Executive Director of Americans for Democratic Action Education Fund, she convened expert panels on pressing policy issues on Capitol Hill. In partnership with the Community Foundation for Montgomery County, she launched the Fund for Montgomery, raising private funding to continue important events like the World of Montgomery Festival and Community Service Day.  Until recently, Cheryl served as Director of Community Engagement for BBYO (a 90-year old Jewish teen leadership, volunteerism, and philanthropy organization), where she was responsible for community outreach, partnerships, fundraising, and media throughout the Mid-Atlantic.

Senator Kagan has always been active in volunteer community activities. She served as a Democratic media spokesperson; taught State and Local Government at the college level; and serves on numerous boards.

Cheryl established and continues to host a nationally-known house concert series (Folk ‘N Great Music) for touring singer/songwriters. Hers is the first unionized house concert series in the country. She has volunteered her time for groups that include the American Jewish Committee and Leadership Montgomery (a proud member of the Class of 2002!). In addition, Cheryl has served on the Maryland State Arts Council, the Charter Review Commission, and the Arts & Humanities Council of Montgomery County.

Recognized three times as one of Maryland’s “Top 100 Women,” Cheryl was also selected by Montgomery County’s Business and Professional Women as a “Woman of Achievement” and as both a Blaustein and Comay Fellow by the American Jewish Committee. The Greater Washington Board of Trade twice recognized her for leadership on behalf of the Intercounty Connector, and The Baltimore Sun named her as one of their “Rising Stars.” For her work on environmental issues, she has a perfect 100 lifetime score from the Maryland League of Conservation Voters. In all three years of her service in the Senate, Kagan has been honored as a “Superstar” by the Maryland Municipal League (MML) for her leadership on behalf of Rockville, Gaithersburg, and the other cities and towns around Maryland.

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