State Senator
Rockville & Gaithersburg

Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan (D–17) has served in the Maryland Senate since 2015, where her energy, dedication, and experience in all sectors– public, private, and nonprofit– have made her an effective advocate for the residents of Gaithersburg and Rockville. In 2019, she was appointed Vice Chair of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee.


Senator Kagan represented District 17 in the House of Delegates for two terms– from 1995 to 2003. After choosing not to seek reelection, she stayed involved in the community as the first-ever Executive Director of the Carl M. Freeman Foundation. With her guidance, the Foundation contributed over $1,000,000 each year to deserving nonprofits, primarily in the DC-metropolitan area. In addition to grantmaking, the Foundation created capacity-building programs and a leadership institute in partnership with Montgomery College.

Kagan later served as the Director of Community Engagement for BBYO, an international nonprofit promoting Jewish teen leadership and volunteerism. There, she was responsible for community outreach, partnerships, fundraising, and media throughout the Mid-Atlantic.

Sen. Kagan is a Montgomery County native and graduate of our public schools. After receiving a political science degree from Vassar College, she took graduate classes in public policy at the University of Maryland. She later taught two semesters of State & Local Government at Montgomery College.

Next Generation 9-1-1 Commission

Kagan is a nationally recognized expert on “Next Generation 9-1-1,” which will update our emergency response centers with modern technology resulting in increased reliability. Inspired by the death of Rockville activist and District 17 resident Carl Henn due to a 9-1-1 failure, she chaired the Maryland NG911 Commission, which concluded its 4th and final year of work in 2022. Priorities  included reclassifying 9-1-1 Specialists as “First Responders;” establishing a Statewide 3-1-1 service and authorizing workers’ compensation for 9-1-1 Specialists.

The Senator earned Next Generation 9-1-1 Institute’s 2018 National Leader Award as well as the Maryland State Firemen’s Association’s (soon to be renamed FireFIGHTER’s??!) 2019 and 2020 Senator William H. Amoss Memorial Legislative Award for her commitment to public safety. In 2022, Sen. Kagan was nominated and selected to serve as the elected official on the NG9-1-1 Interoperability Oversight Commission (NIOC). She recognizes the critical importance of this service to people in need: “When 9-1-1 fails,” she often tells audiences, “people die.”

Green Champion

Senator Kagan enacted the nation’s first statewide ban on harmful expanded polystyrene (“Styrofoam”) food and beverage containers.  Her concern for the environment and sustainability led the Maryland League of Conservation Voters to name her a “Green Champion” and presented her with the 2019 Legislator of the Year Award (along with Del. Brooke Lierman).  In the 2022 session, Kagan was the lead Senate sponsor on the now-enacted SB372 (working with Del. Vaughn Stewart), which bans the sale and use of toxic coal tar sealants. In 2022, Senator Kagan was endorsed by the Sierra Club.

Nonprofit Leader

With a long career in this vital sector, Kagan is also lauded as a key ally for her leadership on behalf of nonprofits. These essential organizations enhance our communities while employing roughly 10% of the State’s workforce. She is proud to have sponsored a law that established the Nonprofit, Interest-Free, Micro Bridge Loan (NIMBL) fund, which provides loans to organizations that have earned (but not yet received) government grants or contracts. In 2017, she was presented with the prestigious Phyllis Campbell Newsome Public Policy Award by the Center for Nonprofit Advancement. She was recognized (along with Del. Pena-Melnyk) as the first-ever Legislative Champion by Maryland Nonprofits. In 2020, the Senator sponsored a bill to streamline all State grant applications for nonprofit organizations into what will be called a “Common App,” saving organizations time. In 2020, Sen. Kagan established the National Nonprofit Legislative Caucus with the help of the National Council of Nonprofits and the National Conference of State Legislatures, enabling legislators from across the country to swap policy ideas. She sponsored three bills that passed the Senate unanimously in 2022; she will continue to pursue these initiatives in 2023.

Outside of the Senate

In her “free” time, Sen. Kagan has hosted Folk ‘N Great Music house concerts with national touring singer/songwriters since 2003. After Donald Trump’s election, she established and produced four annual UnNaugural Concerts featuring five different performers and raising money for five unique progressive causes each year– focusing on issues most affected by the Trump Administration.

As a nationally ranked Scrabble player, Kagan was responsible for luring the North American Scrabble Championship to Baltimore in 2022. Competitors from forty-two states and nine countries enjoyed their time in “Charm City.” Additionally, she wrote a chapter on Scrabble as a metaphor for life, which is included in “33 Gems: Wisdom for Living Pieces of Life’s Puzzle.” In addition to being a word nerd, she is a master of Demo-CRAFT-ing puns–so much so that she participates in pun contests.

In September 2020, Kagan launched a podcast on her YouTube Channel called “Kibbitzing with Kagan,” where she interviews individuals she finds fascinating. You can subscribe to the podcast on YouTube or Apple Music.

  • Kagan’s Key Successes in the State Senate Include…

    • Animal Welfare – Outlawing Declawing Cats (SB0067 – 2022);
    • Election Law – Contested Elections (SB0101 – 2022);
    • Election Law – Voting Systems Costs and Polling Places (SB0158 – 2022);
    • Election Law – Ballots – Processing and Reporting Procedures (SB0163 – 2022), Vetoed by the Governor;
    • Maryland State Agency Transparency Act of 2022  (SB0269 – 2022;
    • Safer Sealant Act of 2022 (SB0372 – 2022);
    • Notice of Entry Onto Private Property (SB0373 – 2022);
    • Public Safety – 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System Alterations (SB0633 – 2022);
    • Providing Telehealth to School-Based Health Centers (SB278 – 2021);
    • Establishing a Recycling Market in MD (SB116 – 2021);
    • Updating the Public Information Act (SB449 – 2021);
    • Shifting the Maryland Emergency Management Agency (SB658 – 2021);
    • Repealing the State Song (SB8 – 2021);
    • Enhancing Public Safety – 9-1-1 Emergency Telephone System (SB838 – 2020);
    • Establishing Telehealth (SB402 – 2020);
    • Providing Postage-Paid Absentee Ballots (SB145 – 2020);
    • Increasing Transparency for Key Government Entities (SB363 – 2020);
    • Creating “Common Applications” for Nonprofits (SB630 – 2020);
    • Transitioning to  Maryland to Next Generation 9-1-1 (Carl Henn’s Law)  (SB339 – 2019);
    • Banning Expanded Polystyrene (“Styrofoam”) statewide (SB285 – 2019);
    • Enacting “Freedom to Serve” to expand and diversify our police forces (SB853 – 2019)
    • Creating Maryland high-tech jobs with Maryland taxpayer money (SB340 – 2019);
    • Increasing transparency at the State Board of Elections (SB184 – 2019):
    • Establishing a floor of 10% overhead costs in State contracts with nonprofits (SB1045 – 2018);
    • Allowing counties to offer certain tax deductions to 9-1-1 Specialists (SB1053 – 2018);
    • Ensuring data privacy under the Maryland Public Information Act (SB477 – 2018);
    • Creating the Nonprofit, Interest-Free, Micro Bridge Loan (NIMBL) fund (SB465 – 2017);
    • Requiring “Language Access” to translate government websites (SB29 – 2018) (SB28 – 2016);
    • Informing new voters that if they do not register with a political party, they can’t vote in partisan primary elections (SB170 – 2016);
    • Expanded outreach to  promote organ donation Motor Vehicle Administration, the Courts, and other State agencies (SB415 – 2015);
    • Expanding the False Claims Act, a proven tool to combat fraud, to include municipalities (SB26 – 2017); and
    • Mandating “Fertility Parity” related to in vitro fertilization for married lesbian couples (SB416 – 2015) and infertile men in heterosexual couples (SB1 – 2016).
  • Awards and Accomplishments

    Kagan has been widely recognized for her achievements. Representing two of the four largest cities in Maryland, she focuses on making our municipalities more vibrant, sustainable, and economically healthy. For her advocacy, the Maryland Municipal League named her a “Municipal Super Star” for a 5th year in 2020.  She was honored to receive the “2019 Legislator of the Year Award” by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters with Del. Brooke Lierman making Maryland the first State to ban harmful expanded polystyrene (“Styrofoam”) food products. After the 2019 legislative session, she was named a “Winner” by Maryland Matters in its “Winners and Losers” list for her “slew of legislative victories.” She was recognized three times as one of Maryland’s “Top 100 Women” and inducted into The Daily Record’s “Circle of Excellence.”  In 2018, the Maryland Association of Counties recognized Sen. Kagan for her unwavering dedication to 9-1-1 policy as well as local government priorities. In 2020, Senator Kagan was was honored as “Peacemaker of the Year” by The Conflict Resolution Center of Montgomery County.

    Senator Cheryl Kagan has served on the board of the American Jewish Committee for over 20 years. In 2021, the organization honored her with the Hyman “Bookie” Bookbinder Award for her advocacy, coalition-building, and community leadership. Additionally, she was appointed to the National Association of Jewish Legislators board.

Abbreviated Biography

Sen. Cheryl C. Kagan (D-District 17) represents Rockville and Gaithersburg and serves as the Vice Chair of the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee. Sen. Kagan has earned a reputation as an independent-minded legislator with a strong voice for her constituents on public safety, consumer protection, transportation, government transparency, and more. While in the Senate, Kagan has passed landmark laws to help nonprofits; enhance our 9-1-1 emergency response systems; become the first State in the nation to ban “Styrofoam” food and beverage containers; and advocate for local governments. In addition to serving as Chair of Maryland’s Next Generation 9-1-1 Commission, Kagan established the National Nonprofit Legislative Caucus.

Senator Kagan was named a “Municipal Super Star” for the 5th time in 2020, citing her effective leadership on behalf of Maryland’s 157 cities and towns. She was grateful to receive the “2019 Legislator of the Year Award” by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters with Delegate Brooke Lierman for their work banning Styrofoam products from our food services. She was honored by the Maryland State Firemen’s Association with the 2019 and 2020 Senator William H. Amoss Memorial Legislative Award and the Next Generation 911 Institute’s National Leader of the Year in 2018. She was named a “Winner” by Maryland Matters for her “slew of legislative victories” during the 2019 session. She was recognized (along with Del. Pena-Melnyk) as the first-ever Legislative Champion by Maryland Nonprofits for her leadership on behalf of this vital sector. Sen. Kagan was selected three times as one of Maryland’s “Top 100 Women” and was inducted into The Daily Record’s “Circle of Excellence.” She has been named a “Green Champion” by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters. Most recently, the American Jewish Committee honored her with the Hyman “Bookie” Bookbinder Award for her advocacy, coalition-building, and community leadership.

In her “free” time, Sen. Kagan hosts Folk ‘N Great Music house concerts featuring national touring singer/songwriters and is a nationally ranked Scrabble player. She is also the Founder and Executive Producer of the UnNaugural Concerts featuring five performers and raising money for five unique progressive causes each year– focusing on issues most affected by the Trump Administration.

Last Updated November 2022