Cheryl Kagan | Maryland State Senator - District 17

Cheryl Kagan 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. She serves on the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee and is the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on Administrative, Executive, and Legislative Review.

A Montgomery County native and graduate of our public schools, Senator Kagan has demonstrated exceptional commitment to the success and well-being of her district. Representing two of the four largest cities in Maryland, she focuses on making our municipalities more vibrant, sustainable, and economically healthy. For her work, the Maryland Municipal League has named her a “Municipal Superstar.”

Moreover, Kagan is a nationally-recognized advocate for “Next Generation 911,” which will bring our emergency response system into line with modern technology and increase reliability. Inspired by the death of Rockville activist and District 17 resident Carl Henn due to a 9-1-1 failure, she has continued to visit call centers around the state, often bringing her Senate colleagues, and passed multiple pieces of legislation on the issue. She chairs the Maryland NG911 Commission, which issued a 65-page report with 23 unanimous recommendations, whose work guided legislation for the 2019 session. The Senator received the national Next Generation 9-1-1 Institute’s 2018 National Leader award for her efforts. She recognizes the critical importance of this service to people in need: “When 911 fails,” she often tells audiences, “people die.”

With a long career in the sector, Kagan is also lauded as an advocate for nonprofits. These vital organizations assist Marylanders in need while employing over 44,000 people in Montgomery County alone. She is proud to have created  the Nonprofit, Interest-Free, Micro Bridge Loan (NIMBL) fund, which provides loans to organizations that have earned, but not yet received, State grants or contracts. In 2017, she was presented with The Phyllis Campbell Newsome Public Policy Award by the Center for Nonprofit Advancement. Earlier this year, she was recognized (along with Del. Joseline Pena-Melnyk) as the first-ever Legislative Champion by Maryland Nonprofits for her leadership on behalf of this vital sector. When the General Assembly is not in session, Kagan works with Community Ministries of Rockville, a nonprofit that provides help to vulnerable Montgomery County residents.

Prior to joining the Senate, Sen. Kagan represented the same district in the Maryland House of Delegates 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. Under her guidance, the Foundation contributed over $1,000,000 each year to deserving nonprofit organizations, primarily in the DC metropolitan area. In addition to grantmaking, the Foundation created capacity-building programs as well as a leadership institute in partnership with Montgomery College.

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

Having studied political science and public policy at Vassar College and University of Maryland, Sen. Kagan has also taught two semesters of State and local government at Montgomery College. That experience informs her work with the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) where she has played every role, including speaker and moderator, at their educational conferences.

In her “free” time, Sen. Kagan hosts Folk ‘N Great Music house concerts with national touring singer/songwriters and is a nationally ranked Scrabble player. Additionally, She wrote a chapter that is included in “33 Gems: Wisdom for Living Pieces of Life’s Puzzle.” 

In 2018, the Maryland Association of Counties recognized Sen. Kagan for her efforts on 9-1-1 and local government priorities. She has been recognized three times as one of Maryland’sTop 100 Women” and was inducted into The Daily Record’s “Circle of Excellence.” Her concern for the environment and sustainability has led the Maryland League of Conservation Voters to name her a “Green Champion.”


Kagan’s Key Successes in the State Senate Include…

  • Banning Expanded Polsytyrene Statewide to make Maryland safer, more environmentally friendly, and even more beautiful (SB285 – 2019); 
  • Allowing Legal Permanent Residents who have been honorably discharged from the military and applied for citizenship the opportunity to become police officers will enhance the linguistic and ethnic diversity of our applicant pools (SB853 – 2019)
  • Saving lives by upgrading Maryland to Next Generation 911 with “Carl Henn’s Law” (SB339 – 2019);
  • Reforming the Maryland Technology Development Corporation to focus on creating Maryland jobs with Maryland taxpayer money (SB340 – 2019);
  • Conforming Maryland’s nonprofit grant and contracting practices to federal standards by guaranteeing at least 10% repayment for indirect (overhead) costs– necessities like rent, staff salaries, and utilities (SB1045 – 2018);
  • Establishing a statewide Next Generation 9-1-1 Commission to help manage the complicated transition to the most up-to-date emergency response technology (SB285 – 2018);
  • Allowing counties to extend the same benefits given to most public safety employees to 9-1-1 calltakers (SB1053 – 2018);
  • Ensuring that when you sign up for government alerts about weather, road repairs, or school closings, your private phone number and email address cannot be released under the Maryland Public Information Act (SB477 – 2018);
  • Creating the Nonprofit, Interest-Free, Micro Bridge Loan (NIMBL) fund to provide short-term loans– up to $25,000– to groups that have already earned government grants or contracts but haven’t yet received the promised funds (SB465 – 2017);
  • Passing “Language Access” to ensure that State government websites are translated into the languages most commonly spoken by our residents (SB28 – 2016) and ensuring that every web page offers translation (SB29 – 2018);
  • Informing new voters that if they do not register with a political party, they will not be able to participate in a party’s primary election (SB170 – 2016);
  • Encouraging the Motor Vehicle Administration, the Courts, and other State agencies to promote organ donation and increase the number of Marylanders on the registry (SB415 – 2015);
  • Expanding the False Claims Act, a proven tool to combat fraud, to include municipalities (SB26 – 2017); and
  • Mandating insurance coverage for in vitro fertilization to ensure that lesbian couples (and heterosexual couples that cannot independently have a baby) have “fertility parity” (SB416 – 2015 & SB1 – 2016).


Abbreviated Biography

Senator Cheryl C. Kagan (D-District 17) represents Rockville and Gaithersburg in the Maryland State Senate. She serves on the Education, Health and Environmental Affairs Committee and is the Senate Chair of the Joint Committee on the Management of Public Funds.

Sen. Kagan has earned a reputation as an independent-minded legislator with a strong voice for her constituents on public safety, consumer protection, transportation, and more. While in the Senate, Kagan has passed a number of bills, including landmark laws to help nonprofits, enhance our 911 emergency response systems, protect our personal information, and expand access to reproductive health services.

She has been recognized by the Next Generation 911 Institute as their National Leader of the Year for 2018. 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 also been named a “Green Champion” by the Maryland League of Conservation Voters and a “Municipal Superstar” by the Maryland Municipal League all four years of her term in the Senate for her effective leadership on behalf of Maryland’s 157 cities and towns.

In her “free” time, Sen. Kagan hosts Folk ‘N Great Music house concerts with national touring singer/songwriters and is a nationally ranked Scrabble player.


Last Updated July 9, 2018

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