Meet Anna Kaplan
Anna Kaplan was born Anna Monahemi in Tabriz, Iran. She and her family were part of Iran’s ancient Jewish people who trace their lineage back to the Babylonian Exile described in the Old Testament. When the Islamic Revolution swept the country, Anna’s parents made the heart-wrenching decision to send her alone to America when she was just 13 years old.
Anna arrived in Brooklyn as part of an international effort to rescue Iran’s Jewish children. She was eventually sent to Chicago, where she lived with a foster family, learned English, and completed high school.
After two years, Anna’s family was allowed lawful entry into the United States, and Anna was granted political asylum by the United States government. She and her family moved to Queens, New York, where she went on to graduate from Stern College for Women at Yeshiva University and then the Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law.
Anna and her family eventually moved to Great Neck, New York where she met and married Darren Kaplan, an attorney, in 1995. They had two daughters, Sarah and Taylor, both of whom attended the Great Neck public schools.
Involving herself in the PTA and her synagogue, Anna earned a reputation as a dedicated volunteer and community advocate. She was elected to serve as a member of the Great Neck Library Board and was appointed to the Town of North Hempstead Board of Zoning Appeals. In 2011, she was elected Councilwoman for the Town of North Hempstead, the fifth largest town in the United States, where she oversaw the renovation of numerous Town parks and subsidized housing in her district and increased funding for afterschool programs. Notably, after same-sex marriage was legally recognized in New York, the Town Clerk refused to perform marriages that were not between a man and a woman. Anna stepped in and began performing some of the first same-sex marriages in New York, beginning her long public history as a trusted ally of and advocate for the LGBTQIA+ community.
In 2018, Anna made history as the first former refugee — and first Iranian-American — to be elected to the New York State Senate.
As State Senator, Anna proved that she isn’t just a woman who makes history, she’s a leader who makes a difference. She delivered on her promises to protect women’s reproductive rights, lower our taxes, pass common-sense gun safety laws, and brought back tens of millions of additional funding for our schools, community programs and local law enforcement. As Chairperson of the Committee on Commerce, Economic Development and Small Business Anna was a champion for New York’s business community during the darkest days of COVID-19 and secured $800 million to create New York’s Pandemic Small Business Recovery Grant Program.
Drawing on her own personal experience, Anna has also been a fierce advocate for New York’s religious and racial minorities, leading the fight against hate crimes in New York with legislation carefully drafted to fight ignorance and hate with education and acceptance. She sponsored and passed the Holocaust education law that ensures all students in New York are learning the history of the Holocaust in school and another law requiring that art looted during the Holocaust be identified when displayed in museums. She also sponsored legislation requiring that courses on AAPI history be taught in all New York schools to combat anti-Asian hate.