Zeke Cohen - District 1
100 Holliday Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21202
Zeke Cohen grew up in Northampton, Massachusetts, the son of a social worker and a psychiatrist. Zeke's belief that "community comes first" was inspired by his mother's stories of marching for Civil Rights and registering voters during the Mississippi Freedom Summer.
At eighteen, Zeke moved to Baltimore to study political science at Goucher College. Active on campus and in the community, Zeke worked to reconnect Goucher with Baltimore City. As Student Government Association President, he created the Social Justice Grant Program, which continues to fund student-led, community-based projects in Baltimore.
After graduating from Goucher College, Zeke joined Teach For America and taught middle school social studies in West Baltimore. During his first spring break as an educator, Zeke brought a group of his eighth-grade students to help rebuild a home in New Orleans. As a teacher, Zeke was awarded the Elizabeth Lawrence Prize for Excellence. He attained a master’s degree in Public Policy from Johns Hopkins University. As a grad-student, Zeke started his nonprofit, The Intersection, to help young people learn community organizing and civic leadership. He ran for office and was elected to the City Council in 2016 with the belief that democracy only works when everyone has a voice in the process.
Soon after entering office, Zeke organized a Bake Sale for Buses campaign that protected Baltimore City students from a reduction in their bus ridership hours. As Chair of the City Council's Education and Youth Committee, he also fought alongside students, parents, community advocates, and his colleagues on the City Council to restore $2.58 million of funding for Community Schools and After School Programs, Safe Streets, City Schools, Maryland Food Bank, University of Maryland Cooperative Extension, and AARP Experience Corps.
Zeke’s work to support Baltimore’s youth included an innovative summer workforce development program called This Is Working. With the support of small businesses and community members, this initiative demonstrated how communities can be strengthened when youth have access to employment opportunities. In recognition of his commitment to Baltimore’s children, Zeke was named among the Best Baltimoreans of 2017 by the Baltimore Magazine.
In 2018, Zeke introduced the Transparency in Lobbying Act, which became law near the end of that year following a "people's bill signing" event. This law was written in collaboration with various stakeholder groups to reflect the voices of citizens across Baltimore and it makes the city a national leader in lobbying reform. The Transparency in Lobbying Act tightens restrictions on lobbyists and requires lobbying disclosure forms to be posted online.
In April 2019, Zeke introduced the Gender-Inclusive Single-User Restroom bill that was signed into law at the Pride Parade. This was the first ever bill signing to take place at Baltimore Pride. Restrooms can be spaces of fear and harassment for trans and non-binary people. This law will make our public accommodations more inclusive for all who live and travel through the City of Baltimore. It helps ensure our city is safe and welcoming for all communities by requiring all single-user restrooms have gender-inclusive signage.
Zeke and his staff work tirelessly to deliver world-class constituent services and to provide transparency throughout the process. Since entering office in 2016, his office has resolved over 1800 separate constituent requests for assistance. These include requests for help resolving water billing disputes, removing abandoned boats from vacant lots, and expediting the repair of broken streetlights. Zeke believes in the power of organized communities and in the past two years, his office created community-driven task forces on the topics of transportation and public safety. Community leaders from across the First District took action through these task forces to get six truck enforcement cameras installed in their neighborhoods and they are pursuing harm reduction and micro-community policing initiatives in partnership with BPD, city agencies, and local nonprofit organizations.
Zeke’s work has been featured in numerous publications including the Baltimore Sun, the Baltimore Business Journal, WYPR, The Washington Post and Ozy Magazine. He was named one of MD’s Top Twenty Leaders in Their Twenties, he won the We Are The Dream Award for service from the Baltimore Youth Commission, and most recently he was selected as one of the “10 Under 40” Jewish leaders and influencers by JMORE. Zeke is proud to own a home in Brewers Hill.
Chair, Education and Youth
Member, Executive Appointments
Member, Housing and Urban Affairs
Member, Public Safety