Biography

Aravella Simotas
Aravella Simotas, a lifelong resident of Astoria, Queens, represents New York’s 36th Assembly District in Western Queens. In 2010, she became the first Greek-American woman elected to office in New York and the first woman elected to office in her district.

Simotas’s interest in public service and civic affairs began in high school where she organized fundraising events for local charities. When Simotas was in law school, she worked with the NYS Department of Environmental Conservation and local elected officials who were fighting to stop the construction of more power plants in Western Queens, a neighborhood already suffering from the effects of existing power plants. This victory of environmental advocacy – which resulted in cleaner air for Astoria – was an irresistible taste of public service and the satisfaction that comes from helping make people’s lives better.

After graduating law school, Simotas served as a federal law clerk before joining the firm Bickel & Brewer as a commercial litigator. There, she volunteered a significant amount of time to the Bickel & Brewer Storefront, an organization that provides legal representation to low-income New Yorkers.

Prior to her election to the New York State Assembly, Simotas worked at all levels of government, including as a district representative for New York City Council Speaker Peter F. Vallone, Sr. and Councilmember Peter F. Vallone, Jr. She was a longtime member of Queens Community Planning Board 1 and served on the boards of the United Community Civic Association and the Hellenic Times Scholarship Fund.

In Albany, Simotas has established a reputation as a dedicated and effective legislator, sponsoring new laws that promote common-sense policies aimed at revitalizing New York’s economy, protecting neglected consumers, strengthening our criminal justice system and protecting victims of sex crimes. Back home, Simotas has been an outspoken advocate for seniors, students, and working families, successfully fighting to keep schools and senior centers open while holding City and State agencies and corporations alike accountable when they failed meet their obligations to Astoria’s residents.

A proud graduate of the New York City public school system, Simotas attended Public School 17, Junior High School 126 and William C. Bryant High School in Astoria before receiving her Bachelor of Arts degree in economics and philosophy, summa cum laude, from Fordham University in 1999. She received her law degree from Fordham Law School in 2002, where she served as the managing editor of the Fordham Environmental Law Journal.

Simotas and her husband, John Katsanos, were married in 2004 and reside in Astoria with their 4-year old daughter.