Biography

Aravella Simotas
Aravella Simotas, a lifelong resident of Astoria, Queens, represents New York’s 36th Assembly District. 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’ involvement in civic affairs dates back to high school, where she organized fundraising events for local charities. Since then, she has established a strong record of public service and has devoted herself to improving the lives of others.

Simotas serves on the Assembly’s Banks, Consumer Affairs and Protection, Energy, Judiciary, and Small Business Committees. In Albany, she has quickly established herself as an effective legislator, passing several bills and promoting common-sense policies aimed at revitalizing New York’s economy, protecting neglected consumers, and strengthening our criminal justice system. 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 government agencies and corporations alike accountable when they failed meet their obligations to Astoria’s residents.

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 also demonstrated a particular knack for environmental advocacy, working for the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation during law school and collaborating with her predecessor, New York State Senator Michael Gianaris, in a battle to curb construction of additional power plants in western Queens.

After 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 the economically challenged.

Simotas 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. A proud product 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.