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Ann Klein

Image courtesy of the League of Women Voters of New Jersey, Special Collections & University Archives, Rutgers University Libraries, New Brunswick, NJ

Ann Klein (1923-1986) joined the fight for female equality as president of the Morristown League of Women Voters. Klein was recognized as an articulate and assertive proponent of women’s rights and spent her lifetime encouraging women to participate in all aspects of government. She was later elected president of the New Jersey League of Women Voters, a position she held for five years.

In addition, Klein successfully ran for the New Jersey Assembly in 1971 and thereafter became the first Democrat elected in Morris County in over 60 years. She resigned from the position two years later to become the first New Jersey woman to run in the gubernatorial race as a major party candidate. Although Klein lost the election to Brendan Byrne, she eventually joined his cabinet as Commissioner of Institutions and Agencies. This appointment was considered at the time to be the most significant appointment ever awarded to a woman in the state.

Klein persuaded Governor Byrne to split her department into a State Prisons Division and a Human Services Division. As Director of the new Department of Human Services, Klein advocated on behalf of orphaned children, led the fight against child abuse and campaigned for a more efficient Medicaid system. Klein devoted her life and career to improving the lives of the physically disabled and mentally ill in New Jersey.

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