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Eileen Brookman

Eileen Brookman, circa 1965

Eileen (Milstein) Brookman (1921-2004) was member of the Nevada Assembly from 1967-1977 and 1987-1990. Small in stature but nicknamed "Queenie" by her admirers, she advocated passionately for the rights of persons with disabilities, minorities, people with low incomes, women, and especially the elderly. Brookman entered state politics in 1962 when she was appointed Indian Commissioner by Governor Grant Sawyer. She was also active in many organizations, including the NAACP, the Senior Citizen Resource Center Advisory Board, the Clark County Association on Mental Health, and the National Conference of Christians and Jews. She served as Anti-Defamation League (ADL) chairman of the Las Vegas chapter of B’nai B’rith, and was also a life member of Hadassah and the Sisterhood of Temple Beth Sholom. In 1982 Brookman was chairman of the Nevada delegation to the White House Conference on Aging, and was subsequently appointed to the Nevada Commission on Aging. She received many local and regional awards, including Clark County Humanitarian Mother of the Year, "Outstanding Woman of the West," Nevada Distinguished Citizen, and B’nai B’rith Outstanding Woman of the Year. Eileen B. Brookman Elementary School in Las Vegas is named in her honor. 

Eileen Milstein was born on October 25, 1921, in Denver, Colorado. The Milstein family relocated to Southern California and Eileen attended Eagle Rock High School in Los Angeles and Los Angeles City College. She married George Brookman in 1941, while he was in the Army. After the birth of their two children the family moved to Las Vegas, where George became a general contractor and Eileen entered the political arena. 

During her 16 years in the legislature Brookman served on some of the most important Assembly committees, including Government Affairs, Health and Welfare, and Education. She was the vice-chairman of the Legislative Functions and Assembly Ways and Means committees, and she co-chaired the Clark County Assembly Delegation. In her last term, she served on the interim committee studying the Youth Services Division and the Juvenile Justice System, and was the Assembly Representative to the State Commission of Aging. 

Brookman sponsored such legislative milestones as the reorganization of the Nevada National Guard, the adoption of the Nevada Code of Military Justice, the passage of the "hate crimes" bill for Nevada, and the creation of the Governor's Advisory Council on Education Relating to the Holocaust. During the 1975 legislative session, Brookman introduced a bill to eliminate pay toilets, which were a national issue of gender inequality at the time.

Brookman was a consistent supporter of legislation to establish and improve senior citizen programs. She sponsored the Older Americans Act, which created the State Division of Aging Services and secured funding for senior citizen benefits such as reduced transportation fares and the "Meals on Wheels" program. She also sponsored the creation of the Aging Services Division of the Department of Human Resources, the prohibition of discrimination in private employment on the basis of age, and the entitlement of senior citizens to vote by absentee ballot. 

In 1990, Brookman learned that her son would be undergoing heart surgery and ended her political career at that time to be by his side. Eileen Brookman passed away in her Las Vegas home on July 1, 2004, after a battle with cancer; her husband died only a few weeks later. Both were survived by their daughter Deborah. 

Sources:

"Eileen Brookman: Biography." Women’s Research Institute of Nevada. March 21, 2011. http://wrinunlv.org/research/our-history-profiles-of-nevada-women/eileen....

"Mrs. Eileen B. Brookman." Clark County School District. August 19, 2014. http://www.brookmanelementary.com/bio.php.

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