Anna Brenner Meyers
Known as “the first lady of education in Dade County,” Anna Brenner Meyers came to Miami in 1935 with her first husband, William Mankes. Born in in Lodz, Poland in 1896 as the daughter of Joseph and Edith Brenner, Anna came to America as an infant. She grew up in Newtown, CT and graduated high school in 1913 at the age of 16. Anna taught as a rural schoolteacher in Easton and Trumbull, Connecticut before moving to New York City in 1914.
Anna received a degree as a Registered Nurse at the Brooklyn Jewish Hospital (University of the State of New York) in 1918. She was valedictorian with excellence in surgery. Anna attended Teachers College at Columbia University from 1923-1925. She received a Bachelors of Laws from St. Lawrence University Brooklyn Law School in 1928. During the 1920s, Anna worked for the National Council of Jewish Women as a family caseworker. She married William Makes in 1927.
From 1930 until 1935, when she moved to Florida, Anna worked for the Israel Zion Hospital in Brooklyn (social worker), as a lieutenant in the New York City Crime Prevention Bureau and with the Temporary Emergency Relief Administration (precinct and case supervisor). She was a member of the American Association of Welfare Workers. She was admitted to the Florida Bar in 1936 and practiced law until 1978. Her husband William passed in 1936 and Anna married Benjamin Meyers in 1939.
During the 1940s (and for most of her life), Anna was active in the Greater Miami Jewish Federation, the Miami Business and Professional Women’s Club and the Jewish Welfare Bureau. She successfully pressured the Florida Legislature to allow married women to be able to sign contracts. Anna became an officer of the International Federation of Women Lawyers (Federacion Internacional de Abogadas), which had been founded in 1944.
In 1951, Anna organized and served as the first president of the Florida Association of Women Lawyers. Governor Charley Johns appointed her to the Dade County School Board in November 1953. She was the first woman to hold such a post. Anna served for eighteen years. While on the school board, she pushed for desegregation of the schools and helped to establish Miami Dade Community College (Anna Brenner Meyers Hall was dedicated in 1977) and the Baker Aviation Vocational School. Anna was also a pioneer in educational broadcasting and television. In March 1953, she ran unsuccessfully for Circuit Court Judge.
During her lifetime, Anna was active with the Dade County Community Chest, was one of the organizers of the Jewish Home for the Aged and Temple Beth Sholom, and assisted in bringing Castro fleeing Cubans to South Florida. She was invited to both the Johnson (1965) and Nixon (1973) Inaugurals. Anna was named to the Miami Centennial -96 Women’s Hall of Fame.