Howard to Name First Equity and Restorative Practices Manager

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball at today’s announcement (photo courtesy of Howard County Government)

Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced the creation of the Equity and Restorative Practices Manager, a new position in county government whose role will identify any practices or policies needed to ensure equity, recommend and implement training and competency-building programs, and develop strategic community partnerships.

Through restorative practices, the leader in this position will help Howard County in strengthening relationships and building social connections. Ball also announced the renaming of the Office of Human Rights to the Office of Human Rights and Equity.

“When I first took office, our transition team recommended a diversity, equity, and inclusion position for the County Executive’s office,” said County Executive Ball. “Understanding the huge undertaking of this position, we decided to take the permanent approach by establishing it in the Office of Human Rights, ensuring that this person will evaluate restorative practices in order to make a long-term impact.”

“The current pandemic has only highlighted the disparities and discrimination that so many people face – there is an urgent need to address inequity in our community. These improvements provide the opportunity for Howard County to be a model for other jurisdictions on how to implement real change and create a more equitable and just community.”

According to a County press release:

“Howard County is a great place to live and work but there are still substantial disparities that exist here,” said Yolanda Sonnier, Administrator of the Office of Human Rights. “In order to improve the disparities and inequities, we must identify them, and this position will work towards making the County a more equitable place for all. The person hired will build upon existing partnerships within County government, community organizations and community members, and create new ones, to collaboratively effectuate long-term change.”

For the Office of Human Rights to be officially renamed, a code change will be pre-filed in September for the County Council’s consideration. The transition report suggested changing the Office of Human Rights to the Office of Civil Rights. After review, the administration determined the name, Office of Human Rights and Equity, reflects the importance of inclusivity and focuses more directly on promoting rights inherent to all human beings and ending discrimination.

“Equity and access is a primary focus for youth advocacy here in Howard County, and our latest report showcases the scope of that effort from our government agencies and our communities. We look forward to supporting the county’s growing commitment to equity work and promoting human rights for all of our residents,” said Kimberly A. Eisenreich, Administrator, The Local Children’s Board.

“It’s great to see the strategic actions taken by the Howard County Executive and his staff. They are taking necessary actions to focus on the balance of equity and supporting the representation of all communities,” said Larry “Lee” Hencshel, Community Advocate.

Equity has been a consistent focus in Howard County. In 2018, the Local Children’s Board convened an Equity Committee charged with developing a baseline report using qualitative and quantitative data to tell the story of opportunity across race, ethnicity and income levels in Howard County. In 2019, the report was presented to County Executive Ball and concluded that racial and socioeconomic equity should be given significant considerations when planning and developing policies and practices that impact public services, programs and initiatives.

Visit the Howard County website for more information.