Howard County Executive Calvin Ball signed an executive order November 1st to create a LGBTQ workgroup “to promote the shared community values of diversity and civility.” Ball’s office says that the workgroup will work with county agencies, nonprofits, and other community groups to promote “an environment of inclusion, communication, understanding, and respect throughout Howard County.”

“Our vision is to ensure that every person in Howard County, regardless of their gender identity or sexual orientation, can live with dignity, be unapologetically proud, and feel totally safe in our community,” said Ball. “We were so proud to hold Howard County’s first Pride Festival this year, and we want to continue to protect and embrace the beautiful spectrum of diversity that Howard County has to offer. To every single member of our LGBTQ+ community, know that we see you, we support you, and we stand in solidarity with you.”

“Our office is proud to partner on this new workgroup and to continue advancing our mission of safety, equality, and the best quality of life for every single person in Howard County,” said Howard County’s Office of Human Rights Administrator Yolanda Sonnier.

“Howard County is always working to identify best practices that will make our government responsive to the needs of every community,” said Assistant Chief Administrative Officer, Janssen Evelyn. “Our new workgroup will help us foster a more inclusive local government that can support LGBTQ residents in the workplace, community, and across the County.”

The workgroup have quarterly meetings, open to the public and will involve the Office of Human Rights.

To encourage a more inclusive community, the workgroup may sponsor activities focus groups, summits, and the like.

As well, the workgroup will advise the county executive and county employees. Meeting minutes will be publicly available on the Office of Human Rights website.

The workgroup will include:

  • Two representatives from PFLAG Columbia / Howard County
  • One representative from HopeWorks
  • One representative from the Howard County Human Rights Commission (HRC)
  • At least two student representatives
  • At least five representatives from the Howard County community (employee and/or resident)

In addition, Office of Human Rights Administrator Yolanda Sonnier will provide leadership, oversight, staffing, and logistical support. Staffer Janssen Evelyn will be County Executive Ball’s liaison for the workgroup.