ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Howard County Executive Calvin Ball today announced the formation of two new commissions that represent a major step forward in supporting equity, inclusion and civil rights in Howard County.

Executive Ball had introduced legislation to create an LGBTQIA+ Commission and a La Alianza Commission, and the Howard County Council approved the creation of these important groups at its most recent legislative session. 

These bold steps ensure that Howard County remains a model for other communities around our nation on how to uplift all our residents, and how to be inclusive and welcoming to everyone. These new commissions will serve, support, and affirm our LGBTQIA+ and Latino communities, and will help implement long-lasting change.

Calvin Ball
Howard County Executive

The new Commissions follow the work of an LGBTQ Workgroup launched in 2019 and the La Alianza Latina Workgroup in September 2020. Both groups provided recommendations on best practices and improvements to support communities in need of representation. 

Executive Ball said that Howard County must make every effort to ensure that the rights of all residents are protected, and their voices heard, as bias, hate speech and crimes and divisiveness are on the rise throughout the country. The most recent Census shows that the Latino population of Howard County grew from by more than 10,000 residents since 2010. In Maryland, approximately 3.7 percent of the state’s 6 million residents identify as LGBTQ. 

LGBTQIA+ Commission  

Building off the work and recommendations already made by the LGBTQ Workgroup, the commission will be made up of at least 15 members who are Howard County residents and from the transgender and queer community or are representatives of regional LGBTQ organizations.  

The commission will have the following responsibilities:  

  • Support efforts to organize, educate, and mobilize the LGBTQIA+ community through coalition building and coordination with allied individuals, groups and organizations;   
  • Identify best practices to affirm members of the transgender and queer community;   
  • Recommend initiatives to support LGBTQIA+ families and children; and   
  • Advise the County on policy and programs that impact our transgender and queer community, and on how to improve outcomes for underserved and at-risk members of the LGBTQIA+ population.   
  • Support, plan, and execute events, like PRIDE, to celebrate and affirm the community.   

The commission will also submit an annual report to the County Council and County Executive.   
“What I hope to elevate is a better understanding that our identities as parents are not just about our sexual orientation, but sexual orientation is a key piece of our identity that should be recognized,” said community member Becki Weiss Vivrette. “It is about teaching our children that love is love, that everyone deserves to give and receive love, and that they deserve to hear and read stories about families that look just like theirs. That our family should never feel ashamed for being proud of who we are.”  
"Having an LGBTQ+ focus as part of the county’s government will raise awareness and will hopefully lead to measures to stem the tide of hate and inequality,” said Human Rights Commissioner Bob Ford.  
La Aliazna Latina Commission  

The commission will be made up of at least 15 members that include representatives from Latino organizations and the community. The commission will have the following responsibilities:  

  • Organize, educate, and mobilize the Latino community   
  • Work with the County and public entities to identify best practices to affirm members of the Latino community  
  • Recommend health, education, and workforce policy initiatives to support Latino families and children  
  • Advise the County Executive and County Council on policy and programs impacting Howard County, such as language access, cultural competency, representation, and government access  
  • Advise the County Executive and County Council on policy and programs to improve outcomes for underserved and at-risk segments of the Latino population  
  • Support, plan and execute programs and events to celebrate and affirm the Latino community.   

The commission will also submit an annual report to the County Council and County Executive.  

As a past Co-Chair of La Alianza Latina Workgroup, I would like to thank County Executive Ball, and the members of the Howard County Council for establishing the La Alianza Latina as a permanent commission,” said Cris Ovideo, La Alianza Workgroup past co-chair. “This is an important first step towards permanent representation of our comunidad at the county level.” 

Applicants interested in either commission should send a resume and brief letter explaining why they want to serve on the Commission to Kimberly Pruim either by email to [email protected] or by mail to: Howard County Government, Office of the County Executive, Attn: Kimberly Pruim, 3430 Court House Drive, Ellicott City, MD 21043. The names of eligible applicants will be submitted to the County Executive for nomination and then to the County Council for confirmation.

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