ELLICOTT CITY, MD – Last night, the Howard County Human Rights Commission recognized the winners of its 2022 Human Rights Awards during a ceremony at the Owen Brown Interfaith Center. Pictures from the event can be found here.
These awards recognize the outstanding Howard County residents and organizations who commit their time, expertise, and resources to improving our community for all. The work of human rights requires sacrifice and a commitment to consistently advocating on behalf of the underserved. That is why I am so proud and excited to celebrate these awardees for their stellar example.
This year’s winners are:
James E. Henson Sr. & Jean W. Toomer Award: Dr. Yvette Oquendo – A member of the Board of Trustees of the Horizon Foundation, the Howard County Racial Equity Task Force and La Alianza Latina Workgroup, Dr. Oquendo has worked diligently to promote wellness in Howard County, not only through her practice, but also through her commitment to community service. Dr. Oquendo advocated for the re-establishment of a maternity clinic in Howard County that would provide pre-natal and post-natal care to uninsured and underinsured mothers free of charge. Her passion for this cause aided in the formation of a coalition between La Alianza Latina and other organizations, including the Horizon Foundation, that petitioned the County Executive to allocate money for the project. This past May 2022, County Executive Ball announced his inclusion of $1.3 million funding in his proposed Fiscal Year 2023 operating budget.
James E. Henson Sr. & Jean W. Toomer Award: Ms. Kazandra Anderson – As the Coordinator of the Teen Parenting Childcare and Outreach Programs at Wilde Lake High School (WLHS), Ms. Anderson creates programming and provides resources and support for teen parents across the Howard County Public School System to ensure they do not drop out of school. She oversees the Child Care Center at WLHS, allowing teen parents the ability to focus on their school work, and assists Black, Hispanic/Latino and multilingual students at the school find career, college and scholarship opportunities. In addition, Ms. Anderson also organizes the WILDE Collective initiatives, which includes a monthly lunch and learn workshop series with Howard County leaders of color and a Maryland HBCU College Information Night.
Colette Roberts Organization Award: Bridgeway Community Church (BCC) – BCC is a non-denominational, multicultural church that formed its name with the intent of building a bridge to the community through service that recognizes all people with dignity and believes all are worthy of equal human rights. BCC supports unhoused veterans and others with clothing and supplies to re-enter the workplace. It also has the largest non-profit food bank in Howard County, helps coordinate housing resources for abused women and children and hosted a vaccination clinic. BCC provides personal studies for the incarcerated and holiday gifts for their children.
Dr. Murray Simon Student Award: Corinne Chau – As a senior at Howard High School, Corinne created the Whirlwind Reading Challenge to raise funds for the Whirlwind Johnson Foundation. Dr. Robert “Whirlwind” Johnson was a pioneer African American physician and athlete who founded the American Tennis Association Junior Development Program for African American youth. The Foundation aims to restore Dr. Johnson’s home and turn it into a museum. Corinne created a website for her Whirlwind Reading Challenge and raised more than $4,300 for the foundation. Corinne is also an award-winning tennis athlete, Girl Scout and member of the National Honor Society.
This year, the Howard County Human Rights Commission will be honoring three individuals and a community organization for their exemplary contributions towards eliminating discrimination and advancing human and civil rights in Howard County. Each recipient has worked tirelessly to build a more just and equitable community in Howard County and beyond. I am humbled by their outstanding work, as well as the work of the many other worthy nominees that we received.
Presented annually, the Human Rights Commission Awards honor individuals and community organizations for contributions to human and civil rights in Howard County. The purpose of the awards is to recognize exemplary citizenship, dedicated leadership and outstanding achievement in eliminating or eradicating discrimination, while advancing human rights for all residents of Howard County. The awards are named after several pioneers of human rights who lived, worked, and/or served in Howard County in order to honor and preserve their contributions and legacy. Award recipients are selected by the Commission based on nominations submitted by the community.
“Every year the Office of Human Rights & Equity counts it a privilege to partner with the Human Rights Commission in the honoring of our local advocates and agents for change,” said Office of Human Rights & Equity Administrator, Yolanda F. Sonnier. “True community transformation cannot take place in silos. It is when we all work together that the arc of justice bends towards equity for all, and the work of this year’s awardees is a testament to such community partnership and advocacy. Join us as we celebrate this year’s award recipients.”
For more information about this year’s award ceremony and/or winners, contact the Office of Human Rights & Equity at 410-313-6430 or email [email protected]. To learn more about the Human Rights Commission, visit the Office of Human Rights and Equity’s “Commissions & Workgroups” website.