A diverse mix of voices leads to better discussions, decisions, and outcomes for everyone.

Sundar Pichai

The Equity & Restorative Practices Unit (ERPU) utilizes an equity-centered lens to infuse concepts of equity in the county’s service delivery, decision-making, and resource distributions. ERPU seeks to ensure a shared organizational understanding of racial equity and social justice by supporting departments and staff for transformational change and operationalizing equitable practices, policies, and procedures that result in more fair and just outcomes.

ERPU honors and stands in solidarity with community members and organizers and all of the people who are agents of equity and racial justice.


Seven Core Beliefs that Guide Our Equity and Restorative Practices Work:

  • Learning and Equity Mindfulness. We believe an integral part of equity-centered capacity building is the learning that occurs through service, awareness, and community involvement results in the critical understanding of a person’s lived experience and develops a deeper commitment to justice and empathic engagement.
  • Social and Racial Justice. Our work reflects the vision of a more just working and living community. We seek to address the root causes of social and racial inequity by challenging the personal beliefs and social systems that create it and build meaning collaboratively.
  • Ethic of Service. We believe that each of us has the ability and capacity to influence our local communities, positively and negatively. Therefore, we seek to promote an ethic of equitable services and social responsibility. Through education, reflection, and community partnerships, we provide resources to individuals and groups in their quest to identify and respond to oppression and inequality, to bring about a fundamental change in social systems, and commit to a life-long investment in service and social responsibility.
  • Inclusion Matters. We believe that people impacted by a decision should be engaged in the decision-making process. We actively involve the voices and perspectives of community partners and engage as equal stakeholders.
  • Restorative Practice Framework. We believe that there is no racial justice without restorative practice. By centering a restorative practice framework within service delivery, here is an opportunity for achieving justice that helps restore the dignity of all people involved in a wrong-doing and puts in place a framework to share in mutual human development.
  • Authentic and Diverse Coalitions. We believe that equity is advanced when we identify our commonalities, build upon our strengths and expertise, and engage our differences. Our efforts to build authentic partnerships and coalitions across social, economic, and geographic boundaries and roles are sincere and based on engagement, honest and open dialogue, mutual respect, and a shared vision and goals.
  • Integrity. We believe that our commitment to service and equity mandates that we live our core values and act with respect, honesty, vulnerability, empathy, dignity, and compassion.

Who We Are


Dr. Denise Boston, Equity and Restorative Practices Manager


Dr. Denise Boston (she, her) serves as the inaugural Equity and Restorative Practices Manager in the Office of Human Rights and Equity, where she operationalizes equity, inclusion, and belonging oversight for internal and external efforts.  Dr. Boston has been an educator and administrator in counseling psychology and equity-driven programs for more than 30 years.  In these roles she has facilitated department wide changes and helped to create a culture of inclusion that is self-reflective and transformative. Dr. Boston currently serves on the Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE) Steering Committee where they focus on GARE member-led generative racial equity impact, strategic planning with an equity lens, and restorative practice dialogues that inspire and advance equity, inclusion, and belonging.  

Drawing from her extensive teaching and culturally responsive research experience, Dr. Boston provides guidance, co-leadership, and insight on the importance of racial equity impact assessment and racial justice practices. She has served as dean of Diversity and Inclusion at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, a full professor in CIIS’s Expressive Arts Therapy Counseling Program, and a healing justice training consultant for the San Francisco Human Rights Commission’s Black to San Francisco initiative. She holds a BFA from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts, MA. from Goddard College, and a PhD from Walden University.

Dr. Boston is a registered Drama Therapist and the author and lead investigator of Playful Thursday Project: Community/University Partners and Lessons Learned in a Longitudinal Study (2017) as well as a range of articles on culturally responsive expressive arts therapy.



Equity Advisory Committee


The Equity Advisory Committee is a diverse group of Howard County staff who are committed to helping make Howard County Government a more equitable and inclusive workplace culture and service provider. The purpose of the committee is to research, inform, guide, and make recommendations to the Equity and Restorative Practices Manager and ERP Unit as it works to enact the Racial Equity Strategic 3-year Plan.

Committee Members

  • Dr. Denise Boston – Chair, Office of Human Rights and Equity
  • Melissa Maloney – Vice Chair, Department of Fire and Rescue (year 3)
  • Chynáe Vicks – Vice Chair, Department of Health (year 3)
  • Monica Simon – Secretary, Office of Human Rights and Equity
  • Xinye Chai – Bureau of Utilities (year 1)
  • Joanna Chen – Executive Branch (year 1)
  • Avery Farrell – Office of Community Sustainability (year 1)
  • Sanjeev Gholap – Technology and Communication Services (year 1)
  • Marcus Powell – Inspections and Licenses (year 1)
  • Vanessa Webb – Technology and Communication Services (year 1)
  • Captain Terrence Benn – Police Department (year 2)
  • Sucora Best – Howard County Local Children’s Board (year 2)
  • Jinal Contractor – Economic Development Authority (year 2)
  • Jan Jackson – Office of Housing and Community Development (year 2)
  • Christine Lowe – Department of Public Works (year 2)
  • Kim Pruim – Department of Recreation & Parks (year 2)
  • Tara Roundtree – Office of Human Resources (year 2)
  • Yolanda Sonnier – Office of Human Rights and Equity (ex officio)

Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE)


Howard County Government is an active member of Government Alliance on Race and Equity (GARE), which is a network of government working to achieve racial equity and advance opportunities for all. The GARE framework to normalize, organize, and operationalize will assist in our equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) efforts to establish new norms and catalyze necessary conversations around racial equity.

GARE Ambassadors

The GARE Ambassador Committee began in 2023 as an internal commitment to build organizational capacity and introduce a framework that is centered on key components of visualizing, normalizing, organizing, and operationalizing racial equity across departments and offices.  The GARE Ambassadors Committee is composed of a diverse group of County employees with various backgrounds and experiences. All members are dedicated to achieving equity, diversity, inclusion, and belonging for all.

Committee Members

  • Dr. Denise Boston - Office of Human Rights and Equity
  • Kelly Palich - Recreation and Parks
  • Danielle Bassett - Recreation and Parks
  • Stephanie Benavides - Health Services
  • Shawnte Berry - Recreation and Parks
  • Sucora Best - Department of Community Resources and Services
  • Nicholas Brightwell - Recreation and Parks
  • Melissa Byrne - Recreation and Parks
  • Kori Jones - Recreation and Parks
  • Scott Munroe - Recreation and Parks
  • Daneisha Nicholas - Recreation and Parks

Resources & Glossary


Resources & Glossary


This is a collection of resources for the community. Please explore and engage with content to grow. Racial Equity Analysis has been collected and analyzed locally and provides rich data sources, podcasts, and dynamic stories to share.  




Being White Today: A Roadmap for a Positive Antiracist Life by Shelly Tochluk

​​Library Brave Voices Brave Choices, Racial Equity Alliance

Racial Equity Tools Glossary; MP Associates, Center for Assessment and Policy Development, and World Trust Educational Services, December 2020.

Kirwan Institute: Implicit Bias Training





When Mindfulness and Racism Intersect with Barry Boyce and Rhonda Magee https://www.mindful.org/povmindfulnessforall/ https://www.ciispod.com/ijeoma-oluo

Eyes on Whiteness with Christine Saxman and Shelly Tochluk https://www.buzzsprout.com/1030876/6390127

Leveling Difference: The Antiracist Struggle for LGBTQ+ Justice with Ibram X Kendi and Don Lemon https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/leveling-difference-the-antiracist-struggle-for-lgbtq/id1564144316?i=1000527324153  

The Rise of Latinx America with Ed Morales https://www.ciispod.com/ed-morales-the-rise-of-latinx-america?rq=latinx

A Life Worthy of Our Breath with Ocean Vuong and Krista Tippett https://onbeing.org/programs/ocean-vuong-a-life-worthy-of-our-breath/

For The Wild with Corrina Gould


Developing a shared vocabulary: Introduction to Othering, Bridging & Belonging


Ijeoma Oluo: So You Want to Talk About Race with Dr. Denise Boston and Ijeoma Oluo


Equity v. Equality with Marla Moore and Dr. Denise Boston




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