The Human Rights Commission (HRC) was established in 1969. It is comprised of 11 members and a non-voting student member, 18 years old or under. Commissioners must live in Howard County and represent the diversity of county residents. The duties and responsibilities of the Commission are prescribed by law and include recommending a civil rights policy to the County Executive and the County Council. This includes having the authority to conduct surveys and studies concerning civil liberties in order to promote equality in the community. In addition to hosting the annual HRC awards, they support OHRE outreach activities.
The Howard County Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission (MLK) was established by order of the Howard County Executive to encourage and coordinate appropriate ceremonies and activities honoring Martin Luther King, Jr. Commissioners are appointed by the County Executive to serve an initial term of two years. Each year, the MLK celebration takes place on the third Sunday of January. The Day of Service takes place the next day on the third Monday of January. The Day of Service provides a variety of service opportunities throughout the community that is representative of Dr. King’s dedication to servant leadership.
The Howard County LGBTQ+ Workgroup was established on November 1, 2019. County Executive Calvin Ball signed an Executive Order to create an LGBTQ+ (Lesbian,Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer+) Workgroup to promote the shared community values of diversity and civility. The Workgroup partnered with county agencies non-profit organizations, and other community groups to facilitate an environment of inclusion, communication, understanding, and respect throughout Howard County.
In October 2022 the County Executive and the County Council voted to establish the LGBTQIA+ Commission to continue the much needed work of equity, inclusion, communication, understanding, and respect for all gender and sexual identities. The purpose of this Commission is to advance policy and systemic change for all persons who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bi-Sexual, Transgender, Queer, Non-binary, and who identify in other capacities along the LGBTQIA+ Spectrum. The Commission is made up of 17 voting members and will seek out 2 non-voting student members in the new year. They meet bi-monthly beginning on January 12, 2023.
The County Executive established La Alianza Latina as a workgroup during Hispanic Heritage Month in September of 2020. The goals of the workgroup were to promote diversity, civility, and address the concerns and struggles that Latino and immigrant communities experience. In October 2022, the County Executive and the County Council voted to establish La Alianza Latina Commission in order to continuing the work of advancing policy and systemic change for the uplift of Latino families, businesses, and residents. The Commission consists of 16 voting members and 2 student non-voting members. Each appointed member was appointed by the County Executive and confirmed by the County Council. La Alianza Latina Commission meets bi-monthly beginning on January 24, 2023.
The Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) Commission advises the Howard County Executive on policy initiatives and advocates on issues that affect the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Consisting of 22 members, AAPI hosts public quarterly meetings and presents biannual reports. AAPI organizes cultural events and has informative discussions on emerging issues. It is with the hope that these conferences will foster stronger relationships between the AAPI and the community. The Commission is dedicated to creating a safe place where AAPI residents feel valued and heard in the community.