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.

LGBTQ+ Workgroup held quarterly meetings that were open to the public and provided a yearly report to the County Executive that addressed and identified current and emerging issues that affect the LGBTQ+ community.

LGBTQ+ Workgroup terminated on April 1, 2021.



June 22, 2022
Howard County Executive Ball Proposes County’s First Permanent LGBTQIA+ Commission to Advance Equity and Inclusion.


Calvin Ball at podium


Yolanda speaks


Group shot
Love is Love

The new Commission would follow the work of an LGBTQ Workgroup launched in 2019, by County Executive Ball, that provided recommendations on best practices and improvements to support the LGBTQ community. Executive Ball unveiled the plan, which will require the approval of the Howard County Council.

“We will always support and affirm our LGBTQ community and need to take action in the face of increased attacks on gay and transgender equality across the country,” said Ball. “Howard County can be a beacon and a model on how to uplift all our residents, and how to be inclusive and welcoming to everyone.” 

 Building off the work and recommendations already made by the LGBTQ Workgroup, the commission will be made up of at least13 members who are from the gay and transgender 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 gay and transgender community; 
  • Recommend initiatives to support LGBTQIA+ families and children; and 
  • Advise the County on policy and programs that impact our gay and transgender 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. Legislation for the commission is expected to be filed in July.  

OHRE Administrator Yolanda F. Sonnier, served as the emcee. There were inspiring remarks from Howard County Executive, Calvin Ball; the Honorable Byron E. McFarlane, Register of Wills; Bob Ford, a Member of Howard County's Human Rights Commission & a former member of the LGBTQ+ Workgroup; Jumel Howard Chapter President of the PFLAG Columbia-Howard County, MD and a former member of the LGBTQ+ Workgroup and community member, Becki Weiss Vivertte.

Workgroup Information
Workgroup Members

Maya Carey, HopeWorks of Howard County Max Crownover, PFLAG Columbia-Howard Debb Dunn, Chase Brexton
Robert Fontaine, Community Member Robert Ford, Human Rights Commission Dr. Juls Gilliam, Community Member
Jumel Howard, PFLAG Columbia-Howard County Andrew Kanicki, Community Member
Akbi Khan, Community Member
Vanita Leatherwood, HopeWorks of Howard County
Faye M. Liberatore, Community Member

Howard County Government Staff

Yolanda F. Sonnier, OHRE Administrator
Claud OHRE Outreach Supervisor
Kimberly Pruim, Director of Constituent Services and Community Partnerships

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