The Equity & Restorative Practices (ERP) Unit utilizes an equity-centered lens to infuse concepts of equity in the county’s service delivery, decision-making, and resource distributions. ERP 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.
ERP 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 Guides 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.
Dr. Denise Boston (she, her) is Howard County’s first Equity and Restorative Practices Manager under the Office of Human Rights and Equity. Dr. Boston is charged with building out the newly created ERP Unit which will oversee the development, coordination, and administration of racial and social equity policies and practices for Howard County Government. Prior to joining OHRE, Denise served as the Dean of Diversity and Inclusion at the California Institute of Integral Studies in San Francisco, advocating for culturally responsive leadership, community-based research, and equitable education. She is also an professor of counseling psychology and an international visiting scholar, industrial/organizational consultant, and creative arts therapy workshop presenter. Dr. Boston is an alum of Walden University and Goddard College; she attended the University of North Carolina School of the Arts undergraduate School of Drama, Acting Concentration.
Miriam Bennett (they, them) brings a wealth of community-based experience in advancing social justice and anti-racism work to their role with the Equity and Restorative Practices Unit. Miriam is committed personally, academically, and professionally to anti-oppression work. Previously, Miriam worked with the Howard County Health Department, Bureau of Behavioral Health and Howard County Office on Aging and Independence. In 2018, they championed the Office of Aging and Independence getting SAGE Certified to better serve the needs of LGBT older adults. Miriam partnered with Howard Community College School of Dentistry to provide a Dental Health Fair to address gaps in dental care access. Miriam was also the SAGE Fellow for Maryland. In this capacity, they started the Howard County LGBT Older Adult roundtable, which is still active. Miriam attended Macro Social Work with the University of Maryland School of Social Work and Hood College and participated in a year-long internship with the Baltimore City Mayor’s Office of Human Resources: Journey Home. They were an active member in the Anti Oppression Student Work Group, participating in social action and student organizing for Freddy Grey.
Julian Amaya (he, him) Julian joined the ERP Unit this summer as an intern because he is very interested in working in the Office of Human Rights and Equity to address systemic inequities and by working for inclusion, he hopes that Howard County can become a place where everyone’s voice is heard and respected. Julian is a rising sophomore studying economics at Morehouse College in Atlanta. He attended K through 12 school in Howard County and was active in the community during his high school years at Mt. Hebron. Some of Julian’s outreach efforts include joining Alpha Achievers and working on the Alpha Achievers executive board and leading it as the president. During his tenure, he grew the honor society’s membership and school service outreach by working with the local Middle Schools. Julian helped create a relationship between black men in high school and boys in middle for the purpose of mentorship. As an undergraduate student, he joined the executive board of COVID Classroom, an online platform that aims to help Morehouse students develop their creative skills, business and networking acumen, and community organization abilities. Julian currently is a member of Morehouse 100, an organization that works to mentor elementary students in Atlanta and does community service projects. In his free time, Julian loves to spend time with his friends and family as well as write poetry and short stories.
About the 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. Our role is to research, inform, guide, and make recommendations to the Equity and Restorative Practices Manager and ERP Unit as it works to enact the Equity Strategic 3-year Plan.
- Dr. Denise Boston, Chair
- Mary Kendall, Vice-Chair
- Lakisha Williams, Vice-Chair
- Miriam Bennett, Secretary
- Ernestine Bridges
- Kimberly Eisenreich
- Josh Feldmark
- Quanita Kareem
- Kierra Kimmie
- Priscilla Kung
- Gary Kuc, County Solicitor
- Nicola Morgal
- Justin Prister
- Jacqueline Scott
- Yolanda Sonnier
- Lt. Adrienne Thomas
- Lt. Ashley Weber
- Kwadwo Yeboah