The Mission

The Mission of the Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice is to reduce and eliminate racial disparities and inequities in Montgomery County.

Contact Us

Director: Tiffany Ward
Address: 101 Monroe Street, Rockville, MD 20850
Phone: 240-777-5334
MPIA Contact: Tiffany.Ward@montgomerycountymd.gov
Administrative Specialist II: Andrea.Gardner@montgomerycountymd.gov
Program Manager – Trainings: Gimari.Jones@montgomerycountymd.gov

The Purpose

The Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice (ORESJ) is a county-wide office focused on advancing racial equity and dismantling structural racism within County Government. The ORESJ was created in December of 2019 by The Racial Equity and Social Justice Act to help reduce and ultimately eliminate racial and other disparities experienced by residents of color across Montgomery County. We do this by supporting County Departments in normalizing conversations on race and other equity issues, organizing staff to work together for transformational change, and operationalizing new practices, policies and procedures that are equity centered.impact plans.

We have been given the charge of facilitating the Racial Equity and Social Justice Committee, training County staff and Equity Leads, and conducting department-wide Equity Assessments to assist every department in creating Racial Equity Action Plans.

The Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice recognizes that it will take transformational shifts within government to truly address disparities experienced by communities of color and low-income communities, and therefore we focus our efforts on building capacity within the government to understand what it takes to advance racial equity within every County Department. We believe that equity is everyone's job, and our office provides training, technical assistance and tools to all of our County Departments and the staff.

Background

"Not everything that is faced can be changed, but nothing can be changed until it is faced" – James Baldwin

At first glance Montgomery County appears to be a bastion of wealth and opportunity. In fact, until very recently Montgomery County was the richest county in Maryland. Upon closer examination we found revealing disparities in education, housing, transportation, poverty and income.

In Montgomery County, white median household income ($119,000) almost double that of Hispanic or Latinx ($66,000) and Black or African American ($62,000) households. White households earned approximately 10% more than Asian households ($109,000). Source: American Community Survey 5-Year Estimates 2018
Black children in Montgomery County have a poverty rate more than 6x that of white children in Montgomery County. Source: ACS 5-Year Estimates 2018
More members of the white (72%) and Asian (67%) populations received bachelor’s degrees compared to Black or African American (43%) and Hispanic or Latinx (25%) residents.
Similarly, more white (73%) and Asian (74%) populations own their homes in Montgomery County compared to Black or African-American (43%) and Hispanic or Latinx (49%) residents. Source: Latest Available ACS 1-Year Estimates 2016-2018

Data only partially helps us to understand these disparities, as a County government and as a community we need to center the lived experiences of members of communities of color. We must take an honest look at history, systems and institutions to analyze how disproportionality exists across all sectors and issue areas.

We will take a systems approach to our analysis ridding ourselves of the myth that individual people are the problem. We must understand that people are not the problem, it is the systems and institutions (including government), and the policies and practices that they have created, perpetuated and maintained that lead to these outcomes.

Our Racial Equity Journey

After years of addressing disproportionate outcomes in a piecemeal way, the Montgomery County County Council decided to look at disproportionate outcomes across county government with a racial equity lens. Informed by the Racial Equity in Decision Making: Lessons from the field report, the County Council passed a resolution and eventually passed legislation that was informed by a community input process that asked members to tell County officials what they thought the most pressing issues of disproportionality were. The community also organized to influence the legislation itself. The MORE coalition, made up of several local non-profit organizations including, Impact Silver Spring, Jews United for Justice, CASA recommended amendments to the bill that would make the Office of Racial Equity and Social Justice and elected officials accountable to the community.