Information via Press Release:
County Executive Ball Announces New Human Rights Administrator
ELLICOTT CITY – Today, Howard County Executive Calvin Ball announced Yolanda F. Sonnier, Esq. as the new head of the Howard County Office of Human Rights, effective immediately. The responsibilities of Office of Human Rights are to investigate complaints of discrimination; resolve complaints by conference, conciliation or litigation; and enforce the Howard County Human Rights Law.
“As reported incidents of hate have risen at the national level, Howard County has not been immune. Our communities deserve a Human Rights Administrator with the experience and passion to make positive change. I am proud to announce Yolanda F. Sonnier as that champion,” said Ball. “Ms. Sonnier will bring her stellar legal background, leadership on diversity issues, an innovative approach, and compassion for the vulnerable to this post. She has a proven track record of capable leadership and, on behalf of everyone in Howard County, we are excited to begin working with her to help ensure we are a model office for civil and human rights.”
Ms. Sonnier previously served as a partner at Randall & Sonnier, LLC before becoming the Principal Attorney at Sonnier Legal & Consulting Group, served as a volunteer attorney for the Maryland Commission on Civil Rights, led the effort to review and revise the diversity plan for the American Bar Association Section of Family Law and created their Diversity Fellowship program. She had served as the Chair of the Maryland State Bar Association’s Diversity & Inclusion committee since 2017.
During her time with Randall & Sonnier, Ms. Sonnier was a Co-Project Manager for a multimillion dollar contract with the State of Maryland to represent children in need of assistance. She has represented clients in employment, family law, child advocacy, personal injury, criminal, estate planning and general civil litigation matters.
Ms. Sonnier is also the president and co-founder of “A Step Closer Foundation Inc.” a nonprofit helping children involved in the judicial foster care system. She has a J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law and a B.A. cum laude from Norfolk State University.
Some of Ms. Sonnier other accolades include being named:
- A “Maryland Super Lawyer” since 2014
- One of “Maryland’s Top 100 Women”
- Part of the “Legal Elite” by Baltimore SmartCEO
- A “VIP Leading Maryland – Successful Before 40” by The Daily Record
As Human Rights Administrator, Ms. Sonnier will advance the mission of the Office to “eradicate discrimination, increase equal opportunity and protect and promote Human Rights in the County in new and innovative ways, such as being data-informed and effectively employing technology. The Office serves as a catalyst in fostering attitudes and beliefs among Howard County citizens which confirm that all individuals have an equal opportunity to enjoy a wholesome and productive quality of life and can pursue their lives free of discrimination.”
Ms. Sonnier will replace Acting Human Rights Administrator Janssen Evelyn, who is the current Assistant Chief Administrative Officer.
This announcement comes only days after the press release related to: “County Executive Ball Releases Office of Human Rights 2018 Annual Report” that showed an increase in hate-bias incidents in Howard County in 2018 from the previous year.