Denise Boston was in the ninth grade when she and her family moved to Howard County, Maryland, in 1970, in search of a good life in the new community of Columbia.
They were drawn to the vision of urban planner and real estate developer James Rouse, who founded what is now Maryland’s second-largest city—located between Baltimore and Washington, D.C.—in the late 1960s as a green-space-studded, community-oriented “garden for growing people.”
Nearly 20 years after the Bostons came here, Erika Strauss Chavarria’s parents made a home in this county with a similar desire.
Today, the two women are among many Howard County residents working to create a model community where everyone can thrive: Dr. Boston is Howard County’s first equity and restorative practices manager, tasked with listening to residents and ensuring that county-government policies, practices, and services are equitable. Strauss Chavarria teaches Spanish at her alma mater, Wilde Lake High School, while also running Columbia Community Cares, a social and food justice nonprofit.