Continuing a focus on providing equal opportunity for all residents, Hillsborough County has named Cheryl Howell the first-ever assistant county administrator for equity and community impact.
Howell, who has been the county’s Affordable Housing director since 2017, will help guide county policy to make sure all residents, including historically marginalized groups, have equal access to resources and opportunities to succeed and thrive.
In her new position, Howell will oversee the soon-to-be-created Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, which will center on jobs and economic development, affordable housing, health and human services, children’s services and transportation, as well as criminal justice, the digital divide and other issues.
“The county has taken a huge step that will help lead us to address our most painful and challenging problems in a measurable way. The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion will provide a pathway for citizens to engage and work toward meaningful solutions to uplift and further the common good for residents that have been marginalized and unheard,” said Howell.
Hillsborough County has been striving to address the causes and impacts of historic inequities on residents. In 2021, the board of county commissioners commissioned a community equity profile (https://www.hillsboroughcounty.org/library/hillsborough/media-center/documents/bocc/community-equity-profile.pdf) that identified current inequities and recommended solutions, including the creation of a centralized office focusing on equity and diversity. Among the goals for the Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion is to establish regular dialogue with the community focused on gaining input on initiatives and projects as well as continuing to assess and address community barriers towards equity.
Throughout her three-decade career, Howell has been deeply involved in affordable housing, community development, economic inclusion and social services issues. In addition to her role as the county’s Affordable Housing director, she serves as a board member of the Florida Housing Coalition and Tampa Family Health Center and as executive director of the Florida Community Development Association.
With this promotion, she became the highest-ranking African American female in Hillsborough County government. Howell is a graduate of the University of Central Florida with a bachelor’s in public administration/urban planning. She received her master’s in public administration and management from Webster University.