The Director's Office of the Office of Human Rights provides overall direction of the office, administration of the budget, personnel, procurement, information technology, and support services to Human Rights commissioners, boards, and committees. This program also provides funding for the student human rights award.
James L. Stowe (Jim) is a native of Belmont, North Carolina. Jim and his family relocated to Montgomery County Maryland to serve as the 4th Director of the Office of Human Rights. The agency, established in 1960, provides leadership to the people of Montgomery County and works toward eliminating racism/discrimination; identifying and resolving community tensions; and educating the citizens about cultural diversity. These efforts culminate in our goal of Creating a Culture of Service and a Climate of Fairness and Inclusion.
The office has a rich legacy of human right advocacy and professional competency and continues today as one of the premiere civil and human rights agencies in the nation. Under Jim’s leadership the Office has sets it sights on even greater engagement in the community and heightening professional standards for all involved with the office.
Jim has been instrumental in developing new program initiatives and re-positioning the office for success in the 21st Century. These programs include increased emphasis in enforcement productivity and competency which led to the agency becoming fully certified with the EEOC Fair Employment Practices Agency Program, renewed emphasis in fair housing which led to fair housing continuing educational credit program for realtors, apartment managers and other housing providers as well as increased enforcements efforts through the Interagency Fair Housing Coordination Group to insure that all barriers to fair accessible housing for everyone are removed; new initiatives to combat the incident of hate violence activities through the Committee on Hate Violence and the convening of a county wide symposium on "Bullying in Schools" and a forum on Post 911 Issues and Concerns within the Muslim and Sikh Community; the Community Friendship Picnic and an increased effort in out reach activities with the Montgomery County Human Rights Commission to convene public forums on Racial Profiling, the Criminal Justice System and The Digital Divide, a response to the Trayvon Martin shooting; and an increase in programming for youth with an expansion of the Human Rights Youth Camp for 5th Graders, Human Rights Day Observance for all school levels and the Civil Rights Educational Freedom Tour which is for the entire community. Mr. Stowe is a member of a number of community organizations and works with these programs and activities throughout Montgomery County. The agency continues to evolve as the needs and demands of a growing diverse county shift and change. The agency remains however committed to the long held principles of fairness and equal justice under the law.
Jim served as the first Executive Director of the City of Columbus, Community Relations Commission. He had been instrumental in involving city leaders in both the public and private sectors in examining the negative impact of racism on the entire community. He co-facilitated a pilot program for small group discussion (study circles) on race relations. Jim was a member of the United Way ACCORD Vision Council (Formerly the Race Relations Vision Council), which worked in partnership with the Columbus Dispatch and The Ohio State University Research Center to develop the most comprehensive Race Relations Survey for Columbus and the Central Ohio area. He has been a driving force in moving the city of Columbus toward a greater acknowledgement of diversity as a viable resource to the community through the “Columbus Way Initiative”. This initiative was the City of Columbus Ohio’s response to the Tragedy of 9/11. In addition, he has worked tirelessly with immigrant and refugee communities assisting in resettlements efforts of these newcomers to city of Columbus. Columbus in now home to the fastest growing immigrant and refugee populations in the Midwest.Jim is also host of a community affairs program called “Community Tapestry.” The program highlights issues of diversity and human interest aspects of the Columbus community.
In addition, he worked tirelessly with immigrant and refugee communities assisting in resettlements efforts of these newcomers to city of Columbus. Columbus had become home to the fastest growing immigrant and refugee populations in the Midwest. Jim was also host of a community affairs program called “Community Tapestry.” The program highlighted issues of diversity and human interest aspects of the Columbus community. Jim was also innovative in the area of community outreach with the development of a strategy called the CIT Community Intervention Teams which was designed to assist with community unrest and violence.
Jim also convened a city-wide effort to look at the issue of Ex-Offender re-entry into the community. This effort started a city wide dialogue on this subject and a number of programs to assist those directly and indirectly involved.
He also led a similar effort to bring attention and focus to the issue of Human Trafficking. The effort led to the creation of a county wide coalition to insure support systems were in place to assist any victims.
Jim also worked to improved diversity awareness through the city wide “Culture Fest” highlighting the various cultures through art, music, dance, education and food. This event attracted nearly 10,000 people each year.
In addition Jim was the convener of the city-wide and state-wide celebration of the Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday observance and spearheaded a state-wide civil rights educational tour of the south to enhance the knowledge and understanding of the civil rights movement.
Jim also lead in the development the coordination of a diversity awareness program with the public/private school systems and the Jewish community to incorporate a Holocaust Remembrance teaching program for classroom teachers and students.
Jim served as a Immediate Past President of the International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies an organization whose membership represents statutorily human and civil rights agencies in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Japan, Ghana, and Europe. He has been a member of the organization since 1987. During his membership he has held numerous offices and committee assignments with in the organization. They include 1st Vice President and 2nd Vice President. He is also a former national board member and Past President of the National Association of Human Right Workers. Jim is a trained mediator with certification from Capital University Law School in Columbus, Ohio.
His professional affiliations and professional experience have included: Southern Region Vice President of the National Association of Human Rights Workers (NAHRW) (1989-90); Member, International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies (1987-2009); 1st Vice President International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies (1999-2003), 2nd Vice President International Association of Official Human Rights Agencies; President of the National Association of Human Rights Workers (1990-1991); Member of the North Carolina Chapter of the National Association of Human Rights Workers (1987-1993); Member of the National Advisory Committee to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development on Fair Housing and Equal Opportunity (1991-1993); General Liaison to the Leadership Conference on Civil Rights (1990-1991); life member of the NAACP; Member of the Ohio Chapter of NAHRW. National Board of Directors for National Association of Human Rights Workers, Board Member of the Netcare Corporation, First Link, African American Advisory committee to the Columbus Public Schools, Columbus Public Schools Equity Task Force, Deceased Children Review Board of Franklin County; the African American Advisory Committee to the Columbus Museum of Art, Founding member of the Columbus Chapter of the 100 Black Men, The United Way of Central Ohio ACCORD Vision Council, the Public Deliberations Coalition and the Chair of the Ohio Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Holiday Commission, Founding member of the Holocaust Education Council, Diversity Task Force to the American Red Cross Columbus Chapter, Board Member for the American Red Cross Blood Division Columbus Chapter, Founding member of the African Community Organization of Columbus, Founding member of the International Fountain of Hope, Steering Committee Member for the Diversity Conference/The Ohio State University, Steering Committee Member on the Use Of Alcohol Student Celebration on College Campuses/The Ohio State University, Urban Scouting Program of the Boy Scouts of America, Scout Master of Troop 164 at the Second Baptist Church, Former Associate Minister of the Second Baptist Church, Steering Committee Member of the Capacity Building Collaborative for Immigrants and Refugees, Executive Director of the North Carolina Human Relations Commission, Deputy Chief of the Division of Personnel Services for the Department of Human Resources of the State of North Carolina, and Assistant Football Coach at North Carolina State University.
Jim has received numerous awards and recognition for his efforts in community service and advocacy for human and civil rights.