August 18, 2020
M-NCPPC Commissioner Verma will represent the Planning Board on the advisory committee supporting the county’s Racial Equity and Social Justice Act
Silver Spring, MD – The Montgomery County Planning Board, part of The Maryland-National Capital Park and Planning Commission (M-NCPPC), is pleased to announce the Montgomery County Council’s confirmation of Planning Board member Partap Verma to serve on the county’s 15-member Racial Equity and Social Justice Advisory Committee. The Council approved Verma’s appointment to the committee on July 21, 2020.
As the “County Planning Board Chair’s Designee” representative, who County Executive Marc Elrich nominated, Verma joins a body of eight public members and seven county representatives. The group is tasked with developing and distributing information about racial equity, promoting educational activities and advising the County Executive and Council on these issues.
The County Council created the committee as part of its Racial Equity and Social Justice Act, 27-19, which was signed into law in December 2019 to actively address racial disparities within the county.
“As someone who grew up on the East side of the county with immigrant parents, I’m deeply humbled by this appointment,” Verma said. “It’s an honor to serve on this forward-thinking committee focused on reducing and eliminating life-and-death disparities for disadvantaged communities. As a practicing Hindu and member of the LGBTQ community – I understand the important nature of this work and I look forward to working with my colleagues across the county to dismantle systemic racism.”
“I’m confident that Partap will represent the Commission effectively in this role,” said Montgomery Planning Board Chair Casey Anderson. “In the short time he has served on the Planning Board, he has demonstrated thoughtful leadership in advancing the goals of racial and socioeconomic equity, and I know that he will bring fresh ideas and energy to the group.”
Verma, who works at the United States Department of Homeland Security (DHS) as an associate counsel focusing on privacy law and Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) compliance, was appointed to the Planning Board in July 2019.
His appointment to the Racial Equity and Social Justice Advisory Committee continues Verma’s advocacy for those who have been disproportionally impacted by inequities. When County Council members decided to appoint Verma to the five-member Montgomery County Planning Board last year, they spoke of his commitment to creating policies to serve the county’s most vulnerable residents while prioritizing transit, pedestrian safety and affordable housing. In particular, the County Council referenced Verma as a lifelong Montgomery County resident, a product of Montgomery County Public Schools, and someone who has lived experiences as a student who utilized the Free and Reduced-Price Meals program. Commissioner Verma lives in Forest Glen with his military war veteran spouse and their three children.
Creating Equity in Master Plans
Montgomery Planning along with the Planning Board have started to implement the county’s racial equity law, which directs the “Planning Board to consider racial equity and social justice impact when preparing a Master Plan.”
Since the passage of the Racial Equity and Justice Act, a Montgomery Planning staff-led work group developed a draft action plan for incorporating racial equity and social justice when preparing a Master Plan or Functional Plan, building off of initial equity in planning efforts Montgomery Planning began in 2018. One of the goals of the ensuing Equity in Master Planning Framework is to create a more holistic approach to master planning that includes equitable engagement at the beginning and throughout the master planning process.
Prioritizing Equity in Montgomery Parks
Parks are central to communities where people live, work and play. They serve a pivotal role in advancing racial equity by bringing communities together and helping break down social, racial and cultural barriers. Montgomery Parks is striving to reduce social and economic fragmentation by revitalizing and connecting public spaces for people to come together from different backgrounds. To advance that goal, Montgomery Parks is in the process of hiring an Equity Analyst to create and manage an equity strategy for the Department to help guide its efforts to better achieve inclusion in all aspects of park programs, operations, and management.
About Commissioner Verma
Verma, a certified mediator, specializes in privacy law, FOIA, agile development and alternative dispute resolution. Prior to joining DHS, he served as general counsel at the US Department of State, specializing in interagency information sharing, national security issues and immigration law. He also worked as a consular officer in Turkey and India as well as on task forces supporting crises around the world.
Prior to his appointment to the Planning Board, Verma represented Forest Glen issues at Montgomery County’s Mid-County Citizens Advisory Board as the land use chair and served on the executive board for Sierra Club Montgomery. Additionally, he served as a mediator and panel attorney for the Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs’ Commission on Common Ownership Communities. Verma is also the founder of Friends of Forest Glen and Montgomery Hills and the blog “Finding Forest Glen.”
Verma received a law degree with honors from the Pennsylvania State University School of Law in 2005 along with certificates in transnational law from Duke University and comparative law from the University of London. In 2001, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in political science from the University of Maryland.
Since his appointment to the Planning Board, Verma has provided guidance on the Thrive Montgomery 2050 General Plan update, the County Growth Policy, the Silver Spring Downtown and Adjacent Communities Plan areas, Pedestrian Master Plan, Forest Glen/Montgomery Hills Sector Plan, Interstate 495 and Interstate 270 Managed Lanes Study and more.