Newly-formed county engagement committee to seek input from citizens, find answers, inform public

During a news conference at the county courthouse in Richmond on Tuesday, Farha Ahmad tells reporters why she wanted to serve on the county’s engagement committee. County Judge KP George stands to her right. Other committee members in attendance, from left, are Dr. Dr. Ilene Harper, Manuela Arroyos, Geetha Ravula, Terri Wang, Maryum Khan, Haad Qamar and Pastor William Starkweather

One year after Fort Bend County launched its small business grant program, many owners of small businesses are unaware they could get free federal funds to help them survive.

To help spread the word, the county launched its first-ever Community Engagement Committee on Tuesday.

Members of the all-volunteer committee, a cross-section of the diverse communities in Fort Bend County, will engage directly with citizens to find out their concerns, share information and perhaps find answers to questions they may have.

“The individuals named to the committee will serve as a community-driven advisory group tasked with developing strategies and initiatives to engage more meaningfully with Fort Bend’s diverse communities,” County Judge KP George explained at a news conference on Tuesday.

Fort Bend County is currently home to over 823,000 residents.

The community is ranked as one of the fastest-growing counties and is recognized as the most diverse county in the U.S., with nearly equal representation of the four major ethnic categories.

The Community Engagement Committee met for the first time on Monday, to discuss implementing a community engagement plan that creates opportunities for all members of the diverse community to feel welcome, celebrated, and a sense of belonging through events and other initiatives, George said.

“I am extremely encouraged with the new committee appointees, their diverse backgrounds, and communities they represent,” he said. ”This Community Engagement Committee is the next step in building partnerships throughout the county with a group of engaged citizens helping to move us all forward.”

Committee members who joined Judge George for the announcement formed a group of community leaders that included faith-based leaders, community organizers, and other leaders from such fields as education, economic development, labor, and business.

“These members will provide information and recommendations on relevant community matters and emerging issues of interest,” said George. “These volunteers are already engaged in their communities.”

Committee members attending the press conference were Farha Ahmad, Geetha Ravula, Maryum Khan, Terri Wang, Pastor William Starkweather, Manuela Arroyos, Haad Qamar, and Dr. Ilene Harper. In addition to those who attended, the following individuals will serve on the committee: Dr. Charles Odion, John Kelly, Allen Bogard, Sonya Stevenson, Gretchen Odion, Lupe Uresti Cabello, Ranjit Pillai, Natalia Alanis, and Marissa Ramirez.

“I think this committee really provides us an opportunity to ensure that we hear from the citizens and make sure we bring (their concerns) back to the county judge,” said Ahman, an attorney.

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