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Driven by Personal Tragedies, Brenda Howerton Aims to Improve the Future

County Commissioner, Durham County, N.C.

Brenda Howerton WIG
Brenda Howerton
(David Kidd)
Since Brenda Howerton was first elected as a county commissioner in 2008, she has spent much of her time and energy focusing on children’s issues, including expanded pre-K and a special social services program for children affected by trauma.

Now, after recently taking over as president of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners, she plans to tackle the issue statewide, launching a task force aimed at coordinating efforts across county governments and partner organizations.

Part of her passion for the issue stems from personal loss: Two of her sons were shot and killed in separate incidents in the 1990s. “It shaped my thinking about how we treat one another,” she says.

She represents a county experiencing a period of rapid growth, but with it have come growing pains around housing, schools and workforce development. That led Howerton, who also works as a career coach for private-sector executives, to push the county to establish its first long-term strategic plan. “What I do today is not about me,” she says. “It’s about people in this community and my children and grandchildren.”

Read about the Women in Government program and the rest of the honorees.

Natalie previously covered immigrant communities and environmental justice as a bilingual reporter at CityLab and CityLab Latino. She hails from the Los Angeles area and graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in English literature.
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