New director of housing and human services begins role

Maryland

On Friday, Ramenta Cottrell finished her first week on the job filling the new role.

FREDERICK, Md. (WDVM) — Earlier this year, the City of Frederick re-envisioned their efforts in housing and human services, leading to the creation of an entirely new department and leadership role. 

On Friday, Ramenta Cottrell finished her first week on the job filling the new role.

“I always had just a passion for serving others,” Cottrell explained. “Really just having an interest in helping people is what I would say when I was younger, “I just want to help people. I want to change the world. I was 100 percent that little kid.”

And it’s that passion that leads the New Jersey native to pursue bachelor’s degrees in Psychology and Spanish from Temple University and master’s degrees in Special Education and Counseling from Arcadia University. 

In 2008, Cottrell moved to Maryland and in 2013 began a non-profit career locally with Goodwill Industries of Monocacy Valley.

“I really like to have that hands-on approach, working with people and their families, but there’s another side to working in non-profits, which is the leadership, the organization, the strategy,” she explained. “Being able to work on both sides and bring it together, I found it to be one of my strengths.”

Cottrell’s interest piqued earlier this year when Mayor Michael O’Connor announced the creation of the department of housing and human services. 

The new department branches into two sub-divisions including the Frederick Community Action Agency, which operates the city’s food bank, health clinics, and soup kitchen, and housing programs like the community development block grant.

After a months-long process to find a director to lead the department, Cottrell’s hire was announced in September. 

“Fundamental to the role is Ramenta’s belief that everyone, despite perceived disadvantages can obtain their goals with proper accommodations,” O’Connor said during the September announcement. 

Long term goals for the department including expanding housing services with a holistic approach. 

“A lot of that also comes with self-sufficiency and employment. We can have more housing opportunities, but we need to make sure that people can afford to live,” Cottrell said. 

And in the more immediate future, plans include examining current programs.

“We going to do a lot of collaborating, a lot of learning. A lot of figuring out what we want to be,” she said. 

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