In this Q&A, Region Forward Coalition Chair and Prince George's County Council Chair Dannielle Glaros discusses the ways her committee is working to ensure area residents have access to opportunity regardless of where they live.
What brought you to metropolitan Washington?
I grew up in Baltimore County, Maryland, then went to college at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. After college, I worked in the Midwest for several years before a job opportunity brought me to the District of Columbia. I started my Master’s Degree in Public Policy at University of Maryland, College Park. On my reverse commutes from the District to College Park, I fell in love with the communities along the Baltimore Avenue corridor. After my husband, Steve, and I got married and decided to purchase a house, we started looking in those communities—Hyattsville, College Park, etc.—and eventually purchased a historic home in Riverdale Park. Walking distance to a Metro station, access to biker-hiker trails, and other walkable amenities were important factors in this decision. What I enjoy most about this region, especially my community, is the diversity and its wonderful residents.
How did you get into public service?
I never thought about running for elected office, but have always been active in the community through volunteer work. I had the opportunity to work for Prince George’s County government as the Chief of Staff to former District 3 Council Member Eric Olson for eight years. Because of term limits in Prince George’s County, Council Member Olson’s seat was open in 2014. After being asked and encouraged by many residents, I decided to run for the seat as a way to continue to serve the residents of District 3 who I had come to care about so deeply and to bring to fruition key projects, such as the Purple Line.
What are the region’s biggest challenges?
The stratification of wealth across jurisdictions and growing inequality across the region are some of our largest challenges. I find that often the assumption is that access to opportunities is equal across jurisdictions or even across neighborhoods, when that is simply not the case. A recent Washington Post article about meal delivery options and recent episode on The Kojo Nnamdi Show about banking deserts are just two examples of that. Many communities in our region experience deep gaps in services from housing, to schools, to access to public transportation, to grocery stores, to banks, to access to technology, while others experience an abundance or take those services for granted. Because of this, a large part of Region Forward’s work this year is to focus on equity. As we grow our economy regionally, we need to ensure we are truly lifting up all members of our community. We need to ensure we bridge the growing inequality.
What are some ways that your work through Region Forward this year is bettering our region?
COG's Region Forward Vision focuses on creating a more prosperous, accessible, livable, and sustainable metropolitan Washington. The Region Forward Coalition is leading the effort to turn these big goals into better communities. Through Region Forward, we have the opportunity to bring together different members of our community and jurisdictions to look at how we can prosper and grow together. In particular, this year with Region Forward we are using a lens of equity throughout all our discussions, meetings, and presentations to think more deeply about the goals that were established. We are looking to see if these goals need to be tweaked or augmented to achieve outcomes in all of our communities that ensure that everyone has a place at the table.
How does Prince George’s County benefit from membership with COG?
The recent progress on building the consensus in the region and the state of Maryland around restoring confidence in the Metro system, and the regional commitment to long-term dedicated funding, is a prime example of the importance of COG. A great deal of the groundwork and discussions for the level of multi-jurisdictional cooperation to determine a funding formula that ensures the long-term viability of WMATA, and the world-class transportation system our residents want and deserve, occurred through COG. This regional commitment is of vital importance to Prince George’s County. COG is tremendous at pulling together resources, and ensuring that regional leaders are collaborating and partnering as much as possible to achieve best for all residents. There is immense value in a body of people coming together to talk about issues that affect the region.