Ken Ulman's Biography
Your County Executive
From the first day of his administration, County Executive Ulman made a commitment to the citizens of Howard County: make good government even better.
At the time, Ulman was 32 – the youngest County Executive ever elected in Maryland. Residents responded to his energy and ideas, and on Dec. 6, 2010, Ulman was sworn in for a second term.
Ulman and his administration continue to follow through on that promise by strengthening core priorities such as public safety and education, finding efficiencies within government, exercising sound fiscal management, protecting our environment, and creating a healthier and more vibrant community.
Ulman’s leadership and the efforts of his administration have earned Howard County national accolades over the years. Howard County has been recognized in the Top 10 “Best Places to Live in America” by Money Magazine every year under the Ulman administration, and in 2010, Columbia/Ellicott City was recognized as the “#2 Best Place to Live” for its strong local economy, excellent public schools, thriving arts community, and enviable quality of life. Forbes Magazine has consistently named Howard County one of the “Best Places to Raise a Family,” and USA Today named Howard the “2nd Most Technologically Advanced County” in the nation.
The Ulman administration prides itself on making local government more responsive and efficient. In an effort to better engage with constituents, Ulman established annual public forums to give citizens an opportunity to voice their concerns and opinions. These forums have helped solve many residential issues, and have served as the impetus to changes in County legislation, transit administration and zoning regulations. Weeks after one forum, a County resident told reporters, “He (Ulman) has been able to do in two weeks what no one else has done in 34 years.”
In 2010 when the region was hit by two of the worst blizzards in decades, Ulman stayed connected with residents constantly, providing them with timely and accurate information on Facebook, Twitter, and the County website regarding road and school closures and plow schedules. According to the Howard County Times “It was as good a demonstration as we're likely to get of how Ulman and his people respond to a crisis. Would a different administration have handled it any better? We hope to never find out, but in any case we doubt it.”
Ulman’s leadership and commitment to sound fiscal management were on display as he helped guide the County through the worst economic climate since the Great Depression. Ulman has always understood that local government should lead by example and that means cutting costs where they make the most sense. In 2010 Ulman proved that Howard County could do more with less and still retain a strong quality of life for all citizens. The Administration implemented the biggest spending cuts in two decades and helped save the County millions of dollars by (among other things) eliminating the County’s cable-tv studio and print shop, reducing take-home car use by 66% and privatizing employee cell phone plans.
Protecting the Environment and Creating a Healthier Community
In his first month in office, Ulman made Howard County one of the first counties in the Country to be an active participant in the U.S. Mayors Climate Protection Agreement, a nationwide effort by local jurisdictions to reduce global warming. Ulman also created the Howard County Office of Environmental Sustainability with a mission to protect and enhance natural resources and the quality of life in our community through the conservation, preservation and restoration of our land, air and water. Additionally, Ulman initiated the transformation of the County’s fleet of vehicles to hybrids wherever possible, including Howard County’s transit operation. That early investment has resulted in hundreds of thousands of dollars in savings and a reduced carbon footprint for the County.
Among the most successful “green initiatives” spearheaded by the County Executive to date is a program that allows residents to combine all their recyclable materials in one container that is easily wheeled to the curb – the ubiquitous and popular blue bins. In four years, the Waste Management facility based in Elkridge has processed 1 million tons of material and more than 90% of Howard County residents participate in the curbside recycling program, contributing to a healthier, greener community.
In addition to focusing on environmental issues, Ulman made a very vocal commitment to public health. At a young age, he witnessed his younger brother battle and beat cancer. Driven by this personal experience and the belief that everyone should have access to affordable and preventive healthcare, Ulman and Health Officer Dr. Peter Beilenson launched Healthy Howard, a community-based initiative aimed at improving the health for those who live, work, learn, and play in our county.
In 2007, Ulman announced plans to make Howard County one of the first in the nation to offer affordable access to health care for uninsured residents. The Healthy Howard Access Plan has earned numerous awards, including the “Government Innovation Award” from the Maryland Society of Public Administration and the “Bright Ideas” award from the Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University. In 2011, Healthy Howard was recognized by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services with the “Healthy Living Innovation Award” for its health coaching model. Through the enrollment process and a program called Health E-link the County found coverage for more than 7,000 individuals who were eligible for existing state and federal programs. To date, nearly 1,600 of Howard County residents have health care coverage under the Plan.
Paving the Way for Advancements in Technology and Economic Development
Last year the Ulman Administration led the way on yet another national front – Howard County became responsible for managing $72 million of the $115 million awarded to the state of Maryland to direct the Inter-County Broadband Network (ICBN). A collaborative intergovernmental consortium comprised of 10 central-Maryland jurisdictions, including Baltimore, Anne Arundel, Harford, Carroll, Prince George’s, Montgomery, Frederick, Baltimore City and Annapolis, ICBN directly connects hundreds of public schools, libraries, public safety agencies, community colleges, and other government institutions to strengthen public safety and emergency management, enhance education, improve health care, spur economic development, increase government efficiency and expand broadband access to millions of Maryland residents and thousands of Maryland businesses.
Ulman is committed to strengthening economic development throughout the region, and continues to focus on opportunities offered by the Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC), which will bring thousands of employees and residents to Maryland and specifically Howard County. Recognizing that the base realignment efforts are expected to bring an additional 15,000 private sector jobs to the region by 2012 and that Fort Meade would also be the hub for the Department of Defense’s Cyber Command, the Ulman Administration formed the BRAC Task Force, BRAC Business Initiative, and a cyber commission to connect over 1,100 businesses and help guide them to information around job and technology growth around Fort Meade.
A Leader Throughout the State
Ulman is the Immediate Past-President of the Maryland Association of Counties (MACo), an organization that makes sure Maryland’s 23 counties and the City of Baltimore are heard when decisions are made in the state’s capital. He is a member of numerous boards including: Baltimore Metropolitan Council Board; Baltimore Regional Transportation Board; Maryland Highway Safety Foundation Board; Board of Trustees for the Greater Washington Initiative; and the Comprehensive Energy Outlook Advisory Committee. He is also a member of the Board of Directors of the Economic Alliance of Greater Baltimore and the Board of Visitors for the R. Adams Cowley Shock Trauma Center, University of Maryland Medical System. Ulman also serves as Vice-Chair of Health Policy for the National Association of Counties and is a member of the Democratic National Committee. In 2012, Ulman was elected Chair of the National Democratic County Officials, a group that is committed to improving communication between democratic officials at the level and the DNC in an effort to ensure that the local voice is heard during important policy and legislative debates.
Notable Awards and Honors
In 2011, Ulman was named “Regional Visionary” by the Greater Baltimore Committee for his innovative approach to governing and was selected as an “Innovator of the Year” by The Daily Record for his efforts with broadband. For four consecutive years, Howard Magazine readers voted the Executive “Best Elected Official.” Ulman was also named the 2009 and 2010 “Dignitary of the Year” by the American Red Cross for his Summer of Service initiative. In 2008, The Daily Record recognized Ulman and Health Officer Dr. Peter Beilenson with the “Innovator of the Year Award” for the Healthy Howard Health Plan, and Ulman was among Baltimore Magazine’s “15 Most Intriguing People of 2007.”
Howard County Roots
Ulman is a lifelong Howard County resident with roots going back to Howard County General Hospital – he was one of the first babies born there! He is a proud product of the local public school system and a Centennial High School alumnus. Ulman received his bachelor’s degree in Government and Politics from the University of Maryland, College Park, and earned his law degree from Georgetown University Law Center. He practiced estate planning and elder law and operated his own law firm while serving as a member of the County Council from 2002-2006. Today, he and his wife Jacqueline live in Columbia and are constantly on the go with their two daughters, Maddie and Lily.