Meet the Team

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Joyce Akins

Director of the Center for Grants Development
Email: jakins@hcde-texas.org

Joyce Akins is the director of the Center for Grants Development. Her academic and employment backgrounds include education, research and evaluation, international relations, and nonprofits. Prior to joining HCDE, Joyce was an evaluator with the U.S. Government Accountability Office, where she researched and analyzed a variety of federally funded programs ranging from children’s preventive health care to international trade and development. She also worked with a nonprofit refugee assistance organization, participating in grant writing, volunteer management, and community development.

While at HCDE, she has helped mobilize over $60 million to enhance HCDE programs, including afterschool services, Head Start, adult education, therapy services, professional development for teachers in STEM and special education, and other activities to garner support for HCDE programs.

Joyce is an active member of the Southeast Texas Chapter of the Grants Professional association. She received her master’s in public affairs and bachelor’s degree in education from the University of Texas at Austin. She also has a master’s degree in international relations from Syracuse University.


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Alma Ochoa

Secretary
Email: aochoa@hcde-texas.org

Alma Ochoa is the secretary to the director at the Center for Grants Development and is a computer office specialist. Prior to working with CGD, she was the secretary to the director of HCDE's ABS-West campus.

She has over 20 years of experience as an administrative assistant, customer service representative and a coordinator.

With her strong interpersonal skills, she has worked in the corporate and  maritime arenas. She has interacted with a diverse workforce of professionals, clients, and contractors by providing administrative duties, monthly sales reports, quality control and quantity of landing reports, as well as inventory control. She received her associate degree from Texas School of Business-North and was awarded the President List Certification.

             


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Vida L. Avery, Ph.D.

Manager
Email: vavery@hcde-texas.org

Vida L. Avery, Ph. D. is the manager for the Center for Grants Development and has brought in over $72 million for HCDE programs and nonprofit organizations in the Houston/Harris County area. Her professional career spans 30 years in the educational field, having been a middle school teacher, a program officer at a foundation, and a grant writer. She is also an adjunct professor at Rice University.

Dr. Avery was the 2021 recipient of the M. Anne Murphy Award for Professional Advancement from the Association of Fundraising Professionals-Greater Houston Chapter (AFP-GHC) and is an award-winning author for her book, Philanthropy in Black Higher Education: A Fateful Hour Creating the Atlanta University System. She is a member of the Southeast Texas Chapter of the Grant Professional Association and AFP-GHC, where she served on the board for 10 years and chaired several committees.

She has a Ph. D. in educational policy studies with a major in higher education and a research concentration in philanthropy from Georgia State University, an Ed. S. and M. Ed. in middle school education from Brenau University and a B. A. in economics with a concentration in business administration from Spelman College.


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Sharvon Pipkins Kamaya

Resource Development Specialist
Email: spipkins@hcde-texas.org

Sharvon D. Pipkins Kamaya is the resource development specialist for the Center for Grants Development. She has 19 years of experience researching and soliciting public and private funds through proposal writing for projects focused on education, community development, health and well-being, rehabilitation, and vocational training.

Sharvon has helped government agencies, school districts, nonprofits, and faith-based organizations meet their fundraising goals, bringing in more than $200 million in public and private grants through grant-related services.

She has a master's degree in community development from Prairie View A&M University and a bachelor's degree in political science and sociology from Xavier University of Louisiana. Additionally, she is an active member of the Southeast Texas Chapter of the Grant Professionals Association.


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Venetia Baldwin

Development Coordinator

Email: venetia.baldwin@hcde-texas.org

Venetia Baldwin is the development coordinator for the Center for Grants Development. She has extensive experience managing the operations and budgets of federally funded science research teams and executing the prospect research and stewardship activities of major gifts from fundraisers in higher education.

Venetia is an adept event planner and has helped organize various fundraising events with diverse audiences to secure private donations.

She is a published writer and has a B.A. in African American Studies with a concentration in media studies from Ohio University. She is a member of the Southeast Texas Chapter of the Grant Professionals Association.

 


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Kristal Frazier

Development Associate
Email: kfrazier@hcde-texas.org

Kristal Frazier is the development associate for the Center for Grants Development. Kristal Frazier is an expert in fundraising and prospect research. As the development associate for the Center for Grants Development, Kristal evaluates numerous funding opportunities every month, assessing their competitiveness, compatibility, and capacity. 

Kristal is a longstanding Grant Professionals Association and Nonprofit Technology Network member. Kristal is a respected grant reviewer for federal agencies, the Texas Council for Developmental Disabilities, and the United Way of Greater Houston.

Kristal is a published author and award-winning keynote speaker. She earned a bachelor’s degree in sociology, specializing in grant writing, program evaluation, and community development, from Fort Hays State University.

Contact Us

  • Center for Grants Development
    Harris County Department of Education
    6300 Irvington Blvd.
    Houston, TX 77022

    Phone: 713-696-1393

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