Diversity Champions

Shara Hammond

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Leadership and Inclusion Manager, Marathon Oil.

Shara Hammond is the Leadership and Inclusion Manager for Marathon Oil. After joining the company in 2007, she has served in progressing HR business facing roles supporting International business units, North American onshore and offshore field operations, corporate organizations, and leading talent acquisition.  After assuming her current role in mid-2018, Shara sought out to support the continued development and evolution of her company’s culture by:

  • Building awareness of differences,

  • Strategically aligning employees’ workplace aspirations with the company’s goals,

  • Partnering to develop the behaviors that embrace diversity and inclusion, and

  • Educating employees broadly to spark sustainable pipelines of those passionate about this work.


Through her personal influence and leadership, she was able to:

  • Lead a successful grassroots effort to establish a Women’s Network, which celebrated its one year anniversary this February with over 300 employees/members,

  • Spark several aspiring ERGs,

  • Launch the leadership “Leading Boldly” series for male African American aspiring leaders and senior leaders,

  • Create internal exposure and networking opportunities for underrepresented employees through the “Meet Our Leaders” series,

  • Establish short-term and long-term opportunities by personally meeting with over 250 employees to establish the pulse of the organization,

  • Revamp and embed diversity and inclusion training into leadership development, and

  • Leverage external partnership to broadly engage employees in D&I education and allyship for internal and external initiatives.

For over 40 years in his career, Joe Bontke lived and breathed Diversity, Inclusion and Equality for all. From his experiences in the seminary, to working in various Human Resources roles and as an educator with the Disability Technical Assistance Programs in Texas, he worked tirelessly to ensure that people were aware of their rights and responsibilities in this regard. For the last 21 years in his career, Joe served as the Outreach & Education Manager and Ombudsman for the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, taking his education on Civil Rights, Diversity and Inclusion and Equal Rights to a bigger platform.


Joe was a nationally recognized speaker and in his last three years of work with the EEOC he spoke at over 800 events reaching more than 66,000 individuals. He championed the cause and advocated for the disabled, women’s equality in the workplace, immigrant rights, race equality, LGBTQ rights, religious awareness and civility in the workplace. Through his presentations, training sessions, and relationship building events, he forged wonderful working relationships with people in the Human Resources communities, Universities, Community Colleges, religious organizations and various Labor-Management groups not only here locally but throughout Texas and in other states.


In various emails and notes that Joe would close with peace and love. It is important to note that he lived this. Peace was taking the high road and not living in a negative state. Love was what he preached. Being kind, being inclusive not just in the moment, but in every instance.  

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Joe Bontke

Outreach & Education Manager and Ombudsman,

US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

HCC VAST Academy

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For almost 3 decades, HCC’s VAST Academy has worked tirelessly, to advocate for inclusion and equity for its students with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDDs) on and off campus, by providing career readiness/vocational training and comprehensive transition and support services to its students transitioning to college and employment.

VAST serves 200 students ages 18-25 at 3 College Campuses annually. A dedicated team of 22 faculty and staff work tirelessly to bring about equity for their students in the community, by providing critical supports such as: peer mentoring, tutoring, advising, person centered planning, internships and employment assistance.

VAST has developed numerous innovative and inclusive partnerships on campus such as:  Honor’s College and Service Learning Peer Mentors, Unified Sports with HCC Sports/Recreation, STEM Camps with Digital IT Center of Excellence and internships and employment with departments such as the Fitness Center and Campus Management.  In addition, VAST has developed over 50 inclusive employer partnerships including: MD Anderson, T.I.R.R., VA Hospital and The Rise School of Houston.

One of the first programs of its kind in the nation VAST Academy serves as a national model and leader in providing post-secondary training to students with IDDs receiving national, state and international recognition for its efforts to promote diversity for its students. Recognition has included awards from:  U.S. Dept. of Labor, U.S. Dept. of Education, Texas State Legislature, Texas Higher Ed. Coordinating Board “STAR Award” Finalist and most recently, The ZERO Project 2020 International Innovation Award at its Global Conference in Vienna, Austria.


VAST Academy Team:  

Sue Moraska, Director VAST Academy

Sherri Dotson, Administrative Assistant

Ana Calvo, Program Director-Transition Services

Sandra Pierce, Program Director-Employment Services

Francine Melton-Bryant, Program Director-VAST Stafford location

Lue Mims, Program Manager Operations

Dr. Brigid Wilson, Professor- Central Campus

Dr. Wren Bump, Professor- Central Campus

Lisa Abercia, Professor- NW Spring Branch Campus


Part-time faculty:

Martha Lewis

Doris Piert

Beryl Broom

Cynthia Humphrey

Dr. Angela Randall

Helen Westbrook

Olivia Broussard

Lisa Schexnayder

Tonya Pickett


Part-time Staff:

Karen Sprague, Transition Specialist

Alyse Battaglia-Gurka, Transition Specialist

Paola Esposito, Instructional Support Specialist

Yesica Ceron, Instructional Support Specialist

Elilai Barkhouse-Geyer, Instructional Support Specialist

Felton Hunt- CE Support Specialist


Work-Study Support Staff:

Vivian Morales- Teacher Assistant

Jerina Mnyapara- Office Assistant

Nicholas Townsend- Teacher Assistant