Diversity Champions

Deborah Wilkins Buford

Senior Equal Opportunity


Shell Oil

Deborah has been working with Shell Oil Company since 1997.  In total, she has almost 40 years of varied Human Resources experience in employee relations, diversity management, facilitation and training, and Equal Employment Opportunity (EEO).

Her Diversity and Inclusion (D&I) experience includes leading regional and global development and implementation of D&I plans and providing strategic guidance to staff, senior and mid-level management regarding D&I issues. In addition to past roles as the Regional and Global D&I Manager for Shell’s IT and Global Solutions businesses, she also served as in Shell’s Global D&I Practice as a Global Diversity and Inclusion Consultant, where she supported all of Shell’s businesses in the Americas and designed and facilitated D&I interventions at a regional, country, or organizational level. 


In her current role, she is responsible for EEO compliance, including proper implementation of employment law and appropriate responses to inquiries from government agencies.  She also has nationwide oversight of Shell’s 10 US Employee Resource Groups and recently led efforts to refresh and restructure the groups to improve their overall business focus.

Deborah graduated from the Pennsylvania State University with a Bachelor’s degree from the College of Human Development. She’s held professional HR certification since 1993 and completed the NTL Institute’s Diversity Practitioner Program in 2006.  She resides in Sugar Land, TX with her husband, Gordon and their Westie, Puddles.

Ali was born and raised in Missan, Iraq.  He holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering from Basrah University.  In 2003, he began working as Chief Translator with American and coalition forces.  After receiving threats during this time, he left Iraq. In April 2009, with the help of Interfaith Ministries, he was resettled as a refugee in Houston, TX.  Ali then joined IM as a Reception and Placement Case Worker in June 2009, by May 2010 he was promoted to Director of Refugee Services.


Currently, Ali serves as Senior Vice President for Programs and Chief of Staff overseeing all of IM’s programs including Refugee Services, Meals on Wheels, Interfaith Relations, and Volunteer Houston.  Prior to joining IM, he was Senior Program Coordinator for “People in Need”. He became a Certified Trainer in Capacity Building with the Czech Fundraising Center administering medical and Capacity Building funded projects in Iraq.


Ali knows first hand the refugee experience, as he himself fled his home country of Iraq and now has helped to resettle an average of 1,500 refugees a year in Houston, the majority of them Cuban, Iraqi, Afghani, Eritrean, Sudanese, Congolese, Somali, Burmese and Bhutanese. “Houston is the most welcoming city to refugees,” Ali boasts of his adopted hometown, which, if it were a country, would rank fourth in the world for refugee resettlement…,” he says.


Throughout his tenure at IM, Ali has hired, developed and supported a team of staff that is the most culturally and ethnically diverse of all of our service areas. Ali’s team receives consistently glowing feedback from our funders and partners on how well they serve our refugee clients, how dedicated and accommodating they are, and how our refugee program serves as an excellent example for other programs across the country. Ali’s team is an inspiration within IM for the ways they continuously collaborate, treat one another with kindness and respect, and maintain positivity and optimism in the face of any challenges they may face. Ali’s leadership is a key reason that his team is so resilient and successful.

Ali Al Sudani

Senior VP for Programs and

Chief of Staff,

Interfaith Ministries Greater Houston

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