Sonyia Baring Graham
Human Resources Department, Communications Division
Being the voice of conscience, motivation, self-awareness, and well-being for others is not an easy task, but Sonyia Baring Graham took it upon herself to be that voice.
Coming from a place of empathy and speaking from the heart, Sonyia seeks to empower others at work and through her voluntarism to make sure that everyone receives the opportunities they deserve. As an honorary board member of the Safe Diversity Communities nonprofit, Sonyia uses her social media presence to promote and raise funds for senior high school students to help them attend college — and in most cases, they become the first member in their family to do so.
With an advocacy for diversity, equality, and disability, Sonyia co-founded an annual blanket and sock drive three years ago. The drives collect donations throughout the year, and Sonyia personally delivers the items to the unhoused in our community. Sonyia has been described as “the helper Mr. Rogers told us about.” No matter if it is cooking, cleaning, collecting, or promoting she is always looking for ways to give back. She is also the conversation starter who shares her own experiences to make sure everyone feels heard, included, and empowered to be their authentic selves, no matter how unique their challenges are.
Thank you, Sonyia Baring Graham, for being the voice of motivation and fairness we all need.
Letrista 'Lee' Brown
Senior Contract Administrator
Houston Public Works, Transportation & Drainage Operations
Lee Brown is a woman of action, a problem solver, and a change agent. She problem-solved her own challenging experiences and transformed them into ways to help others who face similar situations.
Seeking to help others, Lee started her own non-profit more than 10 years ago. The Savannah Community American Relief Fund, or SCARF, offers assistance to families and residents of the Savannah community during challenging times to make sure they have a helping hand, so no one suffers alone or in silence when difficult life events occur.
She has established connections with large and small businesses to ensure a safe and easy back-to-school experience for the children in the community — providing uniforms, school supplies, and free hair services. Her sincere concern for young people is also expressed through her voluntarism with the Youth Police Advisory Council, where she advises and mentors youth to help YPAC promote mutual trust and understanding between Houston kids and police.
Lee also volunteers to help distribute meals and household items to senior citizens.
Thank you, Lee Brown, for making things happen.
Real Estate Manager
Houston Public Works, Real Estate Services
Described as someone who makes you feel special, Jené Cash fully understands the meaning of friendship, not only to those who know her but to everyone she comes across. As a founder of The Girlfriends Christmas Party, she has touched the lives of hundreds by hosting an annual party for more than 20 years. Through her connections and collaborations with charitable organizations, she has brought toys to children who would’ve gone largely without. Her work has also collected and distributed toiletries to women in need, care packages for college students, and much more.
But friendship – apart from being supportive – brings others closer to the resources to build their own skills and have better opportunities. As a board member of Civic Heart Community Services ( Formerly Change Happens!), Jené seeks to empower our community's children, youth, and adults with education so they can have healthier lives, make informed choices, embrace change and thrive.
She is also a loyal friend to Links, Inc. - Missouri City Chapter, and a 20+ year member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. where she has served her community in both organizations in whatever capacity needed to provide positive and impactful change.
Thank you, Jené Cash, for being an unconditional friend.
Dr. Faith Foreman-Hays
Health Department, Office of Chronic Disease, Health Education and Wellness
Dr. Faith Foreman-Hays is one you can always count on — and not only at work during her years of service with the City of Houston. Through her many other acts and volunteerism, she has represented loyalty, resilience, innovation, and the true meaning of sisterhood. Serving Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., for 37 years at different levels and positions, she has been described as a humble person who treats everyone with dignity and respect. With a particular focus on health and wellness, as part of her sorority, she led the CDC-funded A34Life Project designed to reduce HIV/AIDS in African American communities and later developed the Walk 22 Walking Program to make sure members and affiliates have active lives. During the last few years – now as the International Women’s Wellness Liaison – she seeks to bring well-being to women and their families.
Apart from the voluntarism and initiatives she has promoted with her sorority for almost four decades, she is a dedicated supporter of the Sisters Network Inc. for African American breast cancer survivors.
In her professional life and as a City of Houston public servant, she has merged innovation with her health initiatives. Dr. Foreman-Hays has led numerous Assessment, Intervention, and Mobilization (or AIM) Projects for the Health Department over the past 15 years. And we also thank her for developing the Office of Chronic Disease, Health Education, and Wellness.
Thank you, Dr. Faith Foreman-Hays, for caring about our communities’ health and well-being.
Timoteo 'Tim' Raya
Senior Public Health Investigator
Health Department, Tuberculosis Control Bureau / Public Health Services
The best way to live is with passion. But turning this passion into the fuel that drives you to help others is a gift that Tim Raya has mastered. Tim has turned his passion for baseball into community service and has brought all his skills to the game.
Tim has been a member of the Oaks Dad’s Club for more than 20 years. He has coached for the club’s minor and major youth baseball divisions and also served as a head umpire. And, as part of the club’s board of directors, he not only shared his knowledge of baseball, but he also found the right opportunities to help in other areas such as finance, volunteer duties, advertising, and much more.
A real team player, Tim uses his skills and shares his knowledge at every level. Plus, he is a positive role model to children giving them a sense of purpose, discipline, organization, and community — values that are already directing them to a brighter future.
Thank you, Tim Raya, for being a real team player.
Human Resources Department, Risk Management
Zachary is a true example of mentorship and counseling — at work in all-important areas of safety on the job and risk management, and at his church as a pastor with the Church of God in Christ. As assistant president of the Galveston District Evangelist Department, he has volunteered his services providing counsel in matters such as relationships, finances, health, and professional success – to mention a few – and all this with the sole intention of helping those in need to develop their own skills, embrace opportunities, and become positive role models for younger generations.
Going even further to help the community – especially those in need of hunger prevention and nutritional benefits – Zachary personally stocks the food bank and distributes food to the Brazoria and Hinkle-Berry communities, where he also brings coaching and direction to young men.
Thank you, Zachary Thomas, for being an advocate for the well-being of the mind, body, and spirit.