The Equitable Vaccination Acceptance and Distribution Project (VAX HOU)
The Equitable Vaccination Acceptance and Distribution project, or VAX HOU, is a grant-funded initiative by the Rockefeller Foundation to increase vaccine equity in Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) and low-income communities around the city of Houston. Our team is working with the Houston Health Department (HHD), the Houston Health Foundation (HHF), and the Mayor’s Health Equity Response (HER) Task Force to facilitate four vaccine distribution events a month in Houston’s Complete Communities.
Esther Bonojo - Project Manager
Esther Bonojo is the project manager for the Equitable Vaccine Acceptance and Distribution of the Complete Communities, i.e., the VAX HOU project. In this role, Ms. Bonojo manages and leads a team providing all aspects of the grant’s key performance indicators. Drawing on her several years of experience in health prevention outreach with the Stroke Transition Education Prevention team at UT Health, Ms. Bonojo is a big believer in advocating for health and education equity for members of underserved backgrounds. Esther Bonojo supports the Mayor’s Office of Complete Communities in building a legacy of equity through this initiative. Esther is a qualified project manager and holds a Bachelors of Sciences degree in Biomedical Science and a minor in General Business from Sam Houston State University. Ms. Bonojo plans to further her education by pursuing a Doctor of Medicine degree and ultimately practice community-based medicine in underserved communities.
Hannah Ruck - Project Coordinator and Community Liaison
Hannah Ruck serves as a community liaison and project coordinator for the Equitable Vaccine Acceptance and Distribution of the Complete Communities, i.e., the VAX HOU project. Ms. Ruck opens the line of communication between community organizations, community residents, and stakeholders, to get projects done. Ms. Ruck’s varied background in public health and study of the Spanish language and culture abroad provided the perfect foundation for her to connect closely with the diverse residents of the Complete Communities of Houston. Ms. Ruck holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Spanish from the University of Texas, Austin. Ms. Ruck plans to further her education by pursuing a Master’s degree in Health Education and Promotion.
Shannon Buggs - Director, Mayor's Office of Complete Communities
Shannon Buggs, an experienced communicator and administrator, is the first director of the Mayor’s Office of Complete Communities. In this role, Buggs develops strong collaborative relationships with neighborhood residents, City of Houston departments, other government agencies and officials, private donors, and non-profit organizations to fulfill the Complete Communities Action Plans. Mayor Sylvester Turner launched the Complete Communities initiative to demonstrate how public, private and non-profit partners can revive neighborhoods with the guidance of their residents. The Complete Communities division ensures that projects identified through a public engagement process are implemented, funded and managed efficiently.
Buggs previously worked as director of community and public relations at The Woman's Hospital of Texas, director of communication for the University of Houston’s College of Liberal Arts & Social Sciences, and business columnist and reporter for the Houston Chronicle. She also served as the founding executive director of Culture Source, Inc. (formerly CultureWorks Greater Houston), a fiscal sponsorship and management consulting nonprofit. A Houston native, Buggs is a longtime supporter of the city’s nonprofit sector and has held volunteer leadership positions with the Harvey Arts Recovery Fund, Houston Arts Alliance, Writers in the Schools and other arts and public service organizations. She is a senior fellow of the American Leadership Forum and an alumna and former trustee of Episcopal High School in Bellaire. Buggs earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and American Literature from Harvard University, a Master of Science degree in journalism from Northwestern University, and a certificate in financial planning from the University of Houston.
Dr. Faith Foreman-Hays - Deputy Assistant Director, Houston Health Department
Dr. Faith Foreman is Deputy Assistant Director of the Houston Health Department, a seasoned public health practitioner and academician with more than 20 years of community and coalition building experience. She began her career as a nurse in the public hospital system and worked as a neonatal nurse caring for at-risk mothers and infants. In 2013, Dr. Foreman was tapped to lead the Cities Changing Diabetes (CCD) Global Public-Private Partnership aimed at reducing the burden of diabetes in urban populations. An expert in public and community health promotion, evaluation, and planning, Dr. Foreman has led the design, implementation, and evaluation of numerous health interventions at the local, state, and federal levels. She has managed staff in public and not-for-profit health centers and led multi-disciplinary teams in conducting large-scale community assessments and public health interventions. As the Deputy Assistant Director of the Houston Health Department, Dr. Foreman leads a dynamic team of nurses, health educators, wellness professionals, community health planners, and dieticians. She led the acquisition of the health department’s 501(c)3 IRS designation and the development of the Houston Health Foundation. Dr. Foreman has a particular passion for eliminating health disparities among marginalized communities and strives to bring social justice and equity to the delivery of preventive health services. Raised and professionally trained in the City of Houston, Dr. Foreman earned her Master of Public Health and Doctor of Public Health degrees from the University of Texas School of Public Health and her Bachelor's degree in Sociology from Texas Southern University. She was also a National Institutes of Health Fellow. Dr. Foreman is licensed to practice nursing in the state of Texas.
Janice Weaver - Director of Community Relations, Mayor's Office Health Equity Response (HER) Task Force
Janice Weaver is the Director of Community Relations for the City of Houston and Mayor Sylvester Turner's Health Equity Response (HER) Task Force. Previously, she served as Executive Assistant & Office Manager for Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (18th Congressional District of Texas) and earlier retired from AT&T after twenty four years of faithful service. Director Weaver loves dedicating her time volunteering in the community throughout the Houston area with several organizations including: the United Way, Aldine Youth Center, St. Monica Youth Sports Ministry, Acres Home Youth Association, Grove Community Outreach, For His Glory Ministries, Fr. Alphonsus Kidney Foundation, NAACP, LCLAA, A. Phillip Randolph Organization, LULAC Board Member for Houston Area Community Services (HACS), Gospel Music Heritage Committee, Precinct Judge #0698, Telephone Pioneers and the African American Chamber of Commerce of Greater Houston. Janice is also President of One Body Networking and Vice-President of JA’SENGA Executive Travel Services. Through her nonprofit Janice has hosted many Blood Drives in partnership with Gulf Coast Regional Blood center, TWEF and Methodist Hospital saving hundreds of lives. One Body Networking provides scholarships to underserve students in and around the Houston area. As a native Houstonian, Director Weaver attended Kashmere Senior High School and Houston Community College.
Susan Christian - Director, Mayor's Office of Special Events
Susan Christian is Director of the Mayor’s Office of Special Events (MOSE) in Houston, Texas, and has been a member of the city’s team since, 1985. Through her dynamic leadership of more than 33 years, Director Christian has spearheaded the city’s commitment and celebration of quality civic events reflecting the rich cultural diversity of Houstonians. While embracing public and private partnerships, Director Christian has developed the city’s year-round Civic Celebration Program. This program produces and permits over 2,000 event days annually, including neighborhood and city-wide events with an average yearly attendance of over 10 million people. In her quest for efficiency and transparency, Director Christian developed the City’s Special Events Ordinance, Chapter 25, which is one of the most contemporary ordinances in the nation. Director Christian has also produced several televised events, most recently the 2017 World Series Astros Parade and memorial tributes for both Former President George H.W. Bush and Former First Lady Barbara Bush. Video from the memorials will be archived in the Bush Presidential Library at Texas A&M University. A recipient of numerous awards and honors, Director Christian has served under six mayors and holds a BFA in Theatre from Texas Christian University.
Guilmate Pierre - Division Manager, Houston Health Department
Guilmate Pierre is a seasoned Public Health practitioner with experience in both small cities and large urban areas. Ms. Pierre has a specialized interest in preventive health interventions, health program planning and development, evaluation, health communication, policy development, grant writing, and translational research. Ms. Pierre is currently the Division Manager for the Houston Health Department’s the Office of Chronic Disease, Health Education and Wellness, responsible for program operation and performance, partnerships, and workforce development. In emergent situations, Ms. Pierre is trained to respond in various roles including Planning Chief, Operations Chief, and Incident Command. Ms. Pierre is a public servant guided by integrity, quality, and cooperation, Ms. Pierre applies equity, data-informed, and evidence-based approaches to promote and protect the health and social well-being of Houstonians. Ms. Pierre currently has her Master of Public Health, Community Health Practice from the University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston. She completed her Post-Graduate Fellow in Health Disparities Research at the University of North Texas Health Science at Fort Worth. Ms. Pierre is a Master Certified Health Education Specialist (MCHES) and speaks English and Haitian Creole. For a closer look at the many resources offered under Ms. Pierre’s leadership visit Houstonhealth.org and Gohealthyhouston.org