Who We Are

Gayla Rawlinson Maynard, M.A., GPC

 a nationally certified grants professional, is the director of the Center for Grants Development. She has over 25 years of experience in organizational assessment, grants development, program management, implementation and evaluation. She began her career as a licensed social worker with state agencies then worked with small community-based and larger educational institutions. Prior to coming to HCDE as its first grants specialist, Maynard worked at the University of Houston, Office of Community Projects as the Program Manager of The Funding Source and as an adjunct professor.

Meet the CGD Team:

During the past twenty years, she has coordinated proposal development processes, bringing in over $165 million to the greater Houston area. She also became the first State Representative of the Grant Professionals Association (GPA) and led the development of the first Texas chapter. This led to her currently functioning as a Regional Representative for GPA serving six Southern states. She has a bachelor's degree in social work from Stephen F. Austin State University and a master's degree in sociology/social research from Sam Houston State University.

Joyce Akins, M.A., is manager of the Center for Grants Development. Prior to joining HCDE, Akins worked for 11 years as an evaluator with the U.S. General Accounting Office and four years with a local nonprofit organization. She is proficient in reading, writing and speaking Spanish. At HCDE, she has successfully engaged corporations to support HCDE programs and helped mobilize over $15 million in funding from government and private sources. Akins has a bachelor's degree in education and a master's degree in public affairs from the University of Texas Austin.

Vida L. Avery, Ph.D., a native Houstonian, is a resource development specialist for the Center for Grants Development, Harris County Department of Education. While she previously worked closely with nonprofits, faith-and community-based organizations, she now works with educators, schools and school districts, bringing in over $70 million to the Houston/Harris County area. Her professional career spans over 20 years in the educational arena, with 10 of those years in the nonprofit sector, having been a teacher, adjunct professor, program officer at a foundation and a grant writer. She is the author of Philanthropy in Black Higher Education: A Fateful Hour Creating the Atlanta University System (2013) and co-author of Race, Gender and Leadership in Nonprofit Organizations (2011). Avery holds a Ph.D. in educational policy studies, with a major in higher education and a research concentration in philanthropy from Georgia State University; a M.Ed. and Ed.S. in education from Brenau University; and a B.A. in economics, with a concentration in business administration from Spelman College.

Sharvon D. Pipkins, M.A., is the development coordinator of the Center for Grants Development. 

She has over 12 years of experience researching and soliciting public and private funds through proposal writing for projects focused on rehabilitation, education/vocational training, health and well-being, and community service. She has helped nonprofit, faith-based and community organizations meet their fundraising goals, bringing in more than $45 million in public and private grants through grant-related services. Pipkins has a bachelor's degree in political science and sociology from Xavier University of Louisiana as well as a master's degree in Community Development from Prairie View A&M University.

Kristal Johnson is the development associate for the Center for Grants Development. Johnson worked for three years as a grant writer and researcher on projects focused on education, palliative care and community service. She is the author of The Needs Assessment: Making the Connection between Data and the Nonprofit Story (GPA Journal, 2014). Johnson holds a bachelor’s degree in sociology with a concentration in grant writing and community development from Fort Hays State University. Currently, she is pursuing a master’s degree in public administration from Texas Southern University. Johnson is a member of the Grants Professionals Association and serves as peer reviewer for the United Way of Greater Houston’s Community Building Grants program.

Illiana Gonzalez is the secretary of the Center for Grants Development.  Gonzalez comes to HCDE with 10 plus years of support staff experience.  She began her administrative support career at Harris Health System as the Administrative Secretary to the Assistant Director for the Pediatric Service Line.  She also provided administrative support to the clinic Medical Director, Nurse Manager, Program Manager, and Project Coordinators. She later moved on to become Department Secretary at Texas Children's Hospital-Medical Center for the Psychology Ambulatory Services. After two years in the medical center, she then transferred to Texas Children's Hospital - The Woodlands. She became the Administrative Assistant to the Assistant Director for Medical Ambulatory Services and multiple medical physicians for varies services.         

Contact Us: CGD staff can be reached at 713-696-1393.