Texas Tech University

2023 Outstanding Alumni Award Winners

Sano Blocker

Senior Vice President of Government Affairs, Vistra Corp.

Sano Blocker

Sano Blocker is responsible for congressional and state public advocacy and political affairs activities at Vistra Corp. As senior vice president of government affairs, she oversees Vistra's legislative policy initiatives and political strategy, and administration of the employees' political action committees. Vistra is a Fortune 275 energy company based in Irving, Texas. The company is the largest competitive power generator in the U.S. with a capacity of 39,000 megawatts powered by a diverse portfolio including natural gas, nuclear, coal, solar, and battery energy storage facilities. Vistra is the largest competitive residential electricity provider in the country and offers more than 40 renewable energy plans.

Previously, Blocker served a similar function as the senior vice president of state and local political affairs for Vistra's predecessor, Energy Future Holdings (EFH). Before joining EFH in 2008, Blocker was executive director of global government affairs for technology giant EDS, where she was responsible for political relations across the nation's 50 states.

Blocker is a member of the State Legislative Leaders Foundation Advisory Board and is a former board member of the National Conference of State Legislatures Foundation. Blocker served as chair of the Association of Electric Companies of Texas and sits on the executive board of the Texas Taxpayers and Research Association.

Blocker currently serves on the board of the World Affairs Council of Dallas/ Fort Worth and the National Advisory Board for Texas Tech College of Media & Communication. A proud Red Raider, she graduated from Texas Tech University with a bachelor's degree in Journalism.

R.J. Hinkle

Photographer, R.J. Hinkle Photography

R.J. Hinkle

R.J. Hinkle is a commercial food and lifestyle photographer in Dallas, Texas.

Before delving into the commercial world, R.J. devoted 13 years to photojournalism, working for a variety of newspapers and magazines as well as United Press International and the Associated Press. With more than 15 years' experience as a commercial photographer, his diverse experience has allowed him to amass an impressive body of editorial and advertising work. With a slew of experience working alone with what he can carry on his back or running large-scale productions with grip trucks, RV's, craft services & big crews, his easy, unobtrusive editorial style has garnered favor with editors, art directors and marketing folks alike. Even his frequent work with children and animals hasn't deterred him from his passionate pursuit of great images.

R.J. has a degree in Photocommunications from Texas Tech University, where he serves on the College of Media & Communication's National Advisory Board.

A Texas BBQ habitue, wannabe avid bicyclist and culinary enthusiast, R.J. lives in Coppell, Texas with his beautiful, understanding wife, two above average children and his Tibetan Terrier, Milo.

Don Williams

Sportswriter, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

Don Williams

From early childhood, Don Williams can't remember a time when he wasn't obsessed with sports -- wanting to play sports, watch sports, listen to sports on the radio and read about sports. In a home always filled with newspapers and sports periodicals, Williams knew long before he graduated from high school that he wanted a career in sports media.

He's now spent 41 years as a sportswriter, the past 35 at the Lubbock Avalanche- Journal, where he's won numerous state, multi-state region and national awards.

His work is most visible as a longtime writer on Texas Tech football. Having chronicled the team as a beat writer or columnist since 1986, he's covered more than 370 Red Raiders football games, including 22 bowls.

Williams began covering sports at age 17 for his hometown newspaper, the Tulia Herald, under editor Wendall Tooley. He then worked on campus newspapers for two years at Midland College, where he learned under former Texas Tech professor Ralph Sellmeyer, and for three years on the Texas Tech University Daily. He interned in 1986 with the Avalanche-Journal and in 1987 at the Arizona Republic, where he spent weeks covering the San Francisco Giants' Triple-A affiliate with several future and former Major League Baseball players. He graduated from Tech in 1988 with a Journalism degree and started full-time at the Avalanche-Journal.

With the visibility of Williams' sports columns at the A-J, he was recruited to Lubbock radio. He and fellow Tech graduate Ryan Hyatt hosted "The Williams & Hyatt Show" weekdays from June 1994 through December 2012.

Williams also is a voter in The Associated Press Top 25 weekly college football poll and a longtime member of the Texas Sports Hall of Fame selection committee.