Program team

Kristen Plastino, MD, Program Director

Dr. Kristen Plastino is a board-certified Ob/Gyn physician whose special interests include adolescent gynecology and reproductive health. Dr. Plastino has led the way in adolescent health since 2003, providing education and curriculum to adolescents and adults on the benefits of delaying sex. Dr. Plastino is a Professor at UT Health San Antonio, Long School of Medicine and is the Director of the UT Teen Health Program. Her collaborative approach includes community mobilization, stakeholder education, evidence-based sex education and best clinical practices. She has successfully led a community-wide initiative that has contributed to a 24% decrease in the teen birth rate and a 43% reduction in repeat teen births in South San Antonio while mobilizing the community to sustain teen pregnancy prevention efforts.

Jennifer Todd, JD, RN, Project Manager

Jennifer Todd has worked in teen pregnancy prevention since 2005 in the San Antonio community. She is currently a Project Manager for UT Teen Health, supervising several teams of health educators in various federally funded projects. She and her teams serve to facilitate program components between community partners, schools and clinics while guiding community mobilization, educating program stakeholders in non-legislative policy, and assisting in all aspects of the projects. Jennifer graduated with a degree in philosophy from the University of Texas at Austin, has a B.S.N. from Southern Connecticut State University, and a law degree from Yale Law School. She has experience working with federal grants, building staff capacity, and utilizing best practices to promote sustainability.

Diana Lowe, RN, Project Manager

Diana Lowe has been working in teen pregnancy prevention in the San Antonio community since 2006. She is experienced in all phases of project development and coordination and is currently contributing to various initiatives under the umbrella of UT Teen Health. Diana graduated with a degree in Biology from Hope College and has a B.S.N. from St. Louis University. She lived in Mexico City, Mexico for fifteen years and is bi-lingual, strengthening her understanding of the heritage of the predominantly Hispanic San Antonio community. Diana is married and the mother of three.

Esmeralda Jeffries, BA, NPMC, Project Coordinator, OAH Capacity Building Project

Esmeralda Jeffries has been working in teen pregnancy prevention in the San Antonio community since 2011. She is currently the Project Coordinator to build the capacity of state and local partnering organizations in their efforts towards teen pregnancy prevention. She and her team focus on youth in the foster care or juvenile justice systems, or youth who are pregnant and/or parenting.  They serve community partners by assisting them in choosing evidence-based programs, training partners to facilitate program components, and equipping partners to plan for sustainability of successful programs. Esmeralda graduated with a degree in Political Science from Our Lady of the Lake University and has a Nonprofit Management Certificate from The University of Texas at San Antonio. She has experience working with youth as a youth group leader at her church. Her experience includes work in the criminal justice system with domestic violence and sexual abuse survivors, and youth in the juvenile justice system. Esmeralda is married with two children and enjoys spending time with her family.

Nicole Dierschke, DrPH, Project Coordinator, N2K Curriculum for Youth in Foster Care 

Nicole Dierschke has worked in teen pregnancy prevention in San Antonio school districts since 2012. Currently, she is coordinating a project to test an innovative curriculum designed for youth in foster care, as well as assisting in evaluation of other projects. Her previous experience includes extensive research across diverse content areas, including clinical trials, patient safety, and military health. Her skills also include proficiency in study design, program planning, health promotion, intervention mapping, and database design. Her background in organizational behavior and capacity building assists the San Antonio community in building sustainable partnerships to implement TPP programming. Nicole graduated with a degree in Biology from the University of Dallas, has an MPH from the University of Texas School of Public Health, and a doctoral degree in Community Health Practice from the UT School of Public Health.

Gary Eells, BS, Administrative Assist. – Assoc.

Gary Eells graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a Bachelor of Science in Public Relations and Certificate in Business Foundations. His experience in communications and production has taught him to adapt to changing plans and be ready for anything. Friendly and eager to help, he provides assistance to anyone in need. He enjoys writing, drawing, and gaming.

Angela Garcia, MA, Health Educator

Angela Garcia earned a Bachelor of Arts in Biology in 2002 from Our Lady of the Lake University and completed her Master of Arts in Biology in 2004 from the University of the Incarnate Word. Much of her interest and research has been in the prevention of diabetes. She joined the University of Texas Health Science Center in 2005 as a Health Promotions Coordinator for the NIH HEALTHY Study in which she promoted the prevention of Diabetes Type 2 in middle schools. In 2009, she coordinated a diabetes risk reduction study with a local school district. Angela joined the UT Teen Health staff in 2013 and brings her experience in community outreach, leadership, and ability to work closely with school and clinical staff to enhance programs and evaluate efforts. In her spare time, she enjoys attending local art and music events.

Joette Garza-Garibay, MHA, Project Coordinator, SRA Project

Joette Garza-Garibay, earned a Bachelor of Science in Community Health from the University of Texas San Antonio and completed her Masters of Healthcare Administration from the University of the Incarnate Word. In 2007, she began her health education work with the NIH HEALTHY Study assisting with the promotion of Type 2 Diabetes prevention among SAISD middle schools. In 2009 she began working with the City of San Antonio – Metro Health, Project WORTH program as a Health Program Specialist, working with middle and high schools in SAISD, and community organizations in teen pregnancy prevention. Joette has teaching skills with grade levels 6-12, along with evidence- based program training among school districts and community partners. She also has skills working with teens in clinical settings thru the City of San Antonio Metro Health department.

Denise Lewis, BA, Health Educator, YLC Coordinator

Denise Lewis attended the University of Texas at San Antonio where she earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Communication and a minor in Sociology. Denise was born and raised on the Southeast Side of San Antonio where she attended schools in the San Antonio Independent School District. Denise has over 7 years of experience working with youth, program development and implementation throughout the city in organizations such as Family Service Association and Girls Inc. She believes that investing in the lives of the youth can change an entire community. Denise is committed to educating youth and parents on adolescent health starting in San Antonio and eventually across the globe. Denise believes that with the correct information, anyone can be empowered to live a healthy life and make wise decisions.

Bonnie Moreno, BA, Office Manager – Operations

Bonnie Moreno has a degree in Human Resources and is a master at multi-tasking. She has a background in sales, marketing and management. Her experience in the Reproductive, Endocrinology and Infertility Division of Obstetrics and Gynecology is an asset to the UT Teen Health administrative team. Bonnie has a passion for helping others. She enjoys cycling, roller skating and spending time with her three nephews.

Maria Peché, Office Manager

Maria Peché performs a wide range of ancillary duties to support UT Teen Health, ensuring a high level of professionalism and smooth operation of its day to day mission. Maria serves as the course facilitator for all Program training activities and conferences and is responsible for the logistics for these activities. Her technical writing certification and experience is instrumental in the development of training presentations, program literature and materials as well as preparing research articles for publication. Maria enjoys reading, and spending quality time with her family.

Ámbar Ríos, MS, LPC, Behavioral Health Specialist-Teen Counselor

Ámbar Ríos is a native of San Antonio. In 2003, she received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Spanish from Our Lady of the Lake University where she also holds a Master of Science degree in Counseling Psychology and Marriage and Family Therapy, a certification in Psychological Services for Spanish Speaking Populations, and a Professional Counselor’s license. She has been a member of UT Teen Health for over eight years, and is currently working full time in the joint UT Health-University Hospital System Teen Health Clinic.

William Sandburg, MA, Clinical Coordinator, OAH Replicating Project

William (Bill) Sandburg joined the UT Teen Health Program as the Clinical Coordinator in 2013. He came to UT Teen Health after closing out a five year Men’s Health Project with University Health System. Bill has an undergraduate degree in Social Work and a Master’s Degree in Family and Child Development plus he is certified as a Community Health Worker. After completing 27 years of military service Bill worked as an investigator for Child Protective Services and Program Coordinator for The Children’s Shelter of San Antonio. He brings extensive knowledge of the social services available within the San Antonio area to the UT Teen Health team. Bill and his wife, Connie, have been married for 50 years and have six grandchildren.

Carolyn Welker, BA, Health Educator, CAG/SLT Coordinator

Carolyn is a graduate of the University of Texas at San Antonio where she earned her degree in Sociology. Prior to joining the UT Teen Health team, she served as a Program Coordinator for a local non-profit that focuses on empowering girls and their parents in the East and Southeast sides of San Antonio. Carolyn’s experience includes program management, implementation and creating safe spaces. She has a special interest in creating safe and supportive environments for youth of minority populations. In her spare time, she can be found enjoying any genre of live music, binge watching some cerebral T.V. series, or hiking with her dog Lock.

Contact information

UT Health San Antonio OB-Gyn Department
UT Teen Health
7703 Floyd Curl Drive, MSC 7836
San Antonio, Texas 78229-3900

Phone: 210-567-7036
Fax: 210-567-7042