UTSA First Lady Peggy Eighmy has been heavily involved in a state-funded UTSA program, the Fostering Educational Success Center (FESC), which started at the university in fall 2019 thanks to an innovative pilot program of which Peggy was a leader and major proponent. This Fostering Educational Success pilot program has partnered with the Bexar County Children’s Court – through what’s called the “College Bound Docket” – to improve college readiness for youths still in care using specialty court review hearings that focus on their educational interests and goals.
For students already enrolled in college, the pilot program has established Fostering Educational Success Centers such as the one at UTSA – physical spaces on campus with full-time staff that offer myriad resources to foster care alumni, including academic support services and emergency funds.Partnering with the FESC is the Early Start Experience; another program that Eighmy has been heavily involved with.That program, which received a 2019 High Impact Grant from Impact San Antonio, is a six-day orientation session designed to help former foster children transition into university life.Peggy and her husband, UTSA President Taylor Eighmy, have one daughter, Hannah, a NICU nurse at Children’s National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.
Dr. Tammy Wyatt
Dr. Tammy Wyatt attended Sam Houston State University, Texas State University, and the University of Texas at Austin for her undergraduate and graduate degrees. Dr. Wyatt served as the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Student Success in the COEHD (2009-2012), the inaugural Associate Dean for University College (2012-2016), the Associate Vice Provost for Student Success (2016-2018), and the Associate Vice President for Student Academic Success (2018-2019).
Currently, Dr. Wyatt serves as the Vice Provost for Student Success (2019-present). In this role, Dr. Wyatt serves as the chief student success officer for the university and oversees multiple university-wide student success programs and initiatives within the realms of academic advising, academic success and support, and student engagement and belonging. Additionally, she serves as the PI for two UT System Quantum Leap student success funded projects - (1) Project LEAD (Leadership, Engagement, Academics, and Dedication): Onboarding and Bridging to Improve Student Success, Retention, and Graduation and (2) Resolving Roadblocks to Timely Graduation: Implementing Graduation Help Desks across the University of Texas System.
Airika Buford is a dedicated macro practice social worker with over 10 years’ experience in child welfare case management; program development, nonprofit management, outreach, recruitment, and retention of underserved populations. Mrs. Buford has a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Wayne State University and an MSW from the University of Michigan-Ann Arbor and was a Community-Based Initiative Scholar focusing on Community Organizing in Communities and Social Systems. She has macro practice experience in community organizing in urban settings; program evaluation, & policy analysis, and expert knowledge in advocacy, quantitative and qualitative research, and data analysis.
Mrs. Buford’s research, practice, and policy interests include improving the educational trajectory of system-involved (foster and juvenile justice) youth especially of boys and young men of color. Airika worked for 4 1/2 years as a Foster Care Specialist for the State of Michigan in Macomb County and then served as the Communications and Outreach Coordinator for the CHAMPS Program at Wayne State University for 5 years.
Currently, Mrs. Buford is the Project Director for the Bexar County Fostering Educational Success Program in San Antonio, Texas; a two-year, $3.5M legislative appropriation, aimed to improve pre-college preparation, college access and higher education retention for students with lived experience in foster care.
Airika is a member of UTSA’s Black Faculty and Staff Association and currently serves on Up Partnerships’ Financial Strategic Alignment Taskforce: Successful in College/Career-Focused Working Group, the Children’s Commission Dual Status Task Force Agency Coordination & Transition Planning Workgroup, and the San Antonio Chapter of My Brother’s Keeper (MBKSA) Policy Roundtable.
College Bound Docket
Barbara Schafer is the current court administrator for Bexar County Children’s Court Division & Programs. Barbara has worked in the field of child welfare her entire career, first as a caseworker and supervisor at Child Protective Services, Family Drug Court Director and now Court Administrator. Barbara has a Bachelor’s in Psychology and Sociology; certification in criminal justice; certification in domestic and family violence and a Master’s in Social Work.
Barbara applies expert knowledge, experience, and passion to help children.
Barbara works within the community and government officials to develop and initiate innovative programs for youth and families in the foster care system. Barbara has developed and implemented Infant and Toddler Court, Family Preservation Docket, PMC Project, PEARLS Court, College-Bound Docket and Guardianship Docket. Additionally, Barbara has fulfilled the standards of best practices to the existing Family Drug Court and Children’s Court which has a docket of more than 10,000 court hearings a year.
Allison Martinez is the current Vice President of Programs at Child Advocates San Antonio (CASA). She leads a team of 27 program staff and more than 600 volunteers to advocate for the best interest of abused and neglected children in the foster care system.
Allison has a passion for working with children and ensuring that they are given every chance and opportunity for a bright future. Allison has worked at CASA for the last 9 years in multiple roles. Prior to CASA she was a CPS investigator for 3 years in Bexar County. Allison has her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of North Florida.
Dr. Mari Fuentes-Martin
Texas A&M University-San Antonio welcomes Dr. Mari Fuentes-Martin as the new VP of Student Success and Engagement (VP-SSE). Mari will bring to this reconfigured role a record of excellence in executive leadership and an administrative acumen that will guide our next generation of student success and engagement.She will lead the University’s development of student success and engagement strategies and enhance the resources, activities, and services supporting student affairs, as well as link the collection, assessment and use of data to establish and inform best practices across the institution to effectively support student success and engagement.
Currently, Mari serves as a school evaluator for the Middle States Commission of Higher Education. Her professional accomplishments also include participation in the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities Kellogg MSI Fellows Program, the Foundation for Women’s Resources Texas Leadership Class of 2005 and the Texas A&M University System Chancellor’s 21st Century Council Fellowship for Doctoral Studies in Educational Leadership. She earned a Doctorate of Education from Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, as well as a Master’s of Science in Administration and a Bachelor of Arts (History/Business Administration) from the University of Notre Dame.
Annette has dedicated the last 20 years to the Texas nonprofit sector—working to improve the lives of children and families in her community. She joined The Children’s Shelter in September 1997 and became President/CEO in 2011.
Serving as the President/CEO of The Children’s Shelter, the organization directly serves over 5,100 children and parents annually. Under her leadership, the agency continues to be nationally accredited by the Council of Accreditation offering residential and foster homes for youth in the foster care system, parenting programs that include the Nurse Family Partnership and Compadre Y Compadre, a fatherhood program. Since becoming CEO in 2011, she has led the agency through a rebranding and community awareness campaign, launched a successful $4 million dollar Capital Campaign to create the Harvey E. Najim Children’s Hope Center, a trauma specific mental health clinic serving children and youth suffering from trauma. In addition, The Children’s Shelter became the first south Texas organization certified as a fully Trauma Informed agency in 2015.
With a commitment to children and youth, in 2004, Annette founded Girls Inc. of San Antonio, under the auspice of The Children’s Shelter. The organization was offered to girls age 5 to 18 in over 30 sites across the city. The San Antonio affiliate created and implemented nationally and state recognized programs; Girls University-a Summer Camp for girl’s ages 8 to 12 years of age, focused on career development, character building and self-empowerment and Girls “Rockit to the Future” Science Festival, a program focused on science, math, engineering and technology-both programs continue to this day. Annette represented Girls Inc. of San Antonio in the Girls Inc. National Latina Initiative as a Board Member, Presenter and Panelist.
Looking to implement systemic change that impacts children and youth, in 2018, The Children’s Shelter was awarded the Single Source Continuum Contractor (SSCC) contract for Bexar County, positioning the organization as the lead agency to privatize the foster care system in Bexar County and transform the foster care experience for children and youth. Annette raised $7.28 million dollars within 6 months to help support the start-up of the contract.
Annette Rodriguez is a native of San Antonio. She graduated from Our Lady of the Lake University where she received her Bachelor of Arts in English and her Master of Science in School Psychology. In 2009, she received her Executive MBA degree from the University of Texas at San Antonio. She currently sits on the board of the following organizations: Texas Alliance for Children & Families and The Alliance for Strong Families & Communities.
Dr. Melissa Mahan is the Vice President for Education and Foster Coaching at Family Tapestry, a division of the Children’s Shelter. She directs the Life Program and foster coaching in partnership with the Bexar County Fostering Educational Success Pilot Project. She also works with local school districts to support the educational attainment for youth with a history of foster care.
Prior to joining Family Tapestry, Dr. Mahan held roles in University Administration as the Vice President for Student Affairs and the Executive Director for Henry G. Cisneros Institute for Emerging Leaders at Texas A&M University-San Antonio and as the Associate Dean of Student Affairs at Northeastern State University. Dr. Mahan also spent a time working in the corporate world as an accountant and a company controller. Additionally, Dr Mahan speaks around the world on leadership development and student success strategies for under resourced students.
Dr. Mahan earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from Northeastern State University, a Master of Science degree in Business Administration from Southern Nazarene University and a Doctor of Philosophy in Adult Education and Human Relations from Oklahoma State University.
Alamo Community College District
Dr. Adelina Silva
Dr. Adelina Silva is the Vice Chancellor for Student Success for the Alamo Community College District (ACCD). She has held several positions in her 40+ year career with the Alamo Colleges District as counselor, founder and director of the San Antonio College Women’s Center, project director for federal programs in student services, Vice President of Student Services at Palo Alto College, District Director of Student and Community Program Development and District Vice President of Student Program Development.
Dr. Silva is the first Hispanic female Vice Chancellor in the Alamo Community College District, home of SAC, where she earned an Associate of Arts Degree. She is a Summa Cum Laude Bachelor’s degree graduate of Texas A & I University at Corpus Christi and holds a Doctoral degree in Educational Administration in Community College Leadership from the University of Texas at Austin, where she was a member of the Phi Kappa Phi Honor Society.
Dr. Silva has presented extensively on leadership, student development, advising, and equity. Her research and publications include career choices of returning women in community colleges.