Peggy Eighmy is the First Lady of the University of Texas at San Antonio. She is a passionate advocate for children in the foster care system and young adults with a history of foster care. Peggy has worked in child welfare and child advocacy roles in Massachusetts, Tennessee, and Texas. She conceptualized and sought public funding for the Bexar County Fostering Educational Success Pilot Project (“Pilot Project.”) The Texas Legislature appropriated $3.5M for the Pilot which works to improve college enrollment, retention and graduation rates for students with a history of foster care, and to increase the number of children in foster care who are college aware, expect to attend college, and are emotionally and academically ready to do so. This first of its kind public appropriation will inform practice and policy in Texas and nationally.
Peggy serves on the Executive Committee of the Bexar County Fostering Educational Success Pilot Project. She is a tri-chairperson for Senator Jose Menendez’s Blue-Ribbon Task Force on Child Abuse Prevention and as serves as tri-chairperson for the Child Welfare/Foster Care Workgroup of the South Texas Trauma-Informed Care Consortium. Peggy is a board member for Texas CASA, the Najim Charitable Foundation and ChildSafe. She also serves on the Family Tapestry Advisory Council, the United Way of San Antonio and Bexar County's Ready Children Impact Council, and the NXT Level Youth Reengagement Center Advisory Council. She is a Court Appointed Special Advocate and member of Impact SA, a women’s collective giving, grant-making nonprofit organization serving the greater San Antonio area.
Peggy is a first-generation American and a first-generation college student. She is a graduate of the University of Massachusetts at Amherst. She served as President of the University of New Hampshire Foundation and is an emeritus director. Her husband, Dr. Taylor Eighmy, is the President of the University of Texas at San Antonio. Taylor and Peggy are the proud parents of Hannah, a graduate of Boston College and operating room nurse at Boston Children’s Hospital.
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.
Dr. Megan Piel is an assistant professor in the Department of Social Work at The University of Texas at San Antonio. Her research focuses on improving outcomes for youth and families involved in the foster care system, with specific attention to foster youth transitioning to adulthood and post-secondary education. She has published and presented research at local, state, and national conferences regarding campus-based support programs for students with a history of foster care, lessons learned in program development and evaluation, and opportunities for enhanced support at both 2 and 4-year institutions. Dr. Piel served on the planning committee for the Inaugural National Conference for Engaged Scholarship on Foster Alumni this past February and is the Lead Evaluator for the Bexar County Fostering Educational Success Pilot Project.
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.
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.