The Department of Population Health is working with nine grassroots leaders, connectors and advocates – each a cornerstone of their community – to rethink strategies for meeting the health needs of underserved people and neighborhoods across Austin and Central Texas. They will build meaningful relationships, especially in underrepresented communities most directly impacted by social and health inequities and disparities.
Meet our Team Members:
Deborah Beresky is an advocate for individuals with mental health issues. A member of Austin Travis County Integral Care’s Planning and Network Advisory Committee since 2015, Beresky formerly provided services as a licensed chemical dependency counselor. Born in the Texas Rio Grande Valley, Beresky is fluent in English and Spanish. Her hometown is Elsa, Texas, and she earned an Associate Degree in Applied Science from the Technical State College of Harlingen.
Beresky has a special interest in helping people living below the federal poverty line receive medical and mental health services, having herself experienced obstacles such as homelessness and unemployment.
Alejandro Caceres works with immigrant communities to improve their daily lives by building collective power to challenge deportation policies. A native of Honduras, his mother traveled to the United States when he was two years old and returned to bring Caceres and his sisters to the country four years later. Since 2010, Caceres’ focus has been on immigrant communities in Arizona and Austin.
Kellee Coleman has more than 18 years of experience in equity and social justice community organizing, integrating media and popular education strategies for social change. She co-founded the Vibrant Woman/Mama Sana prenatal clinic which provides holistic and culturally sensitive services to lower income Black and Latina individuals. The clinic is a project of Mamas of Color Rising, where she currently works as coordinator for the group's Black Women’s initiative.
A native Austinite, Coleman earned an Associate of Arts from Austin Community College and a Bachelor of Arts from St. Edwards University. Coleman has conducted training on health equity issues, researched social determinants of health as they impact Black women, and consulted with national organizations on community organizing and reproductive justice issues. She is a Foundation Communities board member, advisory committee member with the Free Minds Project, and a member of INCITE! Women, Gender Non-Conforming, and Trans People of Color* Against Violence.
Priscilla Hale is the Executive Director of allgo, an organization that works to create and sustain queer people of color, activists, groups, organizations, and allies through artistic expression, wellness promotion, and grassroots organizing. Hale has experience in HIV/AIDS case management, community organizing, production of cultural work, nonprofit administration, and program development and implementation. An East Austin native, her family has been in the Austin area for seven generations.
Hale earned her Masters of Science in Social Work from Our Lady of the Lake University and her Bachelor of Arts in Social Work from St. Edward’s University. She has served on the Women's Rising Projects advisory board since 1998.
Carmen Llanes Pulido
Carmen Llanes Pulido is the Community Director for GO Austin/VAMOS Austin in Dove Springs, a place-based and resident-led public health initiative improving access to healthy food and physical activity opportunities for families in Southeast Austin. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in environmental studies from the University of Chicago and then served as a research analyst and organizer for an environmental justice organization, PODER, in East Austin.
Llanes Pulido also ran an innovative community organizing-based health intervention at Marathon Kids. An Austin native, she serves on the city’s Hispanic/Latino Quality of Life Resource Advisory Commission, is a member of advisory boards for Urban Roots and Planned Parenthood of Greater Texas, organizes trainings with Undoing Racism—Austin, and is an inaugural member of Austin’s Independent Citizens Redistricting Commission.
Esther Chung Martin
Esther Chung Martin is Executive Director of the Asian American Resource Center Nonprofit, an organization that focuses on health, education and cultural arts for the Asian American community in Austin. She was also the first Asian American Community Archivist for the Austin History Center. Martin earned her Masters of Science in Social Work from The University of Texas at Austin and a Bachelor of Arts from Southern Methodist University.
She has more than 12 years of experience in nonprofit administration and community outreach and is a certified project management professional. She also co-founded the Asian Behavioral Health Network which promotes mental health training and services in the community, and she serves on the board of the city’s Asian American Employee Network. Martin grew up in Houston but has called Austin home for the last 18 years.
Lilliana Cardona-Martinez started her career in healthcare more than 20 years ago as a pharmacy technician. She is currently Program Coordinator for the David Powell Clinic, where she helps both insured and uninsured patients access treatment for HIV, Hepatitis C and other high-cost medications. Born in Del Rio, Texas, Cardona-Martinez moved to Austin to earn her Bachelor of Arts in Mexican American Studies while completing pre-pharmacy course work at The University of Texas at Austin.
Previously, she worked in pediatrics, oncology and HIV care. She volunteers with various organizations across the community.
Marva Overton is Executive Director of the Alliance for African American Health in Central Texas, a non-profit organization that engages community members to addresses health issues that disproportionately impact African Americans. She grew up in Memphis, Tennessee, and earned a Bachelor of Science from Vanderbilt University and Masters of Business Administration from The University of Texas at Austin. She serves as chairperson for the Planning and Network Advisory Committee of Austin Travis County Integral Care and a community advisory council member for the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement at UT Austin.
Overton is also a member of the Physical and Mental Health Committee and Early Childhood Literacy Program for the Austin Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., the Pedestrian Advisory Council for the City of Austin, and the Blackland Neighborhood Association. Previously, she worked in Human Resources and was an Information Technology consultant with IBM.
Molly Wang is a Licensed Professional Counselor and mental health educator. She leads cultural competency efforts at Austin Travis County Integral Care where she was previously a behavioral health program manager and intake counselor. She is also a mental health first aid instructor. Wang earned her Master of Education from The University of Texas at Austin and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Clark University with a minor in Asian Studies.
Born in Fuzhou, China, Wang immigrated to the US when she was five, identifies as Chinese American and is bilingual. She has a longstanding interest in how people develop their cultural identities, and she researched the influence of cultural identity on decision-making while at both The University of Texas and Clark University. She continues to apply this knowledge in her work at Integral Care and in the community.
Paula X. Rojas
Paula X. Rojas is a community organizer, licensed midwife and social justice trainer. For more than 20 years, she has worked on issues of gender violence, racial justice, women’s reproductive health, childcare access, healthcare access and police brutality. Rojas was a national trainer for INCITE! (Women of Color Against Violence) and co-founded a number of community-based organizations including Mamas of Color Rising, Refugio-Center for Community Organizing and the New York Organizing Support Center.
Born in Chile, Rojas grew up in Houston and later worked in Chile and New York City. Currently, Rojas is a trainer with the national organization Embody Transformation and works with the local organization Mama Sana/Vibrant Woman. She joined the Department of Population Health in April 2016 as a consultant to help develop and implement a strategy to meaningfully engage communities that are underrepresented within institutions and most directly impacted by health inequities.