The South Texas Area Health Education Center Program Office provides administrative, fiscal, and programmatic oversight to the five regional Centers. Under the leadership of Director Janna Lesser, the aim of the ST-AHEC Program Office so to meet the goals of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) Model grant. The Program Office works with the regional offices to build region-wide network capacity and strengthen academic-community linkages.
Janna Lesser, PhD, RN. Dr. Lesser is a tenured Professor in UTHSCSA’s School of Nursing, the Director of the South Texas AHEC Program and Director of the Center for Community-Based Health Promotion with Women and Children. She has conducted community-engaged projects with individuals and communities living with a myriad of health and social inequities for over twenty years, for which she has received both internal and external funding. Dr. Lesser and works with a diverse group of target populations including inner-city dwelling adolescent mothers and fathers, disenfranchised youth (including youth in the juvenile justice system), families living in predominantly Hispanic, impoverished communities, and individuals and groups living with chronic and severe mental illness.
Sandra Duggan, MA, is Co-Director of the Center for South Texas Programs and the South Texas Area Health Education Center (AHEC) Program, a federally supported program through DHHS, HRSA’s Bureau of Health Professions. Her primary responsibilities include compliance to federal policy and regulations, program monitoring of five Centers located in Laredo, San Antonio, Lower Rio Grande Valley, Eagle Pass and Corpus Christi to evaluate performance, quality assurance and recommendation of strategies for improving effectiveness and accountability to a high standard of performance. Sandra has over twenty years of experience designing and implementing public health programs in underserved areas and with high-risk communities. Sandra Duggan has a broad background in clinical psychology with specific training in field research with families residing along the US/Mexico border. Prior to joining AHEC, Ms. Duggan, was public health analyst for HRSA and has experience writing competitive funding opportunity announcements (FOA) incorporating epidemiological trends, research and field studies, analysis of grantee data, evaluation findings and implications for policy.
Annette Zavala Idar, is the Accountant Associate for South Texas AHEC. Annette has been with UTHSCSA since 2008 working in the department of Physical Therapy as an Admissions Counselor to prospective students. Annette joined the South Texas AHEC in 2010 as an Administrative Associate and in 2014 transitioned into the role of an Accountant Associate. She performs financial insight into strategic planning for South Texas AHEC incorporating analysis of existing and proposed grant projects, trend analysis, and demographic forecasting. Interacts with the University’s computerized accounting budget systems; such as Data Warehouse, HCM, Hyperion and Enterprise Analytics. Annette received her Associates in Accounting from Northwest Vista College, and her Bachelor’s in Business Management from UTSA. Annette lives in San Antonio and enjoys volleyball and attending Spurs games.
Joe Zapata, Jr. is the Program Coordinator for the South Texas AHEC, office of Research Initiative. He is also the Program Evaluator for the South Texas AHEC, Data Coordinator for the Caring for the Caregiver Program (UT-Health SA), and Data Manager for the eDiabetes project (UT-San Antonio). Joe is a 2010 graduate of UT-San Antonio, in which he received his Masters of Science in Sociology degree. Joe started at UT-Health San Antonio in the fall of 2010 serving as the Research Specialist with the South Texas Geriatric Education Center. Joe joined the South Texas AHEC in 2015 under the direction of Dr. Deborah Parra-Medina, and currently, under Dr. Janna Lesser at the School of Nursing. Joe’s research topics of interest include: health disparities, demography, social stratification, and crime and delinquency. Joe lives in San Antonio with his lovely wife, Katherine, and two children, Zoe and Luke.
Andrea Moreno-Vasquez, MPH is the AHEC Scholars Program Coordinator for the South Texas AHEC. She is currently focused on coordinating several components of the AHEC Scholars Program, including student recruitment, developing didactic materials, managing Google Classroom, and providing program support to five AHEC Centers. She is also the Caregiver Skills Training Coordinator for the Caregiver Program at UT Health San Antonio. Andrea joined the team in December 2016 and has taken on various roles within the program office including community outreach, newsletter editor, managing social media and creating marketing content. Andrea is a graduate of UTSA and Colorado School of Public Health, where she earned her Bachelors in Community Health and Masters in Public Health, respectively. Her research interests include built-environment, environmental health, health policy, community-based research, immigration, sustainable agriculture and food production. Andrea is bilingual and bi-cultural, lives in San Antonio and enjoys biking, gardening, cooking and traveling.