Who we are
Meet our team
The CCHI team is made up of faculty, staff and students from UTHealth School of Health El Paso campus, including
Leah Whigham, PhD, FTOS: Leah is the founding director of the Center for Community Health Impact and Associate Professor at UTHealth. Dr. Whigham has over 20 years of experience in obesity research, has received over $30 million in grant funding, and focuses on the impact of the environment on nutrition and physical activity to build a culture of health in communities.
Gabriela Gallegos, JD: Gabriela is an attorney, social entrepreneur, and Associate Professor at UTHealth in the Department of Management, Policy, and Community Health. She focuses on policies and programs related to healthy eating and active living as part of the CCHI, which aims to build a culture of health in communities by effectively mobilizing individuals, families, organizations, and communities. Ms. Gallegos is also involved in increasing the affordability and availability of healthy food and promoting physical activity, particularly through triathlons for adult women of color.
Juan Aguilera, MD, PhD, MPH: Juan is a physician-scientist, and Assistant Professor at UTHealth focused on reducing health disparities and advancing public health. He conducts research on the impact of environmental exposures, nutrition, and physical activity on body composition and cardiorespiratory health, particularly in at-risk populations, with the goal of influencing policy change. Dr. Aguilera aims to develop interventions, policies, and strategies to improve health and reduce health disparities in the US-Mexico border region.
Laura M. Uribarri, PhD: Laura is an Associate Professor at UTHealth Houston School of Public Health in El Paso, contributing to the growth of the MPH-Healthcare Management program. Her research interests are in environmental health and transboundary natural resource policy, with a focus on air quality. She has previously served in various roles, including as Assistant Dean for the College of Business at the University of Texas at El Paso, Vice President of Government Relations for the Greater El Paso Chamber of Commerce, Assistant to El Paso Mayor Joe Wardy, and Senior Government Affairs Representative for El Paso Electric. Laura holds degrees from Stanford University, UT Austin, and The University of Texas at El Paso.
Ginger Raya, EdD, MHA, MPA: Ginger is an Associate Professor at UTHealth's School of Public Health, with over 15 years of healthcare leadership experience. She specializes in ambulatory operations, acquisition, and employment of healthcare providers and practices. Dr. Raya is a course developer and experienced faculty member in healthcare administration, holds a Doctor of Education in Organizational Leadership, and is a co-founder of the Women's Educational Resource Entity. She has also served on several boards, including the American College of Healthcare Executives and KCOS-TV.
Erica Martinez, MA: Erica is a research coordinator who oversees study protocols, data collection, and compliance with ethical guidelines. She had experience in assessing fruit and vegetable intake and program evaluation of food initiatives. She collaborates effectively with stakeholders and seeks to improve their skills to make a positive impact in our community.