Save the Date
How can we improve health?

The University of Texas System, in collaboration with UT Pan American and UT Brownsville, hosted its first VistaSummit in October of 2011, bringing together local, state, and national leaders from education, industry, economic development, policy, health, government and philanthropy. The VistaSummit reinforced the need to work collectively as a region, and three areas emerged: Education, Health, and Community Prosperity.

In April 2012, the second Summit focused on education. Educational leaders and community partners were brought together to engage in a candid, intimate dialogue with national experts and foundation and philanthropic leaders about the future of education in the Rio Grande Valley. The goal of the Summit was to develop a regional action plan with fundable projects centered on the region's greatest asset—its people. Proposed concepts presented a systematic and holistic approach to improve both access to and success in higher education by strengthening the higher education pipeline and reducing time to baccalaureate and master's degrees.

Now we turn our focus to health. Join us as Valley leaders and experts explore community-based solutions for a healthier Rio Grande Valley. The VistaSummit: Health will challenge you to consider new opportunities as collectively we continue on the path of transforming the region.

This is your opportunity to see firsthand how the Valley is addressing health issues and how you can make a difference.

Follow the VistaSummit Conversation at #VistaSummit.

agenda 9:00 AM – 3:30 PM

Download the Agenda (PDF)

Time Topic Speaker / Moderator
9:00 am Welcome Remarks Veronica Gonzales,
Vice President for University Advancement, UT Pan American, MC
Robert S. Nelsen,
President, UT Pan American
Juliet V. Garcia,
President, UT Browsville
9:20 am Chancellor's Remarks Francisco G. Cigarroa,
M.D., Chancellor, UT System
9:30 am Perspective - A National Epidemic Impacting the Rio Grande Valley
9:45 am What is working to improve health in the Valley?


  • Tina Garza, Executive Director for Curriculum and Instruction, Harlingen CISD
  • Rene Capistran, President - South Texas Region, SpawGlass
  • Rosalinda Rangel, Evaluation Specialist, Migrant Health Promotion
  • Dr. Rose Gowen, Physician & Brownsville City Commissioner
  • Dr. Belinda Reininger, Associate Professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Science, UT School of Public Health
  • Marcie Perez, Border Region Dietitian, H.E.B.
Dr. Joe McCormick,
Vice President for South Texas Programs,UTHSC-SA and
Regional Dean, UTHealth
10:30 – 10:45 am BREAK  
10:50 am Re-Creating Healthier and More Vibrant Cities Gil Penalosa,
Executive Director,
8-80 Cities
11:45 am – 1:00 pm LUNCH

Lunch Keynote (12:15 pm)
Policy Issues on Health

Anne Dunkelberg,
Associate Director,
Center for Public Policy Priorities
1:00 pm How are we preparing the next generation of health professionals in the Valley?
  • Juliet Garcia, President, UT Brownsville
  • Robert Nelsen, President, UT Pan American
  • Dr. Leo Vela, Regional Dean, Regional Academic Health Center –H arlingen
  • Shirley Reed, President, South Texas College
  • Adam Hutchison, Provost, Texas State Technical College
  • Lily Tercero, President, Texas Southmost College
  • Marla Guerra, Superintendent, South Texas ISD
Dr. Adela Valdez,
Assistant Regional Dean for Medical Education, Regional Academic Health Center – Harlingen
1:45 pm How do we address the chronic health conditions in the Valley?


  • Dr. Fausto Meza, Chief Medical Officer, Renaissance Hospital
  • Manny Vela, President and CEO, Valley Baptist Hospital
  • Doug Matney, Group Vice President, South Texas Hospital System
  • Dr. Elena Marin, Executive Director, Su Clinica Familiar
  • Dr. Joseph McCormick, Vice President for South Texas Programs, UTHSC-SA and Regional Dean, UTHealth
Dr. Ken Shine,
Executive Vice Chancellor for Health Affairs, UT System
2:30 – 2:45 pm BREAK
2:45 pm What can I do to improve health in the Valley?


  • Lupita Sanchez, Parent and Community Health Worker
  • Sanjuana Zavala, Student, UT Brownsville
  • Robert Gilkerson, Assistant Professor – Departments of Biology and Clinical Laboratory Sciences, UT Pan American
  • Eddie Olivarez, Chief Administrative Officer, Hidalgo County Health Department
  • David Guerra, President and CEO, IBC Bank
Dr. Belinda Reininger,
Associate Professor of Health Promotion and Behavioral Science,
UT School of Public Health
3:20 pm Closing Francisco G. Cigarroa,
M.D., Chancellor, UT System

Featured Speakers

Stan Jones

Gil Penalosa

8-80 Cities

Wynn Rosser

Anne Dunkelberg

Center for Public Policy Priorities

Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D.

Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D.

Chancellor of The University of Texas System

Francisco G. Cigarroa, M.D., was appointed the 10th chancellor of The University of Texas System in 2009. He oversees one of the largest public systems of higher education in the nation, with nine universities, six health institutions, and an annual operating budget of $13.1 billion (FY 2012), more than 215,000 students and roughly 87,000 employees.

A native of Laredo and nationally renowned pediatric and transplant surgeon, Dr. Cigarroa served as president of the UT Health Science Center at San Antonio from 2000 until his appointment as chancellor.

Gil Penalosa

Gil Penalosa

Executive Director of 8-80 Cities

Internationally renowned liveable city advisor and social marketing strategist, Gil Penalosa is passionate about cities for people. Gil advises decision makers and communities on how to create vibrant and healthy cities for all: from 8 to 80 years old. His focus is the design and use of parks and streets as great public places, as well as on walking and cycling for recreation and transportation.

As Executive Director of the Canadian non-profit organization 8-80 Cities for the past five years, Gil's tireless commitment to fostering healthy communities has remained front and center. Because of his unique blend of pragmatism and passion, Gil's leadership and advice has been sought out by many cities and organizations in North America and around the world.

Anne Dunkelberg

Anne Dunkelberg

Associate Director for the Center for Public Policy Priorities

Anne focuses on policy and budget issues related to health care access, as well as general issues related to immigrants' access to public benefits. She joined the Center in 1994, coming from the State Medicaid Director's Office at the Texas Health and Human Services Commission. Anne serves as a co-chair for the statewide Texas CHIP Coalition, and was honored in 2007 by Families USA in Washington D.C. as an outstanding Consumer Health Advocate, and in 2008 by the LBJ School of Public Affairs Alumni Association as a Distinguished Public Servant.

The Center for Public Policy Priorities is a non-partisan, non-profit organization whose purpose is to improve the social and economic wellbeing of low-income Texans by providing timely, credible, understandable data-based analysis, and by using that analysis to advocate for policy change. The Center's policy work includes analysis of child care, health care, hunger, and workforce/economic opportunity policy, as well as state budget and tax policy, all from the perspective of their impact on low-income Texans.


Download the Map (PDF)


Summit registration is free, but you must register below in order for us to guarantee your spot.

Online Registration has now closed. You may register on site but lunch may not be provided. 

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