Our Team

Meet Our Team  

Christine Varela Mayer, PhD

Chief Executive Officer
Christine was awarded her Doctorate in Psychology from the School of Behavioral Health and Sciences at Northcentral University, earned her Master of Arts in Behavioral Science at the College of Human Science & Humanities, University of Houston Clear Lake, and received her undergraduate Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science and Speech Communications at Baylor University.

She is a published author and lecturer, and 2015 Dissertation of the Year Nominee, and is credentialed with the Texas State Board of Examiners of Psychologists and the Texas Certification Board of Addiction Professionals as a Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor.  Her research endeavors include the study of post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms of depression and somatization as moderators to academic self-concept theory; stigma and barriers to care among Army Combat Medics; and pre-existing risk and enhancing protective factors of Army soldier medics during training.  

From a clinical perspective, she has considerable experience facilitating group, individual, dialectical/cognitive behavioral, and brief therapies.  She appreciates a client-centered approach and holds fast to the premise that a climate of unconditional positive regard, empathy, and genuine compassion enhances an individual’s ability to reach a more congruent view of self that, when coupled with a supportive therapeutic relationship, can lead to insight and lasting change. 

Christine is a member of the American Psychological Association; Texas Psychological Association; NAADAC, the Association for Addiction Professionals; and Texas Association of Addiction Professionals.  She is passionate about arts, culture, and sciences in the diverse and beautiful city of San Antonio, and is delighted with the opportunity to join the incredible team at Blue Heron Recovery in redefining recovery and changing lives through community.

Paul Tillson Mayer, MD

Medical Director

Dr. Mayer graduated from The United States Military Academy at West Point with a Bachelor of Science in Chemistry, earned a Doctor of Medicine from the Uniformed Services University of Health Sciences, completed post-doctoral Transitional Internship at Eisenhower Army Medical Center, completed Emergency Medicine Residency at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, and completed Fellowship in Government Emergency Medical Security at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center at Dallas. 

He also earned his Executive Master of Business Administration from Benedictine College while concurrently attending US Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas.

Dr. Mayer served as a US Regular Army Medical Corp officer and has completed multiple combat medical deployments.  He served as Medical Chief of Staff at the 31st Combat Support Hospital at Camp Bucca, Iraq, Chief of the Combat Support Hospital at the 67th Combat Support Hospital in Camp Bondsteel, Kosovo, and Officer in Charge of Clinic/Flight Surgeon Multinational Force & Observers in Sinai, Egypt. His military awards include Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal, Joint Service Commendation Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, Order of Military Medical Merit, NATO Metal, Multinational Force and Observer Medal, and Humanitarian Service Medal.

Dr. Mayer retired from the United States Army as a Colonel in 2015 after having served as Director of the US Army Emergency Medical Systems Programs and Director of the Department of Combat Medic Training at Fort Sam Houston, Texas.  He is Board Certified with the American Board of Emergency Medicine and has garnered successful executive experience through positions leading medical, training, and customer service organizations.  Additionally, Dr. Mayer has been actively involved in numerous research projects and authored or co-authored medical publications on various areas of research. In addition, he is frequently an invited presenter and guest speaker for trauma management, tactical combat casualty care, and battlefield medicine at national medical conferences and symposiums.

Currently, Dr. Mayer is the Medical Director at Full Spectrum ER and Urgent Care in San Antonio, serves as Adjunct Faculty at Brooke Army Medical Center at Fort Sam Houston, and is an Instructor for the Air Force Ground Surgical Team Training, Medical Readiness Training Center at Camp Bullis, Texas.  His expertise in serving a variety of populations within a wide range of need will be an invaluable asset to our recovery community and we at Blue Heron Recovery are grateful to have him on the team. 

Hallye Swoboda, LVN

Director of Operations

Hallye’s vast experience in administration, leadership, staff management, training, and direct patient care has spanned well over a decade. Her expertise with detoxification, medication management, and patient education comes from working with diverse patient populations as both an administrator and nurse in medical and substance treatment centers.

Hallye honed her skills in Continuous Quality Improvement plans, admissions utilization review, and human resources while developing and delivering training materials, medication administration, and other safety procedures to ensure compliance with departmental policies at various institutions. 

After earning her Licensed Vocational Nursing degree at Schreiner University in Kerrville, Texas, Hallye served as LVN/Staff Nurse at both Cenikor Foundation in Waco, Texas and Starlite Recovery Center in Center Point, Texas.  She developed expertise in systematic improvement measures, ongoing development, and advancement of accreditation during her tenure as Compliance Officer and Director of Nursing at The Ranch at Clear Springs in Aquilla Texas.

Hallye has exceptional experience in patient care, planning, directing coordinating and carrying out program procedures including staff acquisition and training, EMR development, facility medical protocol development and initiation, instrumental initial facility licensing and accreditation, and continual compliance monitoring in accordance with DSHS and Joint Commission/CARF standards. 

Blue Heron Recovery is immensely fortunate to have Hallye Swoboda serve as Director of Operations.  Our staff and clients are grateful for the dedication she brings to the development of the company and betterment of treatment services for our recovery community.

Richard Diaz, DNP, FNP/PMHNP

Dr. Diaz joined the New York State Army National Guard in 1983. In 1993, he decided to enroll in nursing school and attended the Albany Memorial Hospital School of Nursing, where he graduated with his diploma in nursing with honors. He immediately took bridge courses and began the family nurse practitioner program at Sage Graduate School, where he graduated in May 1998 with a Master of Science and certificate as a family nurse practitioner. He continued his education, receiving a post-master’s certificate as a family psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner.

In 1999, Dr. Diaz went on active duty in the army as a family nurse practitioner; he was first stationed at the Family Medicine Clinic at Brooke Army Medical Center. In 2003, he was sent to Camp Casey, South Korea, where he was the head nurse for a 10,000-patient military clinic. His next duty station was the Tripler Army Medical Center in Oahu, Hawaii. This was his last active-duty military assignment, and he afterwards returned to San Antonio, Texas, where he retired as a Major in the U.S. Army Reserve Nurse Corps. In May 2007, he began the Doctor of Nursing Practice (D.N.P.) Degree in Psychiatry program at the University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, and graduated with honors in May 2009.

Dr. Diaz is certified through the American Nurses Credentialing Center (A.N.C.C.) as a Family Nurse Practitioner and a Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. He loves traveling and spending time with his wife Sandy and son Jacob. The family has two Labradors, Grizzly and Smokey.

Courtney Paige, LCSW – Supervisor

Clinical Director

Courtney graduated Magna Cum Laude from Eastern Michigan University and earned her Master of Social Work at the University of Michigan, Suma Cum Laude, and completed her internship in Adult Inpatient Psychiatry at the University of Michigan Health System. A State of Texas Board approved LCSW-Supervisor, Licensed Clinical Social Worker, Certified Professional with the Non-Profit Leadership Alliance in Non-profit Management, and Certified Mental Health First Aid Instructor for both adult and youth populations with the National Council for Behavioral Mental Health. Courtney is also skilled in Crisis Response, Solution Focused Consultation, Diagnostic Assessment, Trauma Informed Care, Harm Reduction, and Mental Health First Aid.

Courtney’s experiences as Director of Counseling & Education, EAP Specialist, and Director of Clinical Services with both private, commercial, and non-profit organizations have deeply honed her skills for community collaboration, development and maintenance of community partnerships, and implementation, oversight and ongoing strategic direction of clinical services.  She joins the company as an exceptional practitioner, adept in Trauma Based Interventions, CBT, DBT, Prolonged Exposure, Motivational Interviewing and has proven leadership in the clinical realm. Blue Heron Recovery is delighted to have Courtney take the helm!

Michael King

Compliance Officer

Driven by personal growth and a desire to help others, Michael is completing the Bachelor of Psychology program at the University of Texas at San Antonio and holds an Associate’s degree in General Studies with a focus in Psychology from Rhode Island. He joins the Blue Heron team with customer service experience in hospital and private healthcare settings with both the civilian and veteran populations. In his position as Compliance Officer, Michael utilizes the exceptional skills he has learned within his personal, professional, and military experiences to support those in the recovery community. Blue Heron is fortunate to have Michael on the administrative team.

Nichole Haynes, LMSW

Mental Health Professional, Substance Use Therapist

Nichole brings more than a decade of experience in various professional mental health, substance use, and family-based therapist roles in her work as a compassionate and solution-oriented client care practitioner.  She received her Masters of Social Work with an emphasis in Family, Children, and Military studies at the University of Southern California (USC) and earned the Bachelor of Science in Professional Studies in Behavioral Science & Non-Profit Management at Duquesne University.

Skilled in individual and group training, strategic crisis intervention and prevention, and family conferences processes, Nichole has worked with high-risk clients living with various disorders including bipolar and BPD, and she strategically utilizes a multitude of different intervention techniques including CBT, DBT, and MI while educating her clients on diagnosed disorders and care plans to mitigate initial apprehensions stemming from negative mental health stigmas.  Her focus includes providing individual and group training on key concepts including decision-making person-centered thinking and self-advocacy skills.  Nichole’s wealth of experience in the co-occurring and dual diagnosis field lends great support to our clients providing competent, caring support in both substance use and mental health. We are fortunate to have her on the Blue Heron Team!

Haley Barrett, PRSS, LCDC-I

Counselor

Haley is a National Certified Peer Recovery Support Specialist and Licensed Chemical Dependency Counselor Intern who has earned her Associates degree in Applied Science, Human Services – Addiction Council. Currently pursuing a Masters in Social Work at the University of Texas A&M San Antonio, she joins the Blue Heron team with extensive training in the recovery field. Several years of experience in various treatment models, Haley specializes in admission assessments, motivational interviewing techniques, education, and therapeutic person-centered treatment plans. Professional, creative and flexible with proven analytical skills, Haley is adept at building and maintaining relationships as well as implementing community services to ensure client wellness.

Greg Temple, LCDC-I

Counselor

Greg earned the Bachelor of Arts in Studio Art at Sam Houston State University and an Associate of Applied Science at Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts while at the University of Texas at Austin. A wide breadth of experience, Greg’s years as a mental health technician in private and public hospital settings he has managed hospital admissions, led experiential therapy classes, and facilitated educational therapy sessions. Blue Heron Recovery is delighted that Greg is a member of the recovery team, sharing his varied experiences and expertise with authenticity and compassion.  

Edward Starr

George Lamson

Artist

George Elta Lamson credits his 22-year military career
(with the Marine Corps, Army and Air Force) for extensive
opportunities to live and travel throughout the world. Experiencing
parts of Europe, North Africa, the Middle East, the Far East and the
Caribbean has given him images that daily influence his art.

After his military career, he studied watercolor painting in the southwestern United States, printmaking in Italy and received a Fine Arts Degree with concentration on oil painting from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He was active in the art community of San Antonio where he owned an art gallery, taught painting classes and supervised an arts and crafts center. He spent five years as an arts and crafts director in Misawa, Japan where he met his wife, Sharon Wylie who was teaching for the Department of Defense. They moved to Okinawa where their lives revolved around school and art. George’s art expressed his special bond with the people and natural beauty of Okinawa and Japan.

The couple retired in San Antonio where George divides his time between studio and plein air painting. He is a member of the Coppini Academy of Fine Arts, Outdoor Painters Society, the Texas Watercolor Society, San Antonio Art League and is active with local plein art groups. Visit his website at www.GeorgeLamson.com

Blue Heron recovery is delighted that George Lamson will lead the visual arts classes. An integral part of the program, George’s experience, insight, and creativity will undoubtedly be a constant source of enjoyment for staff and clients alike.  Keep an eye out for our upcoming arts exhibitions!

Josefina Beatriz Longoria, MA

Joy Workshop Lecture Series Instructor

An accomplished author, editorial columnist, radio commentator, and television correspondent, Josefina earned her Masters of Arts in Organizational Development and Bachelors of Arts in Communication from Universidad de Monterrey, Mexico. In addition, she recently earned a second Masters of Arts in Creative Writing from Our Lady of the Lake University in San Antonio Texas. After graduating from The Masters School in Dobbs Ferry New York, she attended workshops at Harvard University in Boston and the Center of Fashion Design Studies in New York City.

She also studied French Civilization at La Sorbonne in Paris, participated in film script workshops at the Cultural Institute of Nuevo Leon, and completed a “Contemporary Mexico” program at Colegio de Mexico.  She has authored an impressive collection of works including “The Journalist Writer” for the University of Monterrey and was also the chosen author for “Through her Eyes”, anthology of Mexican American Writers.

Josefina’s list of editorial contributions spans several years with several journals including El Manana, Milenio Diario de Monterrey, and Diario de Nuevo Laredo. She has been author, editor, and ghost writer for various works published in El Norte, was Aid to the International Press, commentator for the radio program Diario del Aire, guest of Don Francisco in the televised debate for Sabado Gigante, commentator for the news shows Buenos Dias and Infosiete, Television Azteca, and news correspondent for NOTIMEX, Mexican News Agency in Los Angeles CA.   Josefina has also served as Public Relations Representative with Museo de Monterrey and is now a docent at the McNay Art Museum. A former student of the Southwest School of the Arts, painting is one of her hobbies.

Additionally, Josefina has published her own memoir, “Uproot” after participating in the Writer’s workshop with Mary Karr in Patmos, Greece, and has been serving her local San Antonio community as a member of the Board of Directors for several organizations including Hemisfair Conservancy, Gemini Ink, and The World Affairs Council. 

We are delighted and honored to have Josefina Beatriz Longoria join the Blue Heron Recovery team. Her infectious enthusiasm and insatiable thirst for knowledge will be an inspiration to us all as she spearheads the Blue Heron Lecture Series with her very own Joy Workshop.