Meet Our Team
Christina Varela Mayer, PhD
Chief Executive Officer
Christina 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.
Christina 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
Dr. Mayer is Board Certified in both Addiction Medicine and Emergency Medicine. 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.
Lindsey Yow, LCDC
A versatile clinician and leader with nearly two decades of experience in the field of chemical dependency counseling, Lindsey brings a wide breadth of skill and expertise to the Blue Heron Recovery Team. She graduated summa cum laude from Texas Tech University in 2007 having earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Minor in Substance Abuse Studies, and has a Master of Arts degree in Human Services Counseling from Liberty University.
Lindsey’s career began in Lubbock, Texas where she was born and raised. Her vast experience in the field includes overseeing operations for outpatient programs, specialty courts, federal probation, federal/pretrial, Adult Drug and DWI Courts, and she is adept with managing state regulatory requirements and external agencies. Lindsey has worked in both for-profit and non-profit organizations, residential treatment centers, partial hospitalization facilities, and outpatient levels of care in both counseling and leadership roles.
Lindsey became a San Antonio transplant at the beginning of 2011 and a member of San Antonio Women Leaders in 2022. She excels in organizational, team building and collaborative efforts, and she continues to manage a weekly caseload facilitating individuals and process/didactic groups with compassion and empathy. Her preferred counseling methods include solution-focused, person-centered, and cognitive-behavioral therapies with the understanding that each client presents with a unique story and recovery journey. Blue Heron Recovery is delighted to bring the leadership of Lindsey Yow to our clinical team.
Richard Diaz, DNP, FNP/PMHNPDr. 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.