Perla Cavazos was born and raised in San Benito, a small town on the Texas-Mexico border, and moved to Austin over 20 years ago to take a job advocating for affordable housing for people with low income. Since moving to Austin she has developed expertise in public policy, advocacy and government affairs with a focus on improving the lives of Texans who are most vulnerable.
She joined the team at Central Health in July of 2016, and previously worked for Texas Legal Services Center, Texas Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy, and in the Texas Senate as a Senior Policy Analyst and Legislative Director. Perla has a BA from Stanford University and a Masters in Public Affairs from the LBJ School of Public Affairs at The University of Texas at Austin.
Perla is an active volunteer in the community and serves on several non-profit boards and city commissions and task forces. She is a board member of Planned Parenthood-Greater Texas, Foundation Communities, Texas Access to Justice Foundation and LUPE Arte. Perla is a founding member of FuturoFund, a local philanthropic circle that supports Latino-serving nonprofit organizations in Austin. Her public service includes past terms with the City of Austin Planning Commission, Commission for Women, Resource Management Commission, Imagine Austin Citizens Advisory Task Force, and recently the City Manager Search Task Force. Perla is a Leadership Austin Alum (’08) and recipient of the “Austin Under 40 Award” in government and public affairs (’08).
Tierra Thomas joined Central Health in February 2010 as an Administrative Assistant after relocating from Kansas City, Missouri to Austin, Texas. When Central Health created Sendero Health Plans, Inc., a Health Maintenance Organization (HMO), Tierra decided to join the new company as a Provider Network Representative. After her assistance with building a Provider Network for the Medicaid and CHIP programs, Tierra moved on to Member Services where she helped build a team to help resolve member and provider concerns. In 2014, she transitioned to Vendor Relations and gained the expertise to obtain the Senior Director of Operations position.
Tierra has a B.S. Degree in Criminal Justice with an emphasis in Administration from Missouri Western, and a Master’s Degree in Healthcare Administration from the University of Phoenix.
In 2019, Tierra was named Sendero’s Chief Operating Officer. Her performance in all roles have been key in navigating Sendero through the years.
Mary Carol Jennings, MD, MPH is the new chief medical officer of Sendero Health Plans, where she will contribute to our mission of delivering high-quality, equitable health care to the County’s under-served and uninsured. A board-certified preventive medicine physician with a special focus on communicable disease prevention and health equity, Dr. Jennings grew up in small-town rural South Carolina. She joins Sendero’s executive leadership team from the faculty of the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she directed international research and policy initiatives across multiple departments, and served as a core faculty member and Academic Director of the school’s preventive medicine residency training program.
Dr. Jennings’ implementation research and public health practice focuses on using theoretical frameworks of participation and community organizing to engage the end-user in improving vaccine and health service delivery programs, with special attention on serving neglected and low-resourced populations. For the past 4 years she ran a multi-country vaccine access collaborative in partnership with the U.S. CDC and the US-based global NGO, JSI, and she most recently served as the Director of Reproductive and Maternal Health Initiatives for the school’s International Vaccine Access Center.
Dr. Jennings completed her undergraduate degree in neuroscience from the College of William & Mary and received her medical degree from the University of South Carolina, where she focused on rural medicine and primary care. She completed two years of clinical training in obstetrics and gynecology before leaving to serve as a senior fellow in women’s health for a policy think tank based in Washington, DC, overseeing regulatory and safety programs and initiatives. She went on to complete a residency in preventive medicine and obtained a master of public health degree from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, where she continues to serve on the faculty and as an advisor on community health and disease prevention issues.
Dr. Jennings joined Sendero as Chief Medical Officer in July 2020.
Elizabeth Barreneche joined Sendero Health Plans in August of 2013 as an Accounting Assistant after relocating from Canada. She holds a BS in Accounting and has leveraged her financial experience to work her way up through the company developing a deep understanding of managing plan financials.
Ms. Barreneche was named Chief Financial Officer for Sendero Health Plans in 2016.