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Our Pediatricians

Located in Northern California, the Pediatric Group of Monterey is a group of experienced, enthusiastic pediatricians and staff dedicated to providing up-to-date, comprehensive, reliable and sensitive care to infants, children and teens. Our mission is to improve and maintain kids’ health and well-being throughout their childhood — and help them grow into healthy adults.

Todd Dwelle, MD

Todd Dwelle, MD, is board certified in Pediatrics. Dr. Dwelle grew up in the Central Valley of California and moved east for his medical training. After meeting his wife in New York, the family decided to return to Monterey in 2002. In 2017, Dr. Dwelle was awarded the Clinical Excellence Award for Primary Care by Stanford Children’s Health. He has a special interest in advancing medical technology such as telehealth visits. Dr. Dwelle enjoys time with his children, flying, swimming, road biking and backpacking.

Yanli Tao, MD

Yanli Tao, MD, is board certified in Pediatrics. She has lived and practiced pediatrics in Monterey for 11 years. Previously, she taught family practice residents at Natividad Medical Center, a UCSF affiliated teaching hospital, which allowed her to further enhance her competency in medicine. Throughout her education and training, Dr. Tao has been the recipient of multiple awards and certificates of appreciation for excellence in both academic achievement and patient care. She loves working with children and is living out her dream of being a pediatrician. Dr. Tao enjoys singing, dancing, running, films and spending time with family and friends.

Jim Bennett, MD

Jim Bennett, MD, is board certified in Pediatrics. Dr. Bennett moved to the San Francisco Bay Area to study at Stanford University, where he met his wife, Dr. Sara Liu, who also practices at the Pediatric Group of Monterey. His family moved to Monterey in 2012. Prior to that, they lived in the Santa Cruz area, where Dr. Bennett was the pediatric medical director at Dominican Hospital. Dr. Bennett has been practicing in the Monterey area for over 16 years. His medical interests include pediatric asthma, allergies and ADHD. Outside of work, Dr. Bennett enjoys running, basketball, traveling and spending time with his three daughters.

Sara Liu, MD

Sara Liu, MD, is board certified in Pediatrics. She is a California native and has lived and practiced pediatrics on the Central Coast since 1998. She loves pediatrics and comes home from work every day thinking it’s the best job in the world. “It’s such a privilege to be a small part in the lives of my patients as I watch them grow and thrive.” Dr. Liu also enjoys spending time with her husband, Dr. Jim Bennett, and their three daughters, traveling, trying new restaurants, hiking and reading.

Kirk Mulgrew, MD

Kirk Mulgrew, MD, is board certified in Pediatrics and Sports Medicine. He was born and raised in Orange County, California, and spent his undergraduate, medical school and residency years in Northern and Southern California. After completing residency, he moved with his wife and two small children to Seattle, where he completed a fellowship in sports medicine and served as a team physician for the Washington Huskies. He and his family then returned to Southern California for two years, where he worked in private practice. Dr. Mulgrew is happy to be living and working in Monterey where he can surf, play drums and enjoy spending time with his wife and three children.

Matthew Trokel, MD

Matthew Trokel, MD, is a pediatric emergency medicine physician who has been practicing for over 20 years. He received his medical degree from Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, New York. He completed his residency at Children's Hospital of Philadelphia Pediatric Residency in Philadelphia, PA and his pediatric emergency medicine fellowship at Boston Medical Center in Boston, Massachusetts. Dr. Trokel has received several awards for teaching excellence from the Department of Emergency Medicine and has published many articles on emergency and trauma medicine.

Cynthia Lee, MD

Cynthia Lee, MD, is board certified in Pediatrics. She knew from a young age that she wanted to be a doctor. She is a Texas native and moved to the Bay Area for her undergraduate studies at Stanford University. She went back to Texas to obtain her medical degree from Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, Texas, where she met her husband, Harsha Mittakanti, MD, a urologist. After completing her residency, she returned to the Bay Area, where she practiced in San Francisco for a few years. In her free time, she enjoys running, hiking, biking, and spending time with her husband and toddler.

Julia Pederson, MD, grew up in Southern California and was drawn to medicine when her grandmother was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease. After graduating from Harvard College, she received her medical degree from Stanford School of Medicine. She then completed her residency at Lurie Children's Hospital of Chicago before moving back to the West Coast. Dr. Pederson has won several awards, including the Global Health Initiative Travel Award in 2017 and the Pediatric Resident Teaching Award in 2016. In her free time, she enjoys running and walking with her daughter and their dog, as well as birding.

Julie Smith, RN, PNP

Julie Smith, RN, PNP, is a native of the Monterey area. She grew up in Salinas and moved to the Midwest to complete her education. After finishing her nurse practitioner education, she spent a year working in a pediatric emergency department. She joined the Pediatric Group of Monterey in 2012 and enjoys assisting families with the health of their children. In addition to well and sick visits, she also focuses on adolescent health, asthma, and obesity. When not working she spends time with her husband, teenage step-daughter, and infant son. She enjoys golf, exercise, reading and crossword puzzles.

Helen Pavis, RN

Helen Pavis, RN, began her nursing career over 25 years ago. She has a wealth of experience in a variety of clinical settings, including 16 years of acute inpatient general pediatric nursing. Most recently, she managed a pediatric gastroenterology office and was an advice nurse for patient calls.

Angelica Salas, RN

Angelica Salas, RN, graduated from Hartnell College in Salinas, California. She has experience in both the clinical and administrative aspects of nursing as a former case manager, psychiatric nurse, and pediatric clinic nurse.