Meet Our Team

Karina Chavez, Center Director

Karina has been in the field of early childhood education for 20 years. She began working with children while in high school and chose to stay in the field after graduation. She has been with Hands Together since the summer of 2005.

She enjoys working at Hands Together because of the interactions staff and administration have with the children and their families and because “It is always exciting seeing a child learn something new.”

Lorena Aboytes, Program Director

Lorena has been working with the Morning Garden community for more than 10 years. When she started as a volunteer, Lorena felt welcomed into a space of growth and exploration.

Later, as the Lead Preschool Teacher she was captivated by the holistic approach that is used to guide the children and parents through the program’s resources and opportunities. Lorena has grown into the Morning Garden Director position over the years and looks forward to upholding and magnifying the values and capacities of the program.
"It is always exciting seeing a child learn something new."

Board of Directors

Recognizing a compelling need to break the cycle of poverty in Santa Ana, the founders of Hands Together designed a program to address the educational needs of children at the youngest age possible and a workforce development program for their parents.

Today Hands Together is governed by a volunteer Board of Directors. The Board includes recognized community and professional leaders who bring substantial, far-reaching expertise to Hands Together.
Laura Peters, MBA, President
Entrepreneur
Email: lep@intlsoftwaresystems.com
Courtney Williams, Treasurer
FVP, CRA Officer
Pacific Premier Bank
Email: cwilliams@ppbi.com
Ellen Mogasemi, Secretary
Director of Administration and Operations
Cibola Systems Corporation
Email: ellen@handstogether-sa.org
Melissa Figge, MS, PPS, IEC
Independent Educational Consultant
Email: Mfigge1@outlook.com
Juanita Doby
Independent Consulting
Retired VP Human Resources, Volvo Cars
Email: info@handstogether-sa.org
Sister Paulette Deters, CSJ
Retired, Catholic Elementary School Educator, 40+ years
Assistant, Finance Office, Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange
Email: pdeters@csjorange.org