Meet Our Team

Ellen Mogasemi, Executive Director

Ellen’s recent position as Vice President, Operations - and nearly 14-year history of working and volunteering with Hands Together and serving on the Board of Directors - set the stage for her to establish and implement action plans towards Hands Together’s strategic priorities, and oversee daily operations of the organization. Ellen’s corporate career comprised more than 20 years in operations, office and executive administration for various companies, including Cibola Systems Corporation, Ernst & Young, and Cap Gemini. 

Ellen’s leadership skills, commitment to early childhood education, executive and office administration expertise, and experience with the organization’s partners and funders make her an exceptional individual for the role of Executive Director.

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.”
"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.

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
Karen Dimmick, Treasurer
Accountant, J.K. Bookkeeping Service
Melissa Figge, MS, PPS, IEC
Independent Educational Consultant
Sister Paulette Deters, CSJ, Secretary
Retired, Catholic Elementary School Educator, 40+ years
Assistant, Finance Office, Sisters of St. Joseph of Orange
Juanita Doby, Independent Consulting
Retired VP Human Resources, Volvo Cars