Our Team


Dave Peters II, Executive Director

Allergan (1)Dave Peters, a veteran nonprofit professional who has dedicated more than three decades to helping children, is executive director of Hands Together, an award-winning Center for Children and Families in Santa Ana, a community with the highest level of hardship in the United States.

Peters comes to Hands Together in Santa Ana from Kids Konnected, a Laguna Hills-based cancer support organization where he was executive director for 5 years, and was Fund Development and Special Events Director at Olive Crest Homes and Services in Santa Ana, for 7 years.

Hands Together has repeatedly been recognized at a state and national level for its work in preparing very young children for kindergarten. The Center for Children sits in a zip code with the highest poverty in Orange County.

Hands Together offers advanced early education to over 175 at risk children each day. Hands Together does more than preschool preparation. The facility also works with working poor parents to enrich their lives.

Realizing the overwhelming need for expansion, Peters seeks to garner greater support from foundations, businesses and community leaders for Hands Together.

Karina Chavez, Hands Together Preschool Director

Karina holds a Bachelor’s degree from Cal State University of Fullerton in Child and Adolescent Development. Her professional and educational aspirations are to gain as much knowledge as she can for her new position as director. She plans to continue attending classes as well as trainings and workshops related to the field.

Karina has 12 Years of experience in Early Childhood Education. She began working with children while in high school and chose to stay in the field since. She has been with Hands Together since the summer of 2005.

Karina lives in the community where she works. She states “I love running into families on the weekend and seeing the children’s expression when they see me outside of the school. I was born in Long Beach but raised in Santa Ana. Growing up I always said that I wanted to be a teacher when I grew up. I wanted to teach in the elementary schools but when I started working with the preschoolers I loved it so much, I stayed in the early education field.” 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.”

Mayra Serna, Director of Morning Garden

“I love helping people in need, whether it is by teaching them, helping them grow, or assisting them in finding resources in the community,” says Mayra Serna, Program Director at Hands Together’s Morning Garden program. “My goal is to become as resourceful as possible by keeping up with the local resources available with the aim of making them accessible to those in need.” Mayra, who joined Hands Together in April, 2009, has a Bachelor of Arts in anthropology and Latin American and Caribbean studies from Union College in New York. The daughter of immigrants from Aguascalientes, Mexico, she was born and reared in Santa Ana, a city she proudly calls her hometown. Mayra says: “After assisting a university in New York for four years, I knew that I had a responsibility to return to my community and engage in assisting children and families by educating and providing assistance to them. I enjoy working with Hands Together’s Morning Garden program because it allows me to do all of these things.”

Board of Directors

Seeing a compelling need to break the cycle of poverty in Santa Ana, Hands Together founders designed a program to address the educational needs of children at the youngest age possible.

Today, Hands Together is governed by a volunteer board of directors composed of 14 members, including recognized community and professional leaders who bring substantial, far-reaching experience to board efforts. Those whose e-mail addresses are included below welcome your comments and inquiries.

Mr. Robert Kuhel, President
Orange County Superior Court, retired
Email: rkuhel@aol.com
Ms. Juanita Doby, Vice President
Independent Consulting
Retired VP Human Resources, Volvo Cars
Email: jdoby@volvocars.com
Glenn Howard, Ph.D., Treasurer
CPA, Attorney, Board Member, THINK Together
Email: glennhoward@charter.net
Ms. Ellen Mogasemi, Secretary
Cibola Systems Corporation, Orange
Email: emogasemi@cibolasystems.com
Vice President Marketing, Toyota USA (retired)
 Mary Ellen Glaser MSW, LCSW
Therapist Private Practise
Paul Schmidt  MBA, PMP
St. Joseph’s Heathcare, Systems Director
Sister Susan Trezek,  CSF
Sister’s of Saint Joseph 

Mai Ly Vu  Pacific Premier Bank