Our Team

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 165 at risk children each day. Hands Together does more than preschool preparation. The facility also works with working poor parents to enrich their lives preparing them for the work place.

Realizing the overwhelming need for expansion, Peters seeks to garner greater support from foundations, businesses and community leaders who understand the value of advanced early education for children.


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.”

Lorena Aboytes, Morning Garden Director

I have been working with the Morning Garden community for seven years. When I started as a volunteer, I felt welcome in to a space of growth and exploration. Later on as the Lead Preschool Teacher I was captivated by the holistic approach that is used to guide the children and parents through our programs resources and opportunities. I have grown into the M.G. director position over the years and look forward to upholding and magnifying the values and capacities of this program. I am proud to work with such hardworking and passionate families in Santa Ana. The knowledge that is created, transformed, and shared at Morning Garden program has built community, celebrated culture, and nurtured new opportunities and possibilities for all participants including myself.

I graduated from the University of California, Santa Cruz with a bachelor’s degree in Latin American and Latino studies. Since graduation I have worked with local families and schools. I worked at the Highland Learning Center in the city of Orange managing a programed reading workshop for school aged children.  I am also an instructional provider for Engage 360 an after school program created by the Santa Ana Unified School District.

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 and a workforce development program for their parents.

Today, Hands Together is governed by a volunteer board of directors composed of a cross section of community leaders,  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.

Ms. Juanita Doby, Vice President
Independent Consulting
Retired VP Human Resources, Volvo Cars
Email: jdoby@volvocars.com

Glenn Howard, Ph.D., President
CPA, Attorney, Board Member, THINK Together
Email: glennhoward@charter.net

Ms. Ellen Mogasemi, Secretary
Cibola Systems Corporation, Orange
Email: emogasemi@cibolasystems.com [/twocol_one]

Amber Seggie, ARM
Gallagher, Area Vice President
Email: amber_segge@ajg.com

Susan Johnson RN
Hoag Hospital Community Foundation

Melissa Figge  College Planner/School Counselor

Courtney Williams  Treasurer  VP Pacific Premier Bank