Team Members

Joseph H. Donnelly, MD,
Medical Director

Rebecca Hernandez, MSEd,
Manager

Erica Duarte
Family Engagement Coordinator

Lacey Ginter
Developmental Screening Coordinator

Daisy Lezama
Coordinator Screening Registry

Deanna Parga, MEd
Child Development Community Liaison

Yvette Nunez, M.A., ECE
Child Development Community Liaison

Claudia Estrada
Child Development Community Liaison

Tanya Alvarenga
Child Development Community Liaison

Cynthia Chandler
Department Assistant

Close Window

Joseph H. Donnelly, MD
Medical Director

Joseph H. Donnelly, MD

Dr. Donnelly is a pediatric neurologist who received his B.A. from Harvard College, M.D. from Georgetown University and completed his training in pediatrics and neurology at Boston City Hospital. He was a practicing clinician and educator for 25 years in Massachusetts at Baystate Medical Center which was affiliated with the University of Massachusetts and is the western campus of Tufts University School of Medicine. He was the chief of developmental-behavioral pediatrics, director of the developmental evaluation clinic, pervasive developmental disorders clinic and the Pediatric Muscular Dystrophy Association Clinic, and consultant for the Massachusetts Department of Public Health, Shriner’s Hospital for Children and numerous schools and community organizations. He has a special clinical interest in providing support to families and caring for children with autism, ADHD and other developmental disorders.

He joined the University of CA, Irvine in 2002 as a Clinical Professor of Pediatrics and has been a clinician and the medical director of an autism program entitled For OC Kids. He is now the Director of the CHOC-UCI Neurodevelopmental Programs. This collaboration involves programs for autism, ADHD and other developmental disorders (For OC Kids), high risk infant follow-up (EDAC) parent training for disruptive behaviors (CUIDAR) and Help Me Grow Orange County. He is the co-chair of the AAP Chapter 4 Committee on Children with Special Needs and was recently the AAP state representative to the CA ABCD leadership team.

Dr. Donnelly is also the Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs in the Department of Pediatrics at UC Irvine. He is board certified in Pediatrics, Neurology with Special Qualification in Child Neurology and Neurodevelopmental Disabilities.

Close Window

Rebecca Hernandez, MSEd
Manager

Rebecca Hernandez, MSEd

Rebecca Hernandez led the effort to establish Help Me Grow, a program connecting families to developmental services in Orange County. With the support of the Children and Families Commission of Orange County (CFCOC) and the CHOC/UCI Neurodevelopmental Programs, she began the process of building the infrastructure and team of Help Me Grow in September of 2006. She participated on the Developmental & Behavioral Pathways Committee led by the CFCOC with the goal of addressing the developmental needs of all children in Orange County. Rebecca is also working as a consultant for the Connecticut Children's Medical Center and the Commonwealth Fund to support in the National Replication Project of Help Me Grow. Having worked as an Autism Coordinator at Long Beach Unified School District, a Program Manager at Harbor Regional Center and a Child Development Specialist at Kaiser Permanente, Rebecca brings a wealth of experience to her role as Manager of Help Me Grow.

Rebecca is an alumna of Stanford University where she studied Human Biology with an emphasis in Child Development. Rebecca also holds a M.S.Ed. degree from Wheelock College in Boston having specialized in Working with Children in Health Care Settings. During her time at Wheelock College, she completed internships at Boston Children's Hospital and University of Massachusetts Medical Center in Worcester.

Close Window

Patricia Cavanaugh, M.Ed
EPIC Coordinator

Patricia Cavanaugh, M.Ed

Patricia joined the Help Me Grow team in Dec. 2014 as the Educating Providers in the Community (EPIC) coordinator for Orange County. She holds a BA in Early Childhood and M. Ed in Special Education from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She also holds a Nevada Special Teaching license and a Director's permit from California.

Patricia's career working with families and children includes being an Executive Director of an early childhood agency serving at risk children, 0-5 years old. As Executive Director, her grant writing expertise increased funding to expand program services to employ an MFT and Developmental Specialist, who identified and worked with children with developmental and behavior concerns. While in this position, she served as a Palomar College Child Development Consortium Advisory Committee member and 2nd Vice Chair of the San Diego Local Planning Council. Patricia was also the recipient of the 2014 North County Philanthropy Council's "Spirit of Carol Sigelman" award.

Patricia worked as a supervisor for Nevada Early Intervention Services, where she was chief designer and developer of curriculum used for Early Childhood Inclusive groups for the state of Nevada. She was Lead staff trainer on assessment tools used to determine eligibility for Part C services. While in Nevada, Patricia completed an internship with a Pediatric Audiologist, and taught young children with hearing and vision impairments. Patricia was nominated in 2005 for Nevada Early Childhood Association's "Early Childhood Educator of the Year".

Patricia has experience as an Early Childhood mental health consultant where she developed specialized curriculum for children exhibiting social/emotional and behavior concerns due to family trauma. She also provided professional development trainings on curriculum used in Day Treatment therapeutic preschool program classes for young children.

Close Window

Erica Duarte
Family Engagement Coordinator

Erica Duarte

Erica received her Bachelors degree in Psychology & a Minor in Human Services from California State University, Fullerton. She has a passion for educating and connecting families to Orange County resources. She has been part of well recognized agencies in Orange County, such as Regional Center of Orange County, Children's Bureau of Southern California, and Olive Crest Treatment Centers.

Prior to coming to Help Me Grow, Erica worked as a Care Coordinator for Wraparound Services in Orange County. As a Care Coordinator she learned the importance of strengthening families by connecting them to the right resources. She has also been a volunteer for the Probation Department.

Erica joined the Help Me Grow team in March 2010. She continues to fulfill her passion of educating and linking families and their children to resources as a Family Engagement Coordinator.

Close Window

Jennifer Maresh, M.P.A
Supervisor CSP3

Jennifer Maresh, M.P.A

Jennifer received her Bachelors degree in American Studies & Political Science from California State University, Fullerton and a Masters degree in Public Administration from California State University, Fullerton. She has been part of well recognized agencies in Orange County, such as the Orange County Child Abuse Prevention Center, Orangewood Children's Foundation, and Children's Home Society.

Prior to coming to Help Me Grow, Jennifer worked as a Program Supervisor in the Bridges Maternal Child Health Network Program with the Prevention Center. As a Program Supervisor she helped to launch the implementation of the Positive Parenting Program curriculum within the Bridges Network. She has also provided direct services to Transitional Aged Youth while at the Orangewood Children's Foundation.

Jennifer joined the Help Me Grow team in September 2013. She continues to fulfill her passion of helping direct service staff develop their abilities to provide excellent service to families in need as a Supervisor in the CSP3 program. Jennifer also enjoys using program data to help paint an accurate picture of the team's important work in the community.

Close Window

Lacey Ginter
Developmental Screening Coordinator

Lacey Ginter

In November of 2006 Lacey was one of the original Community Liaisons to join the Help Me Grow team. As one of the first members to join the team she has been able to participate in the growth of Help Me Grow from the very beginning. As of January 2010 Lacey started her current role as the Developmental Screening Coordinator. Lacey earned her Bachelors degree in Family and Consumer Sciences at California State University, Long Beach with an emphasis in Child Development.

She brings experience in working with families and children along with a passion to help meet the needs of each individual family. Prior to joining Help Me Grow, Lacey was an Intake Service Coordinator for Regional Center of Orange County. In this role she gained working knowledge of family dynamics and used these skills to help determine RCOC eligibility and link families with vendored services best suited to fit their needs. Throughout this experience, Lacey quickly realized the need many families had for support and resources and also the unfortunate disconnect between these families and the resources available to them. The passion that she has to help families overcome this disconnect is what led her to join the Help Me Grow team.

As a Developmental Screening Coordinator, Lacey works closely with families to screen each child's development and then connect them with the resources they need. Enhancing the development of every child is a goal Lacey strives for each day. With her passion, Lacey continues to make a difference in the lives of the families she serves.

Close Window

Daisy Lezama
Coordinator Screening Registry

Daisy Lezama

Daisy received her Bachelor's Degree in Human Development with a minor in Criminal Justice from California State University, Long Beach. As part of her undergraduate program, she interned for the I Have a Dream of Foundation of Los Angeles where she had the opportunity to work with 3rd graders in the Los Angeles Watts area. She also worked as an instructional aide for Long Beach Unified School District with grades Preschool - 2nd grader students at various school sites. She was able to see that many of the children she worked with had needs that affected their capacity do to well in school. Her passion for helping children grew.

Prior to coming to Help Me Grow, Daisy worked at the Minnie Street Family Resource Center where she helped families and children in her role as a Family Advocate and Community Resource Specialist. Daisy became knowledgeable of the many resources available to individuals and families. She enjoyed the fact that she was able to help and bring comfort to individuals that needed help.

Daisy joined the Help Me Grow Team in December 2014 as a Family Service Care Coordinator. She joined the team where she would continue to help families get connected to resources in the community and was looking forward to being part of an agency that was gear towards children and their development. Daisy knows the importance of child development and is delighted to keep being part of the Help Me Grow Team in her new role as the Coordinator Screening Registry.

Close Window

Claudia Estrada
Child Development Community Liaison

Claudia Estrada

Claudia first joined the Help Me Grow team in 2009, then after a short departure she rejoined in October 2015 as a Child Development Community Liaison. She received her Bachelorís degree in Psychology and Social Behavior, with a minor in Educational Studies from the University of California, Irvine.

She has years of experience working with young children and families. As a Family Service Specialist, she provided intense case management services to preschool families. Claudia has also worked as an Early Intervention Teacher, working with children who were at risk for delays or children with an established diagnosis. She completed assessments and determined appropriate goals that helped children acquire important skills.

Claudia understands the importance of early intervention and stimulating development in young children. She is committed to collaborating with community agencies in hopes to appropriately link families to resources.

Close Window

Deanna Parga, MSEd
Child Development Community Liaison

Deanna Parga, MSEd

Deanna joined the Help Me Grow team in March 2009 as the Child Development Community Liaison for South Orange County. Deanna earned a Bachelors Degree in Child Development with a minor in Sociology and Masters Degree in Education with an emphasis in Early Childhood Special Education from California State University, Fullerton. Deanna also completed coursework toward a Teaching Credential in Early Childhood Special Education.

Deanna brings years of experience working directly with children birth through five years of age and their families. She has worked as the Assistant Director of a child care center and an Early Intervention Teacher both in a center based and in-home settings. Deanna also worked as the Director of an Early Intervention Program for over 10Ĺ years. She worked closely with many Orange County agencies that offer services to children and their families. These experiences provided her with opportunities to become familiar with the systems, agencies and resources available to families and their children, especially those experiencing developmental delays.

Close Window

Yvette Nunez, M.A., ECE
Child Development Community Liaison

Yvette Nunez, M.A., ECE

Yvette Nunez joined the Help Me Grow team in October 2013 as a Family Services Care Coordinators for the CSP3 Program. As of July 2015 Yvette started her current role as the Child Development Liaison for the West Region. Yvette earned a Bachelors of Science Degree in Child and Adolescent Development from California State University, Fullerton and a Masters of Arts Degree in Early Childhood Education from California State University, Long Beach.

Yvette is bilingual in Spanish and brings years of experiences working directly with children birth through five and their families. She has worked in home settings and center base settings as a home educator with Orange County Headstart. Prior to coming to Help Me Grow, Yvette worked as a Maternal Child Health Coordinator with MOMS Orange County. During her time with MOMS she provided prenatal education, helped connect pregnant women with referrals/resources and provided support to the family during the child's first year of development. Most recently, Yvette has worked as a part-time Adjunct Professor at Santa Ana College in the Human Development Department.

Her goal as a Child Development Community Liaison is to help agencies and families connect with resources in their community. Yvette states that she loves giving back to her community and has a passion for making an impact in the lives of children, family and the community.

Close Window

Tanya Alvarenga
Child Development Community Liaison

Tanya Alvarenga

Tanya joined the Help Me Grow Team in August 2016 as a Child Development Community Liaison. She received her Bachelorís degree in Child & Adolescent Development from California State University, Fullerton.

She has years of experience working with young children and families. As a Child Care Center Director she managed an educational program for children ages 2-12 years old, and later opened an Infants program for the center. Tanya has also worked as an In-home Parenting Coach in partnership with Child Protective Services to provide mandated parenting classes to families within the County. As a Program Specialist, she developed a Respite Care program that offered services for military families and children with special needs. She also implemented a new Prevention and Early Intervention program in collaboration with the Children & Families Commission of Orange County. In this program, several agencies in the County worked together to provide developmental services for at-risk children and their families.

These experiences have motivated Tanya to continue to support early intervention programs for children and families. She understands that connecting families to these resources is extremely valuable for a child, and is grateful to be a part of such a great cause.

Close Window

Cynthia Chandler
Department Assistant

Cynthia Chandler

Cindy joined the HMG team in 2015 as the Department Assistant. Prior to coming to Help Me Grow she worked for 27 years in an elementary school as the office manager. She has extensive training in running an office and loves the idea that by doing her job well she allows the staff to do their job more effectively. Cindy is passionate about families and children and is excited to be part of an organization that exists for that purpose.