About Us

Meet our HUFC Team

Our mission is to support children in distressed situations through education, shelter, health and individual welfare.

Meet the Team

Executive Director

From her childhood in the south of France to becoming a start-up software executive in San Diego, Agnes’s drive has resulted in success at every organization in which she has been involved. Her consuming interest in her daughter’s education led her to chairmanship of the board of the international school her daughter attended, cementing her interest in the role of education in improving children’s lives.
Exposure to the mechanics of how education is actually delivered enlivened her concern in the quality gap between the education offered to the least privileged and that offered to the most privileged. Combined with her international sensibilities, the offer of leading Hands United for Children proved an irresistible draw, and her passion and results-oriented focus on ameliorating the poor opportunities available to those left behind by the world’s educational systems has energized the organization.

Her experience as a co-founder and VP of Sales of an Internet analytics company, involving a central role in capital management that helped fund the company, highlights her suitability to the role. She has recruited top-notch people to oversee the organization, and under her leadership as Executive Director Hands United has begun to make a meaningful difference in Africa and right here in San Diego.


Derek_1Derek Footer
General Counsel

Zeal for justice led Derek to law school, and animates his interest in helping children from less privileged backgrounds attain educational opportunity. Long international experience refined his interest in helping children throughout the world.

The increasing realization on the part of Americans that the educational system is failing those most in need of educational opportunity, a situation even more stark internationally, is what led him to join the board. The chance to help rectify the situation, by working with hands-on administrators at schools struggling with the indifference towards that failure is a continuing source of inspiration.
Derek brings to the organization technical knowledge from decades of Internet software development, as well as the planning and leadership skills honed from years of executive management experience. Additionally, Derek is an attorney admitted to the bar in New York and California and serves as the organization’s General Counsel.


Elaine_Photo_smlElaine Leach
Finance Director

Elaine previously held the position of Chief Financial Officer and Manager for Saco Hair International, where she was responsible for business negotiations, administration, human resources and accounting.

Elaine Leach joined TAG – Family CFO in January 2012 focusing on outsourced accounting services and financial reporting for high-net-worth families, individuals, non-profit organizations and foundations. Within six months in the role, Leach was promoted to Business Development Manager to develop a growth strategy for the practice and execute a strategic marketing plan and expand partnership alliances.In 2013, she spearheaded the development of a market expansion in Rancho Santa Fe, with a new office located in the Village. She provided an integral role for brand expansion for TAG Family CFO and acquired new clients.

With her non-profit involvement and accounting expertise, she helped develop a new vertical for TAG Family CFO within the non-profit sector and hosts free quarterly educational workshops with the San Diego Foundation.

Leach is actively involved in: the Rancho Santa Fe Rotary, The Rancho Santa Fe Country Friends, Pedal the Cause and now Hands United for Children.


Azita_1Azita Vakili, DMD
Dental Clinic Director

Dr. Azita Vakili has been living in and serving the San Diego community for over 20 yrs. After dental school and completion of a three-year Prosthodontics residency program, she moved to San Diego and it became her home. She established the Solana Smiles and Implant Center in Solana Beach in 1991.

She completed her studies and graduated from the Dawson Center for comprehensive occlusal studies in St. Petersburg, Florida. She also has a certificate of completion of residency from The Piper Center for diagnosis and treatment of TMJ and TMD Syndromes.

She is a Fellow of the International Association of the Oral Implantologists and is a member of numerous professional associations in good standing. She lives with her two children and husband in Del Mar and is pleased to be able to give back to the community by offering the best that dentistry has to underserved community members. She is currently involved with the St. Leo dental clinic in Solana Beach and is excited to have the opportunity to serve the children at the O’Farrell Charter School. The HUFC Health Clinic provides dental, medical and vision care and is a pilot project of Ms. Barrelet and Dr. Vakili – they hope to duplicate and expand this model to other under-privileged communities.


IMG_3093 Matilde Montoya
Project Coordinator  

Matilde was 16 years old when she started her first job as a receptionist at Bay Club Carmel Valley in 2005. At the age of 18 she was promoted as the front desk Director. “I felt very excited and honor to have huge responsibilities at such a young age”.  After 3 years Matilde was offered a sales position at Bay Club Carmel Valley. Shortly, she was the team leader of the sales department. “Every month we will get recognized if we met our monthly goals. I have always work very hard to learn as much as possible and not really expect anything in return but for my work to be valued”. Matilde received 14 awards for the number one sales during 2008-2012. She then graduated from San Diego State University with studies in Marketing in 2013.

Matilde and her parents will volunteer at the “Ciudad de Ángeles” in Tijuana, Mexico. “I remember visiting every weekend, we would make food at home and take it to the children. Seeing their faces full of happiness made my heart feel good. I loved the feeling of helping others and I knew this was something I want to do for the rest of my life”.

When Matilde met Agnes and learned about Hands United for Children she saw an opportunity to have a dream come true. “I was beyond happy and excited to be a part of this journey that is doing beautiful things for Children.  I want children to know that they do not stand alone that we are here to care, help, and teach them. With hard work and a great heart all dreams can come true and I feel that with Hands United for Children we will make all dreams come true”.