I was born into a family of 7 to parents who were Idaho natives. At a young age we moved to Maryland where I was able to grow up in a bustling metropolis outside of Washington D.C. experiencing politics, the arts, museums and historical locations on a regular basis. I majored in Elementary Education at the University of Idaho where I met my husband and then raised two Vandals and one Bronco in the process.I’ve dedicated most of my career as the Executive Director of Giraffe Laugh Early Learning Center. Since 1990 we have seen our little nonprofit, serving low-income children, move from one small center to four schools, one being located on a campus for pregnant and parenting teens. Ensuring school readiness, empowering families and building strong futures is my primary goal and mission, one child, one family at a time.
Donor Relations Director
I am the oldest of two, I have a younger brother, Michael, and a fur baby, Sooka, a little Heeler/Pointer mix. I grew up in the suburbs of Salt Lake City, Utah where Michael and I played nearly every sport and camped all over Southern Utah. I attended private Catholic elementary and high school in Utah and graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Art History and Communications from Regis University, a Jesuit liberal arts university in Denver, Colorado. My education has always incorporated some form of service so I’ve always felt compelled and drawn to nonprofit work.
Marketing & Volunteer Coordinator
Having developed a passion for equality and environmental justice at a young age, I graduated from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 2015 with Bachelor’s degrees in Environmental Studies and Geography, as well as a Certificate in Public Health. I have been an artist since I was old enough to hold a pencil, specializing primarily in painting, drawing, and graphic design. I am excited to use these creative skills and goal to promote community organizations to serve Giraffe Laugh as the Marketing and Volunteer Coordinator. When I was younger, I participated in youth activism and social change. I have always believed in the importance of quality care and education for children; especially in considering the impact of that empowerment on the voices of our future. I am also an aunt to six beautiful nieces and nephews, which elevated my drive to contribute to early childhood education. I moved back to Boise, my home town, late 2016 to be with my family and to make a meaningful impact in the city I love. That is what led me to Giraffe Laugh in early 2017, a desire to contribute to an organization with a great mission that adds value to the community.
I am a native Idahoan and after living in several rural Idaho towns I moved to Boise with my family. I attended Borah High School and then received a bachelor’s degree at Boise State University in Accounting. I then ventured out into the new world of computers and accounting working for a subsidiary of Simplot, after which I moved to New York state for 5 ½ years with my own fledging family. While the time in New York was a great experience we found our western roots hard to leave and moved back to Idaho. After that I started my own small bookkeeping business, and over time went back to school for a master’s degree though not in accounting. I pursued one of my personal interests, history and teach several on-line classes for Boise State University as well as continue to do accounting for my favorite type of business, non-profits.I love the mission of Giraffe Laugh and the great people that this job brings me in contact with. It is rewarding to know that employees, contractors, volunteers and board members, strive to run the business in the best way possible so that the children in our centers can have a nurturing learning experience and a wide array of scholarship programs to help them obtain their goals.
Giraffe Laugh 1 Site Director
I have been with Giraffe Laugh since December of 2009 and I have been the Site Director since July of 2014. Teaching has always been my passion. I knew at an early age that I wanted to be a teacher, so I took the great leap of going back to school. I worked in the school district for a few years while I obtained my Associates degree in Elementary Education. After I graduated with this degree, I learned that I love teaching younger children.
I joined the Giraffe Laugh team as an assistant toddler teacher. I quickly learned that Giraffe Laugh is where my passion lied. Working with toddlers, I realized how special the early years are and the positive impact we as early childhood educators have on these young children. I am truly blessed and thankful for the opportunity to work in such a nurturing environment where children can learn and explore new ideas daily. I am currently working on my Bachelors in Early Childhood so I can make a bigger impact on these children. Giraffe Laugh is an amazing nonprofit early learning center that ensures school readiness, empowers families, and builds strong futures. I am grateful that I am on this team, and I cannot wait to see what the future has in store.
Giraffe Laugh 1 Assistant Site Director
I have had the pleasure of working as a part of the Giraffe Laugh team since May of 2010 with a short time off in the middle. Giraffe Laugh is a great place to work and a place where I get the honor of empowering families to stay strong and know how to help their children build strong futures. I currently work in the preschool room at Giraffe Laugh One as the lead teacher and as the assistant director. This age group is amazing to be around and always keeps you on your toes. They can pick things up so quickly and are always ready for a new challenge. I am just so lucky to be able to help them on their way to becoming great people and excelling in school. Giraffe Laugh is very different from other child care facilities because we are able to work with all different children from different cultures, family types and incomes. The diversity allows for the children to grow and learn about the differences in our world and yet at the same time see the beauty in it all. Being able to see for myself the difference that parents can make in their own lives and thus the way they can be there for their children by just having a reliable child care facility is phenomenal! Giraffe Laugh has given me an even bigger appreciation toward all of the people out there that just truly care about working together to make a great community. Thank you Giraffe Laugh for all the love you share with me on a daily basis.
Giraffe Laugh 2 Site Director
I grew up in Heppner, Oregon and moved to Boise in 1998. I will soon start the adventure of obtaining my BA in Early Childhood Education. I love the moment when a child grasps on to a concept that they have been struggling with. Having the privilege to witness the pride they feel in their accomplishment brings me the greatest amount of joy.I was a single mom with next to no education with an amazing passion for working with children. I saw an ad for a preschool teacher with Giraffe Laugh and interviewed for it. I fell in love with the children, the staff and Lori. My passion is providing a safe, healthy learning environment for children and families regardless of their ability to pay. One of my favorite parts of my job is giving tours of our program. I love spreading the word and sharing my love of Giraffe Laugh.
Giraffe Laugh 2 Assistant Site Director
My name is Laurentina Hernandez, but I go by Laura. I am from California, but I was raised in Washington. I am married to my best friend Josue. We have three wonderful children named Isai, Kayla, and Jazmin. My hobbies are spending time with my family, collecting turtles, nail polish and sunflowers. I’ve been in Early Childhood for 20 years. 11 of them have been with Giraffe Laugh. Working with children has always been my passion. I love to see the children grow and learn new things. Teaching is a big part of my life and my heart. I am eternally grateful for all that the children have taught me. I chose Giraffe Laugh because it is more than just a job… for me, it is a family.
Giraffe Laugh 3 Site Director
My name is Maria Guadalupe Werner but family and friends call me Lupita or Pita for the kids. I have been married to my great husband David for over twenty years. We have two wonderful children that mean the world to us, Gabriela and Michael.I was born in Guadalajara, Mexico and when I was nine years old we came to the United States. It was a great opportunity for all of my family. I am the middle child of five children. As I was growing up I was always helping my mom take
care of my siblings. Even though I wasn’t the oldest I was looked up to as the caregiver, helper and referee when needed. I believe that’s how I learned to be patient and very dependable. My first experience working with children was at a community college. I was taking some ECE classes and part of my work was to go to the childcare center. I believe that’s what started my career with toddlers and preschoolers.Last year I completed my CDA which allows me to use the knowledge I learned to benefit the babies and teachers at GL3. My goal is to continue being part of the young lives of both moms and children. I would like to continue to grow and gain more experience as a supervisor.
Giraffe Laugh 3 Assistant Site Director/
Summer Program Director
I was born in Monterey Park, California and have lived in Boise since I was 3-years-old. My passion for teaching comes from the fulfilling feeling when I see children learn for the very first time. I first started with Giraffe Laugh because I needed a job and had experience working for my mother’s at-home childcare center. I stayed because I love everything Giraffe Laugh stands for; teaching children, empowering parents and helping teenage mothers graduate. My passion is being able to give the babies a safe environment and teach their young mommies how to care for them.
Giraffe Laugh 4 Site Director
I am originally from Sacramento, California but have been residing in Boise, Idaho for almost 11 years. As a teacher the thrill of children getting excited because they finally accomplished a goal that they have been working on for so long is a rewarding experience. Education is an important part of growing up and giving children the opportunity to grow and thrive in the most important stages of development is where my heart lies. I am not in the classrooms as much, but my passion for teaching resides in positively empowering and encouraging my staff members to be the best educators they can be. We are all here for a reason and that is building a better future for the newer generation.
I first got involved with Giraffe Laugh back in 2005 where I was a toddler teacher at the Giraffe Laugh 2 location. I left in 2008 and went back to school to further my education and I began working for the YMCA in their preschool/school age program part time. During that time I still always found my way back to Giraffe Laugh in volunteer situations, such as Hyde Park Street Fair, so I guess you can say I could never leave Giraffe Laugh and knew at some point I would be back. Here I am 10 years later and working for Giraffe Laugh once again as their new site director for their 4th location. I love the mission and the advocacy that Giraffe Laugh has built in the community and I want to contribute my time and energy to the cause for a better future.
“The beautiful thing about learning is that no one can take it away from you” B.B. King
Giraffe Laugh 4 Assistant Site Director
My name is Kendall Moreland and I am from Boise. I have been working for Giraffe Laugh since February 2015. Along with my work at Giraffe Laugh, I am also the president of a non-profit organization called Frisbee For Freedom which raises money to end human trafficking. My main goal and passion is to end human trafficking all over the world. During the time I have been working for Giraffe Laugh, I have gained a new perspective on life. Being surrounded by children on a daily basis has really shown me how important children are. I never realized how being around children can help you in everyday life. They have taught me to not be so worried about things that may come up in life but to make every day the best it can be. They have also taught me the importance of loving people unconditionally. There may be times when the children are screaming, not listening, and are upset with me but within a few minutes they are back to their normal selves and telling me that they love me. That is one of the most rewarding parts of this job. No matter how bad my day might be going, the children are always there to brighten my day and make me feel better. And I can’t forget my awesome co-workers who are always there for me as well. Giraffe Laugh is an amazing place to work and I couldn’t ask for anything better.