TEAM empowerED

 Nicole Kaplan  MaSpEd, ET/P

  Educational Therapist  +  empowerED Founder

"Everyone is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”  -Albert Einstein

Educational therapy empowers students with academic struggles to learn and develop efficient new approaches to learning, positively affecting a student's life in and out of school. Through skilled assessment, case management and specialized alternative teaching methods, Nicole offers clients a wide variety of intensive, individualized interventions aimed at remediating student's unique learning difficulties, addressing social and emotional roadblocks affecting performance and optimizing all areas of executive functioning.

Nicole Kaplan received her undergraduate degree in English Literature, with an emphasis in Education, from the University of California, Los Angeles.  She went on to earn her Masters degree in Special Education with a specialization in Educational Therapy from California State University Northridge. She is also an active member of the Association of Educational Therapists. 

For over two decades, Nicole has seen clients in a private practice setting collaborating with students, parents, teachers, learning specialists, psychologists, and neuropsychologists to create a game plan tailored to her client's specific academic and emotional needs. She works from a strengths-based perspective, helping students overcome or compensate for learning challenges. 


In addition to her extensive academic knowledge in the Educational Therapy field, she is highly intuitive when it comes to client's needs.  Having grown up with learning challenges of her own, being diagnosed with ADHD as an adult and having three children with three very different learning styles and emotional needs, she is able to empathize with parents,  educators and students...she wears three hats.

Nicole's ultimate goal for each student: 

academic independence 


  Lisa Laurence  MBAMaSpEd

Learning Specialist+Orton Gillingham Certified

Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world” – Nelson Mandela.

 Rachel Windler MAT

Learning Specialist

“The purpose of education is to replace an empty mind with an open one.” - Malcolm Forbes

Lisa left Los Angeles and headed east to Tulane University where she received her undergraduate degree in English and Political Science.  Following Tulane she headed back to the west coast and received her MBA from Pepperdine University. After graduate school,  Lisa worked for corporate companies such as Walt Disney and the Los Angeles Times as a financial analyst. 


Life brought Lisa, her husband and two young children to Hong Kong for 12 years.   While in Hong Kong, in addition to having a third child, Lisa decided to turn her true passion of helping children with learning struggles into a reality.   Lisa studied at Hong Kong Polytechnic University where she earned a master's degree in Special Education.  This led to her working in a school and working with children one on one. She later became certified in Orton-Gillingham (a research-based phonics program).


For over 12 years, Lisa has been working with children who struggle with all different types of learning differences. Lisa has a range of experience including supporting children with executive function weaknesses, working with gifted children, and supporting children with dyslexia and reading deficits. Lisa truly enjoys working with children.  One of Lisa’s greatest assets is drawing children in, giving them a space to feel safe in taking academic risks and making the learning process exciting and creative for every student she sees.

Rachel grew up in West Los Angeles.  When Rachel was in high school she knew she wanted to work with children following volunteering at local libraries reading with children of various ages.  Their potential, openness, willingness was inspirational to her and she knew teaching would be an avenue she wanted to pursue.


Inspired by her history teachers for as long as she can remember, Rachel chose to attended UCLA where she studied her passion and proudly received a BA in the subject that had motivated her curiosity and love of learning. 


After college, she spent 2 years getting valuable elementary classroom exposure and decided to pursue a Masters in Teaching with a secondary Social Studies Credential from USC.  Since then, she has taught history, grades sixth through eighth, at local private and public schools.  


Rachel couples her firm belief all students have the ability to access the curriculum in the right environment and proper scaffolding, with her innate ability at incorporating a variety of pedagogical methods which has proved to breed success in her sessions with the students.  


Passionate about the subject of history and love of reading and writing, Rachel hopes to impart this excitement to the students she works with while fostering an intellectual curiosity about the world we live in and how it came to be.



Joelle attended New York University where she majored in Global Liberal Studies, and minored in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies. During her senior year, she realized that her true passion was in psychology and addressing many of the stigmas around mental health. Joelle therefore completed an honors thesis: The Stigma of Depression in Relation to Mental Health Care. As her interested in psychology grew, Joelle subsequently enrolled in, and completed, a psychology post-baccalaureate certificate at Columbia University. 


Upon completion of her certificate, Joelle has served as a program, clinical and research coordinator at various psychology clinics and research programs. Each new experience has solidified Joelle’s love of working with teens and young adults to help them navigate their own mental health and adapt with the world around them. 


Joelle recently moved back to LA and is planning to pursue her PhD in Clinical Psychology."


In her free time, Joelle enjoys baking, yoga and trying new restaurants. 

  Joelle Dorse BA

empowerED Coordinator and Homework/ EF Coach

"Never stop learning because life never stops teaching" -Unknown 

 Chelsea Leifken





Tutor + Art Instructor 

  Mariana Gonzalez

Spanish Guru +  Tutor

Chelsea Leifken is a fine artist and art teacher — based in Los Angeles. 


After receiving a bachelor's degree in Business Management from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising/FIDM, Chelsea Leifken turned her love for art into an eponymous brand. While building her brand, Chelsea rediscovered her love for teaching art whilst nannying and tutoring children of all ages. At her core is a strong belief of living a life of service, as she spends her free time working with children — from volunteering with nonprofits, to hosting private art classes, to teaching younger students throughout greater  Los Angeles.  


Chelsea has partnered with nonprofits across Los Angeles to provide unique art programs that foster creative expression through a variety of art mediums weaving in various aspects of grade-appropriate educational information. Many schools in the LA school district have also welcomed Chelsea to both create and produce murals — all of which have involved each school’s respective students from start to finish. 


In Chelsea’s free time she loves to explore the outdoors, meditate, journal, and exercise. Also as a Brand Ambassador for Lululemon, Chelsea has been recognized as an inspirational voice promoting self-love.


Chelsea is grateful to positively impact her students in both school and in life  — especially during uncertain times like these.  She brings to every lesson an immense level of patience and compassion.  She prides herself in always holding an empowering space for each child to feel supported and heard while fostering positive self-esteem and the courage to take risks within the academic arena.  With a balance of harnessing both left and right brain, Chelsea is able to merge creativity and education to make learning a truly enjoyable experience for each of her students.

Mariana was born in Caracas, Venezuela, grew up in Houston, Texas, and went to high school in Bogotá, Colombia, where the rest of her family resides. She moved to Los Angeles 3 years ago to attend UCLA where she is majoring in Political Science and minoring in Public Affairs. Mariana is graduating this June from UCLA in only three years. After her graduation, Mariana plans on working a few months before applying to law school in the fall.  Public interest law is where her passion lies. 


In Mariana’s free time, she loves binge watching New Girl, listening to podcasts, and is training for a half marathon!


Mariana’s love of work with children began when loved her little sister, who is now in the 7th grade, was born. In addition to this being an asset of her, Mariana takes pride in the strong bonds she creates with her students.  She easily, confidently and authentically establishes a strong foundation of trust between herself and the clients enabling productive time spent working with one another. 

845 Via de la Paz

    Pacific Palisades, California 90272



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