Leadership Team

Co-Director, Center for Neurodiversity, Learning, and Wellness / Clinical Professor and Co-Director, Center for Neurodiversity, Learning, and Wellness

Niki Elliott is a clinical professor of education at the University of La Verne’s La Fetra College of Education. She currently serves as Co-Director of the Center for Neurodiversity, Learning and Wellness, and is a published author, speaker and expert in the fields of mindfulness, holistic education and mind/body healing. An experienced educator, Niki has taught students of all ages, from elementary school through university level over the past 25 years. She presently teaches educational neurobiology, neurodiversity and mindfulness for graduate students earning a master’s degree in Special Education. She is a staunch advocate for students with special needs and learning differences.

Niki is the founder of The Innerlight Method, a holistic mindfulness-based wellness program that helps highly sensitive people increase self-regulation and restore emotional/physical balance. The Innerlight Method is specifically designed to support the socio-emotional and energetic well-being of students who struggle with mood, learning and behavior challenges. She trains school teachers, psychologists, social workers, ministers, life coaches, and other helping professionals to utilize this modality with both children and adults.

Niki earned a bachelor’s degree at UC Berkeley, a master’s degree and teaching credential at Teachers College, Columbia University and a PhD in Education from UCLA. She also has trained for more than 15 years in various holistic healing modalities including mindfulness meditation, Usui Reiki and Kundalini Yoga.

Associate Professor, Education, Special Education Program

Dr. Amber Bechard is an Associate Professor of Education in the Special Education Program in LaFetra College of Education at University of La Verne. She serves as the Associate Director of Literacy and Outreach for the Center for Neurodiversity, Learning, and Wellness and is guiding the launch of the LaFetra College of Education dyslexia teacher training program. Dr. Bechard’s research interests include teacher preparation, inclusive education, co-teaching, multicultural education, dyslexia, Twice Exceptional children and global competency in teacher education. She teaches courses on assessment and literacy, and supports student teachers and interns in the schools. She offers professional development in dyslexia, differentiated instruction, co-teaching, Universal Design for Learning and multicultural education.

She has 28 years of experience as a classroom teacher in elementary, middle school and special education. Her practitioner expertise includes several years spent as a Curriculum Development Specialist and teacher in gifted and inclusive general education settings. She earned her Ed.D. in Curriculum & Instruction from Aurora University, her M.Ed. from National-Louis University and earned her Bachelor of Arts at the University of Redlands. She holds an Education Specialist Clear Credential earned at University of California Los Angeles, National Board for Certification in Early Adolescent Literacy and California Teaching Credentials in Elementary Education K-9, Middle School Language Arts & Social Science, Education Specialist PK-12.

Her recent publication, “One Teacher’s Journey: An examination of the link between evolving teacher identity and practice and the changing socio-political context of education,” published in Challenges Associated with Cross-Cultural and At-Risk Student Engagement, tells of her own evolution as an educator in rapidly changing times.