Providing day treatment, Pathways, and employment programs.

Pathways Program

Individualized program focusing on developing functional skills for maximum independence.

LIFE Academy

Day Treatment & Training Afterschool (DTT)

Individualized treatment provided after school hours focused on enhancing social skills

Day Treatment & Training Summer (DTS)

Individualized treatment in a summer camp format focused on enhancing social skills

Adult Day Treatment (DTA)

Individualized programming for adults to improve functional and independent living skills

Transition to Employment (TTE)

Assisting consumers to enhance necessary skills for employment

Group Supported Employment (GSE)

Employment with the support needed for success


ASHLEY WATZKEDirector of Day Treatment, Transition, and Employment


As the Director of Day Treatment, Transition, and Employment Services I oversee a variety of programs within our organization. I train and assist staff throughout their day, I make great efforts to best support all staff so they can best serve our consumers.  My job is not only to train and support our staff, but to ensure our programming is the best it can be.

Career History:

I have been lucky to work in different settings since August of 2008, serving children and adults with developmental disabilities.  I have been with L.I.F.E. since July 2013 where I started as a habilitation provider in the community and then later in the adult program on campus. I quickly fell in love with the values, morals and support L.I.F.E. offered to not only the consumers but also to staff. I felt privileged to become and serve as a teacher in the academy, later growing into Student Services Supervisor. I’m lucky to serve on our Leadership Team, with many other individuals.

Personal Teaching Philosophy:

“Love what you do and never work a day in your life”

      – Unknown


 I have been married to my best friend for almost 8 years now and when we are not at work, you can find us chasing around our crazy wild daughters. In 2015, while I was teaching pre-school within the L.I.F.E. Academy, I had a student that at the time was in search of her forever home. Little did I know this little girl would become a huge part of my husband and my life. We adopted her in 2017 and she is now our daughter!  As a family we enjoy weekends at home hanging out with our family and going camping when we can!  We absolutely live for football season and the Arizona Cardinals; we won’t miss a game.

RENEE VALENCIADTA Administrative Supervisor

Career History:

  • I started at L.I.F.E. 5 years ago and had been working with consumers with disabilities 4 years prior to L.I.F.E. I have always worked in the adult program and enjoy serving these amazing people every day.

Personal Teaching Philosophy:

  • I believe everyone has the right to live a wonderful and fulfilled life and if I can contribute to that process, I’m proud to do so.


  • I love crocheting and enjoy scrapbooking in my spare time.
HEIDI RIFFLELead Employment Coordinator

Career History

In 2014 I started working at a group home not knowing that years later I would still be working in this field and loving it. I joined the L.I.F.E. team in 2019 where I worked part-time assisting in Transition to Employment and part-time as a Direct Support Professional in the DTA. In 2021 I got the privilege of running the TTE program full time with both a class in the morning and the afternoon.

Teaching Philosophy

I believe every person has the potential to learn and grow. I like to find creative and fun ways to help different people learn in different ways that work for them.


In 2016, I moved from Minnesota to Arizona with my dog, Moe. My parents, sister, and my niece all live here too. I get to spend a lot of time with them. I also have a brother who is in the Army.  When I’m not at work, I am usually working on some type of craft or going to a concert.

JULIE SWEETGSE Lead Direct Support Professional


As the GSE Lead DSP I facilitate 3 jobs the consumers have around campus.


  • I attended Mt. Hood Community College. Gresham, OR
  • I have over 100 hours of Special Education training.
  • 3 years of Transition training

Career History:

I have worked in Special Education for the past 27 years. I have worked in 5 states from K- 12th grade. My favorite job prior to working at L.I.F.E. was as a Transition Specialist for Mesa Public Schools. I received intense training and mentoring to help develop a new transition program for their school district. I came to L.I.F.E. in July 2018 as a part of the transition team.


I am originally from Portland, Oregon. I have been married to my high school sweetheart for 39 years. I have two children and two grandsons that are the light of my life.

JENNIFER EISENBEISPathways Lead Instructor


I am the Pathways Lead Instructor for the Home Ec. Lab.

Career History:

I have been at L.I.F.E. since 2018, I was previously in the DTA, and this will be my second year in the Transition Department. Prior to L.I.F.E., I was selling home and auto insurance. I realized I needed something more fulfilling, and more fun, so I leaned on my twenty years working in preschools and before/after school programs and found Lauren’s Institute. Best decision I’ve ever made!

ISABEL VELENCIAPathways Lead Instructor


I am the Pathways Lead Instructor for the Skills Lab.

Career History:

I have been at L.I.F.E. for almost 6 years, and 3 have been as a Lead. I started my career in high school when I helped start up my school’s bronco buddies and unified sports. Before I left I helped create more than 6 fun programs for anyone and everyone to be able to join. I knew my love for helping those who can’t help themselves and I would be in this field. I fall more in love each year. I believe anyone can overcome any difficult obstacle in life with some support from those around them and I can’t wait to see how much we grow together.

EMINA KARAMUSTAFICPathways Lead Instructor


I am the Pathways Lead Instructor for the Vocational Lab.

Career History:

I have been with L.I.F.E. for 4 amazing years now, three of those years I have been working as a Lead. I began my working career in customer service and knew I wanted to make an impact in the lives of students. I then found L.I.F.E., began my journey here, and loved everything about my job here.

CARRA CALDWELLPathways Lead Instructor


I am the Pathways Lead Instructor for the Social Lab.

Career History:

I have been with L.I.F.E. for five years now, four of those years I have been working as a Lead Paraprofessional. I recently graduated from Arizona State University with my masters in Applied Behavior Analysis and am working towards my BCBA. I have always wanted to help people be the best people they can be. Finding Lauren’s Institute for Education has made this dream become a reality. Every day I come and am blown away by the progress made by all the kids. I am excited to continue this dream every day with your children!

Contact Us for More Information About L.I.F.E.

call us at 480-621-8361 EXT 136 or complete this form

    AcademyAdult ProgramBehavioral SupportCommunity ServicesTherapyDonationsEmploymentStudentsVolunteerOther