Staff

Emily

Emily Smith

Chief Executive Officer // esmith@nvblindchildren.org

Emily is the Chief Executive Officer for Nevada Blind Children's Foundation (NBCF).  A long-time advocate for Southern Nevada youth, Emily has more than 13 years experience leading youth-serving nonprofit organizations - most recently as the Chief Operating Officer for Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada.

Emily has received numerous awards for her work including Vegas Inc's, Women to Watch award, and multiple Pinnacle Award's from the Public Relations Society of America.

Passionate about education, Emily is constantly in search of opportunities to improve her skill set.  She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Marketing and Business Management and several professional certificates in nonprofit management and public relations. In addition to her nonprofit work, Emily is an instructor for the continuing education department at the University of Nevada Las Vegas.

Philanthropy and volunteerism are two important words in the Smith household. Emily's husband Glenn and children Ashley and Micah support a number of Southern Nevada charities, and can often be found volunteering their time at NBCF.  When she's not working, Emily enjoys spending time with her family and their animals.  In fact, even the Smith pets have gotten into the act of giving back.  Emily and her Newfoundland Buddy are a certified Therapy Dog team, and in addition to participating in NBCF's BookTime Buddies program, Emily and Buddy also volunteer their time to visit senior centers and children's hospitals to spread some joy and maybe even a few laughs!

Debra Svab MHA BS RN CCM

Family Advocate // dsvab@nvblindchildren.org

Debbi joined Nevada Blind Children’s Foundation as the Family Advocate in 2018. Debbi is a RN and Certified Case Manager and she holds a MS in Health Administration with 30+ years of experience. While living in Las Vegas, Debbie has worked in a large trauma hospital as a case manager and director of case management, and as a military case manager at Nellis AFB. Debbie has also worked as a complex case manager for NV Medicaid FFS. She has also served the Girl Scouts as a board member, leader, service unit manager, Gold Alliance facilitator.

During her career, Debbi has received numerous awards including Nevada March of Dimes Nurse Case Manager of the Year, the FRIST Humanitarian Award from HCA Sunrise Hospital, the Thanks II Badge from Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada and the First Class Award as a girl Girl Scout. Debbi is dedicated to serving children in the Las Vegas community

Raised in Chicago, Debbi has been married for 40 years and she has two daughters. Her oldest daughter is Major in the United States Air Force, and her youngest is a teacher in Las Vegas. Debbi is active in the Blue Star Mothers program. In her spare time, she travels, plays with her dog and attends the Vegas Golden Knights games as a season ticket holder. Go Knights Go!

Maribel Garcia

Director of Programs // mgarcia@nvblindchildren.org

Maribel joined NBCF in October 2019 as the Director of Programs. Maribel holds a bachelor's degree in Business Management. Born and raised in Southern California, Maribel started her professional career in Las Vegas as a Leasing Agent for the Boulevard Mall.  Following that she worked in the Marketing department. Her first experience working with children was as a Teacher's Assistant at a daycare facility.  In 2009, Maribel went to work for Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada.  During her ten years with Girl Scouts, she managed the Program department, Adult Training, Membership, and Recruitment. Maribel enjoyed watching the girls grow and develop through the program. Maribel enjoys volunteering in the community, she currently volunteers her time with Hopelink of Southern Nevada and Helping Hands of Henderson. When she is not volunteering or working, she loves to hike, kayak, and to spend a lazy day at the beach with her family. Maribel and her husband, Zeke, have three children. Her oldest, Victoria, lives in Las Vegas and works as a Sales Rep. Her middle son, Zeke, is a Navy Officer, Special Intelligence. And, her daughter Arika, is attending the University of the Pacific, Alaska studying Marine Biology.

Mae Marquez

Mae Marquez

Lead Preschool Teacher // mmarquez@nvblindchildren.org

Mae is the Lead Preschool Teacher for Children's Learning Center (CLC) sponsored by Nevada Blind Children's Foundation. Mae joined CLC in January 2020. Mae, originally from Manila, Philippines, moved to the states in 2009 to call Las Vegas home. She brings a wealth of international education knowledge from her time in the Philippines where she received her degree in psychology from Colegio San Agustin. She served as the in-house psychology counselor at the Rising Phoenix Foundation providing support to young adults with a range of needs. Since 2001, Mae has worked as a preschool teacher in charge of a Head Start classroom working with children and families to achieve positive outcomes for children of all abilities. Mae says joining the first preschool in the state of Nevada for children who are visually impaired is a great new adventure. In her spare time, Mae enjoys reading and loves karaoke! Her go-to song is "I Will Survive."

Diane Fischer

Diane Fischer

Teacher of the Visually Impaired

Diane joined the staff of NBCF in 2015.  She leads our Dots & Tots program and provides blind specific tutoring opportunities as a certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired (TVI). Diane holds a bachelor's degree in Visually Impaired Education from Illinois State University and a master's degree in Special Education from UNLV. It was Diane's own personal experience that led her to a career in education as a TVI. Diane has a vision development disorder called amblyopia, also known as lazy eye. By the age of five, Diane was diagnosed and had her first three related eye surgeries. Diane did not let her visual impairment hold her back. She worked for the Clark County School District for 30 years and spent 15 years as a certified Teacher of the Visually Impaired. Diane worked at various schools including Burkholder Middle School, Del Sol and Basic High School. She taught Braille as an Itinerant Vision Teacher and was instrumental in contributing to the development of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). She also holds several certifications and endorsements working with elementary students with special needs and visual impairments.  After retiring from the school district, Diane took a year off before joining NBCF. Diane is married with two kids and she loves traveling, knitting, quilting and needlepoint and she is a huge Vegas Golden Knights fan.

Paula Farrell

Director of Finances & Facilities // pfarrell@nvblindchildren.org

Paula is the Director of Finance and Facilities for Nevada Blind Children’s Foundation.  Paula was born in Florida and moved to Las Vegas at the age of six.  She has a degree in Accounting and previously worked in the construction industry for over 20 years before transitioning to the non-profit sector.  Paula worked for Girl Scouts of Southern Nevada as the Director of Finance for five years before joining NBCF in 2017. Paula also serves at the Troop Leader for Girl Scout Troop 35 at NBCF; she herself has been a Girl Scout for over 35 years.  Paula enjoys spending time with her family and enjoying the outdoors gardening, camping, fishing and ATV riding.

Robin Lamb

Development Assistant // rlamb@nvblindchildren.org

Robin is the part-time Development Assistant for Nevada Blind Children's Foundation. She was born in Burbank, California and migrated to Las Vegas in 1996. Robin worked in the financial and legal fields from 1983 - 2009 (and commuted between Nevada and California for those years). Once in Las Vegas full-time, she continued working as a legal secretary before taking time off to care for her mother. Initially volunteering with NBCF for a month for the Ladybug Ball fundraising gala, Robin was hired in March of 2016 as the Executive Assistant. Married for nearly 24 years, she and her husband, Gregory, are the parents of a visually impaired daughter, Carly, who was a former NBCF participant/ambassador since 6th grade and is now a current Program Coordinator at NBCF while she attends UNLV. Robin loves her two rescue cats, reading, swimming, traveling (especially to Disneyland or any tropical destination) and she enjoys spending time with her family. She is also employed full-time at a call center as an Elite Resolutions Manager.