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!

Ernie1 (3)

Ernest J. Hall, MA

Chief Operations Officer // ehall@nvblindchildren.org

Ernie has worked in the nonprofit sector since 1998 providing direct services to individuals, executive leadership, and governance.  Ernie grew up in Northwest Ohio and attended Capital University where he received Bachelor of Arts degree in communications and religion.  In 1992 he relocated to Las Vegas to attend UNLV and completed his Master of Arts in Theatre.  Ernie’s nonprofit experience includes positions at Easterseals Crossroads and Easterseals Nevada.  Before moving into the nonprofit sector, Ernie had a 10 year career in hospitality management and was part of the opening of both the Paris Las Vegas Hotel and The New Aladdin.  Ernie returns to Ohio each January to visit family and conduct a “winter weekend” leadership retreat for the active brothers of Delta Lambda Phi.

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.

Katherine “Kat” Margolies

Katherine "Kat" Margolies

Assistant Preschool Teacher

Katherine, Kat or Miss Kat, no matter how you call for her, she answers!  Kat, a native of New Jersey, moved to Las Vegas to attend UNLV. During that time she began working at NBCF in 2017 as a Program Coordinator.  In 2019 Kat graduated UNLV with a degree in Hospitality Management and she was promoted to Lead Program Coordinator of Nevada Blind Children's Foundation. During her time with NBCF Kat has overseen a number of our afterschool programs including STEAM, Life Skills, Recreation, and more. She was so inspired working at NBCF she has decided to now pursue a master's degree in Special Education. In January 2020 Kat was named Teacher's Assistant for Children's Learning Center sponsored by Nevada Blind Children's Foundation, in April she was promoted to Assistant Preschool Teacher. Kat is also a very skilled artist and often uses her talents on special projects with the students.  Fun fact about Miss Kat, she is a twin!  Kat is a certified 4-H instructor, she is pursuing a certificate in Tutoring and she is learning to site read Braille. Kat says her favorite thing about working with the students at NBCF is that every day they teach her something new.

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.

Holly Spoor

Director of Marketing & Special Events // hspoor@nvblindchildren.org

Holly is the Director of Marketing and Special Events for Nevada Blind Children’s Foundation. Born in Montana, she considers herself a lifelong resident of Las Vegas. Holly graduated from UNLV with a degree in Communications. She has worked for local media companies and advertising agencies and served as the Assistant Public Relations Manager for Planet Hollywood Café Las Vegas. Holly also worked in the nonprofit sector for Opportunity Village as a Special Events Manager and the Resource Development Director from 2006 to 2010.  Prior to joining NBCF, Holly was the Digital Sales and Marketing Manager for FOX5 from 2010 to 2018.  Holly is an animal advocate; she has two rescue cats and she enjoys hiking in her spare time. Holly’s volunteer efforts include past work with Make A Wish of Southern Nevada, Big Brothers Big Sisters of So. Nevada, and the Chaparral High School Alumni Golf Tournament.