Meet the Team

Nicole Gardner

Headshot of Nicole GardnerNicole Gardner is the Program Director of Perkins School for the Blind’s Career Launch @ Perkins. She brings to the job more than 30 years of relevant experience, having notably served as both a management consultant and the Chief Human Resources Officer of Oliver Wyman, an international consulting firm. Most recently she was the Chief Diversity & Inclusion Officer at Marsh & McLennan Companies, where she led the development of programs designed to help MMC succeed by creating an inclusive culture in which diverse talent could thrive and contribute. 

Alicia Smith

Headshot of Alicia SmithAlicia Smith is the Associate Director of Training with Perkins School for the Blind's Career Launch @ Perkins. Prior to joining Perkins, she served three-plus years as a training manager at a Boston-based social enterprise working with system-involved youth. There, she focused on providing job training in practical business settings. Before that, she spent more than two years as a Training Specialist in Ethiopia for the U.S. Peace Corps, working with English teachers, teaching K-10 English, running programs to promote girls leadership and training youth in HIV/AIDS prevention and awareness. Alicia holds an MBA from Suffolk University and a BS in Hospitality Management from Johnson & Wales University.

Brian Switzer

Headshot of Brian SwitzerBrian Switzer is the Assistive Technology Instructor with Perkins School for the Blind’s Career Launch @ Perkins. A high school math teacher earlier in his career, Switzer became interested in assistive technology after losing his own vision. Since, he has consulted with a number of fitness-minded tech firms like RunKeeper and Strava to make their digital applications more accessible. Switzer is also an outspoken advocate for people with blindness, low vision and deafblindness and holds a Master’s Degree in Public Policy from Suffolk University. He’s the author of “Walk In My Shoes: An Anthology of Usher Syndrome,” and has run marathons across the country, from Boston to Alaska.

Deana Criess

Headshot of Deana CriessDeana Criess is the Associate Director of Recruiting and Admissions for Career Launch @ Perkins. An educator with more than 20 years experience, she has worked in a wide variety of inclusive classrooms at the k-8, high school, college and professional development levels. She also brings to Perkins a pronounced funny bone, having spent the bulk of her career at ImprovBoston. Over her 10 years there, she created and implemented Customer Success programming for the organization’s corporate training arm, IBcreative, and pioneered a number of innovative comedy programs for diverse populations, including people with disabilities.

Angel Nash

Headshot of Angel NashAngel Nash is the Associate Director of Career Services for Career Launch @ Perkins. She is responsible for creating professional opportunities for program participants by forging partnerships with companies, corporations and businesses who value inclusivity. Before joining Perkins, Nash served as Career Services Manager at More Than Words, a nonprofit social enterprise that empowers system-involved youth to take charge of their lives. She additionally has more than 15 years experience in workforce development, program design, implementation and training and a sharp focus on uplifting populations most affected by under-employment.