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Barry Darnell (Nickerson)

Senior Director of Higher Education Initiatives

As senior director of higher education initiatives, Barry  (pronouns: he/him/his) engages with CAEL’s higher education and workforce partners to uncover and resolve inequities in access and success. As a subject matter expert in institutional assessment and change management, he engages with statewide, regional, and international higher education systems to elevate adult learner success.

Prior to joining CAEL in 2016, Barry managed Rhode Island’s Governor’s Workforce Board healthcare industry partnership, oversaw the implementation of RI’s first statewide Nurse Residency program, and served on the executive board for the State Implementation Plan for the Institute of Medicine’s Future of Nursing report recommendations. His experience includes career and academic advising, designing and implementing articulation agreements, implementing community-to-college pathways, and convening employer and education stakeholders to address talent gaps through strategic partnerships.

Barry earned his B.S. from Rhode Island College, an M.B.A. from Providence College, and a graduate certificate in higher education leadership and an M.Ed. from UMass - Amherst.  A resident of St. Louis, Missouri, Barry is passionate about inclusivity in athletics. He serves on his rugby club’s executive committee as vice president and plays internationally.

Links to Related Work

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Areas of Expertise

Barry has extensive experience working with higher education institutions and systems to develop high-impact strategies for supporting adult learner success. He has led successful, innovative workforce on-ramps programs as an intermediary that connected employers, higher education providers, community-based organizations, and unemployed adults to build fast-track, relevant training programs - inclusive of multiple, stackable industry credentials - that led to in-demand, local, good jobs and backfilled prerequisites for degrees in health care. Barry’s current research focuses on adult learner success outcomes to build a framework that helps postsecondary education providers effectively support adults on their career and academic pathways.

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