The Future of Specialized + Targeted Education

Session Description

In this engaging hour, you’ll discover best practices and obstacles within the field of Specialized Education: Targeted Education, Special Ed, and Gifted Education.

Meet the Panel

Michelle Barmazel, MC-MPA,  MBA


Marlon Davis, Ed.M.


Emily Villamar-Robbins, A.B., J.D.


Hannah Shin, Ed.M.


Sector Experts:

Michelle Barmazel, MC-MPA,  MBA (she/her): She is the co-president of the Massachusetts Association for Gifted Education. She has spent the past 10 years working in the field of Gifted Education after transitioning from the world of business. She consults worldwide and sits on several boards. She currently works with families with gifted children to help them find more appropriate educational paths. Michelle has an MC-MPA from the Kennedy School where she focused on gifted education policy. She also has an MBA from Stanford and was formerly a consultant with McKinsey & Co.

Marlon Davis, Ed.M.(he/his): Marlon has amassed over 25 years of urban public and charter school education experience. His work experience has also provided him with the opportunity to serve in a number of states throughout the country, which has deepened his knowledge and understanding of the challenges that educators face regardless of zip code. Marlon’s professional career in education began in 1994 as a member of Teach for America with the New Jersey Teacher Corps. As an elementary school teacher, his experiences reaffirmed his passion for ensuring high rates of student success and family engagement. It is this drive that led him to pursue a master’s degree in education and assume a leadership position in school administration. In 1998, Marlon received his Ed.M. in Administration, Planning, and Social Policy via the Principal’s Certification Pattern from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. During his tenure in administration, Marlon has served as an Assistant Principal and Principal in traditional K-12 settings and as the Executive Director of a charter school. As Executive Director, Marlon was successful in turning around The Benjamin Banneker Charter Public School, located in the city of Cambridge, into one of the highest performing charter schools in the city.

Marlon went on to assist in the creation of a start-up education software company, Design by Educators, Inc., now called Validated Learning, Inc. ( The mission of the company is to create smart technology products for educators that save time and provide instant data that can be used to impact instruction. The first product, QuickKey, is an app for iOS and Android devices that uses the camera to turn the smartphone into an optical scanner, so that multiple choice assessments and other information can be scanned, assessed, and analyzed quickly. The app is now available on iTunes and via Google for Android devices. Marlon has served as the Chief Operating Officer and Director of School and District Engagements for Validated Learning Co. He has been very interested in Executive Function skills as a way to boost student achievement in students from low-income environments and gateway cities. Currently, Marlon is an Executive Function Specialist/Family Engagement Manager at the Acera School of Innovation, Creativity, and Leadership.

Emily Villamar-Robbins, A.B., J.D. (she/her): She is a parent of two students in Texas public schools and a volunteer for local and state organizations supporting public education. She is a graduate of Harvard Law School, completed a graduate certificate in gifted education, and has served as a member of the Texas Commissioner of Education’s Advisory Council for Gifted Education since 2018. She serves on the founding board of the Gifted Education Family Network.

Hannah Shin, Ed.M.(she/her): She graduated from Wellesley College with a B.A. in Psychology and Elementary Education, from Harvard University Graduate School of Education with an M.Ed. in Human Development and Psychology (Concentration in Culture and Human Development), and from Simmons University with an Ed.S. in Applied Behavior Analysis. Her experiences in education range from teaching in a general education classroom to working with a private organization primarily serving individuals diagnosed with autism and their families. Hannah currently works as a Behavior Specialist for Cambridge Public Schools in Massachusetts and is committed deeply to identifying and dismantling racism in all areas at all levels, particularly in regards to its impacts on the schooling experiences of children of color. She hopes HAEd will create avenues through which such work can be accomplished in multiple arenas in partnership with like-minded individuals.Amelia E. Thompson, B.A., Ed.M. (she/her): For more than 12 years, Amelia has provided strategy, fundraising, monitoring and evaluation, program design, project management, and leadership development support to social entrepreneurs, faith-based leaders, businesses and nonprofit organizations. She completed studies at Vassar College and graduate studies at St. John’s University and Harvard University. She co-founded a social impact organization, RenewToday, which works with individuals and organizations to develop their leadership capacity in the areas of mercy, justice, and community.


Dr. Crystal Rose, M.D., Ph.D. (she/her): As Vice President for The University Network, she is a recognized educator, scientist, academic lecturer, and educational program designer. She has international expertise in broad sectors, from medicine, research, and academia to the media productions industry, which recently awarded her an Emmy. Her research-based approach to systems analysis, data integration, program implementation, and academic advising is both innovative and holistic. Her cutting-edge initiatives have launched some of today’s top young leaders featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 and “Time’s Best of 2021,” including current poet laureate, Amanda Gorman. Since completing her M.D., Ph.D. at the University of Heidelberg and Harvard, she serves on various NPOs and educational boards and is a founding member of the U.N.-appointed Future of Capital Group

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