Dr. María Luisa Parra-Velasco

María Luisa Parra-Velasco is on the faculty of the Department of Romance Languages and Literatures at Harvard University. She has a B.A. in Psychology and earned her Ph.D in Hispanics Linguistics from El Colegio de Mexico. For over twenty years, she has taught courses on the Spanish language and Latin American cultures at Boston University and at Harvard. She is part of a national initiative to develop new approaches for teaching Spanish to Latino youth and has pioneered two courses for Latino students at Harvard. Her courses are valued for their strong use of community engagement and visual arts.  Along with Dr. Elvira Di Fabio in the Italian program at Harvard, Parra-Velasco designed the initiative “Language through the visual arts: An interdisciplinary partnership” that works closely with Harvard Museums to develop fuller learning experiences in the target languages. In 2019, Parra-Velasco’s creative and cutting-edge work was recognized by Babson University  with the 2019 Most Innovative Professors Award. 

She also has broad experience working closely with immigrant families and children. She was coordinator of the Home-School Connection Program at the Elliot-Pearson Department of Child Development at Tufts University where she looked at the various ways in which parents and teachers supported transitions, school adaptation and academic success. In 2008 she continued and expanded her work as a postdoctoral fellow at Stanford University School of Education working with Mexican and African American children attending East Palo Alto public schools. Based on an ecological theoretical model, Dr. Parra’s work focuses on how parents and teachers impact bilingual development through daily interactions. 

A native Spanish speaker from Mexico City, and a mother of two bilingual and bicultural sons, Dr. Parra has always been fascinated by the complexities and joys of bilingual development. She enjoys working with parents and teachers in training who seek to understand and enhance the road to multilingualism. 

William Schawbel

William (Bill) Schawbel, Chief Executive Officer of Schawbel Companies, was the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of The Schawbel Corporation, a business formed in 1981 through the acquisition of two divisions from The Gillette Company.  Bill sold The Schawbel Corporation in 2014, along with its successful ThermaCELL Mosquito Repellant business, and retained ThermaCELL Heated Products under Schawbel Technologies LLC.

Prior to founding The Schawbel Corporation, Bill held senior management positions with The Gillette Company, including President of Gillette – Japan and President of Braun North America.  His marketing and management experience includes significant contributions to many of Gillette’s divisions within the United States and internationally, with particular success in the areas of acquisitions and new business development.

Over the past thirty-five years, Bill created and sold over thirty companies covering a wide array of consumer products in personal care, housewares, hardware, food and drug, and pest control.  He has built relationships with quality offshore manufacturers and, through his University of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) connections, a broad and deep network of industry experts.

Bill’s in-depth knowledge and relationships in the consumer products market allow for real-time assessment of opportunities with optimal results.  His experience and knowledge base is a critical competitive factor in the success of the Schawbel consulting practice.

As a graduate of the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Bill served his alma mater as a Trustee, Chair of the Board of Overseers for the School of Veterinary Medicine, and Co-Chair of the James Brister Society (Penn’s Diversity Board).

Bill is an alumnus of the Boston Latin School, where he has served as President of the School’s Foundation and chaired its Capital Campaign Committee.  His passions related to public education, diversity, and entrepreneurship have kept him involved in Junior Achievement for over fifty years, both at the local chapter level as past chair of Junior Achievement of Northern New England and internationally as a board member of Junior Achievement International.  Bill was a founding member of the Center for Women & Enterprise, an organization that builds successful businesses through education and training.  He was also a founding member of EdVestors, a school improvement organization that combines strategic philanthropy, education expertise, and implementation support to help schools create the conditions for school change.

In addition, Bill was a vice-chair of the Boston Museum of Science along with engineering projects for their facilities that required collaboration with global companies such as General Electric Company and Johnson Controls, Inc.

Bill served in the military as a Captain in the U.S. Army.

David Simon

Board Treasurer

David Simon webDavid Simon is a founding trustee of the Simon Brothers Family Foundation which focuses on school-based initiatives in Boston and New York City, aimed at strengthening teaching and learning in urban schools and improving student academic achievement. He is a 25-year board member of Inspire Arts and Music, a Boston-based youth arts education organization serving thousands of students with a focus on music, dance and marching arts. Mr. Simon was previously Senior Vice President of Medical Information Systems before its merger with Summit Medical in 1995 and currently serves on the governing board of the Gardner Pilot Academy in Allston, Mass. He graduated from Brandeis University in 1979 and holds an MBA in Public and Nonprofit Management from Boston University.