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Who We Are


Zelda Roland

Founding Director, YPEI

Zelda is a Yale alumna (BA `08 PhD`16) who conceived of and created YPEI after working with students enrolled in Wesleyan's Center for Prison Education at Cheshire Correctional Institution.​ She coordinates YPEI's partnership with the Connecticut Department of Corrections and its facilities; relationships with other national and statewide prison education programs and criminal justice organizations; and a passionate and broad assembly of Yale faculty, administrators, staff, and students who believe that our program represents the best of Yale's values and visions for the future.

Tracy Westmoreland

Danbury Site Director / Transfer Counselor

"Tracy Westmoreland is a long-time resident of New Haven, CT and the current Site Director for the Yale Prison Education Initiative (YPEI). Currently all his energies are being put towards building new programming for an incoming cohort of students at Danbury Federal Correctional Institute. This will be YPEI's first female cohort and second site overall. Previously, Tracy worked for the Missouri Department of Higher Education expanding prison education programming in the Midwest and is part of the Vera Correctional Education Leadership Academy."

Vanessa Estimé

Assistant Director, YPEI

Vanessa Estimé serves as Assistant Director for the Yale Prison Education Initiative at Dwight Hall at Yale. She has worked in higher education, the judicial branch of state government, and non-profit community agencies in New Haven and Bridgeport (Connecticut) since 2011. Vanessa received her BS in Legal Studies from the University of New Haven, and MSW from Simmons College School of Social Work. She is a licensed social worker and certified childbirth educator and birth doula. Vanessa is delighted to be a part of the Yale Prison Education Initiative and support the movement of college in prison.

James Jeter

Founder, Dwight Hall Civic Allyship Initiative

James Jeter is a New Haven native and alum of the Wesleyan Center for Prison Education at Cheshire Correctional Institution, where he spent nearly 20 years incarcerated. With Wesleyan, he completed 20 credited college courses, and was a member of the Lifers Program, where he worked with at-risk youth, helped raise money for local food banks, and worked with the Hartford Police Chief to address gun violence in Hartford. Through this work, while still incarcerated, he fostered relationships with the Mayor of Hartford’s Chief of Staff, members of the Department of Justice’s Project Longevity Task Force, and the CEO of the Hartford Community Loan Fund, his employer post-release.

At the HCLF, James worked as a policy analyst, working on state and federal policy around banking and housing. In the time since his release, he has served on the board of Wesleyan’s Center for Prison Education, has been honored with the 100 Men of Color Distinction, led participatory budgeting with Hartford City Council, and has returned to Cheshire Correctional Institution to speak to residents of its TRUE Unit. James is dedicated to the cause of prison education and has sought opportunities to apply his own experience to benefit those still incarcerated or returning home.

Faculty Advisory Committee

Roderick Ferguson

Chair, YPEI Faculty Advisory Committee

George Levesque

Faculty Advisory Committee Member

Elizabeth Hinton

Faculty Advisory Committee Member

Mira Debs

Faculty Advisory Committee Member

Caleb Smith

Faculty Advisory Committee Member

Paul Tipton

Faculty Advisory Committee Member


Anastasia Saar

Spring 2022 GPE Fellow

Anastasia Saar (she/her) is a second-year PhD student in chemistry from Boston, MA. She's passionate about expanding access to higher education and is excited to utilize her background in teaching and tutoring as part of the team. When she's not busy with research, she can be found in the pottery studio or searching for a good cup of coffee. She is delighted to be working with YPEI.

Eliza Spinna

Dwight Hall Urban Fellow

Bio forthcoming

Martina Amate Perez

Dwight Hall Urban Fellow

Bio Forthcoming

Avik Sarkar

Dwight Hall Urban Fellow

Avik Sarkar (any/all pronouns) is a junior from Boston, MA majoring in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and pursuing a certificate in French. He is interested in queer and trans aesthetic practices and cultural productions across South Asia and its diasporas. On campus, he serves as an Academic Strategies Mentor at the Poorvu Center and works as a student coordinator at the Asian American Cultural Center. As a Liman Fellow this summer, he is working at the Racial Justice Program of the ACLU of Massachusetts. He is so excited to be a part of the YPEI team and believes that prison education is crucial in the ongoing struggle for abolition.

Hillary Warolin

Academic Strategies Mentor

Hillary Warolin (she/her) is an Eli Whitney student in Silliman College majoring in English. Though her primary focus is English, she enjoys exploring a variety of areas of study. As a transfer student, she has found great value in resources like the Academic Strategies Program and is passionate about helping students find the tools they need to achieve their academic goals. She is thrilled to be part of the YPEI team as an Academic Strategies mentor.

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