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.

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



Ananya Kumar-Banerjee

RITM-YPEI Creative Writing Fellow; 2020 Dwight Hall Summer Fellow

Ananya Kumar-Banerjee (she/they) is a senior Ethnicity, Race & Migration major and Human Rights Scholar. She is interested in the study of borders, migration, climate change, and intimacy, especially in the South Asian Subcontinent. A New Yorker, she is passionate about local politics and has been engaged in numerous congressional and state elections; she was a leader for Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez's voter registration work on Rikers Island. Outside of her political and academic work, Ananya also enjoys writing and believes it is a form of kindness and tenderness. She previously has worked with the Asian American Writers' Workshop World Without Cages Program, which publishes the work of incarcerated writers. This summer, she will be focusing on building a creative writing workshop for the Yale Prison Education Initiative.

Cera Smith

Degree Coordinator Fellow

Cera Smith is a fifth-year PhD candidate in African American Studies and English at Yale. Their dissertation research analyzes representations of the Black internal body in 20th- and 21st-century U.S. Black literary, visual, and performance art. Cera does so by putting literary studies, Black Studies, the study of visual art, and the medical and health humanities into conversation. Besides research, Cera spends their time teaching classes on U.S. Afro-Latinx literatures and African Americanness, working as a Fellow for Yale’s Office of Graduate Student Development and Diversity, and supporting local community organizations working towards racial justice, such as CTCORE Organize Now!. Prior to graduate school, Cera earned degrees in English Literature and Creative Writing at California State University, Long Beach and worked for the California Conference for Equality and Justice.

Eliza Spinna

Dwight Hall Urban Fellow

Bio forthcoming

Gabrielle Colangelo

Fall 2020 Public Humanities Fellow; YPEI-Yale University Library (YUL) Student Coordinator

Bio forthcoming

Max Chaoulideer

Spring 2021 Graduate Professional Development Fellow

Max Chaoulideer is a seventh-year PhD candidate in the Department of German Language and Literature. His teaching and research bring humanistic methods and materials to bear on our contemporary ecological crises to understand them as issues of political inequality. He has taught academic writing and literature in YPEI's summer courses and is now helping to expand correspondence course programming and design the academic writing component of YPEI's degree program.

Nicole Carroll

2020 Yale Divinity School Summer Fellow

Nicole Carroll is a second year MA student at Yale Divinity School studying American Religious History. Her research explores the disciplinary work of Christianity and secularism in American culture. Before coming to Yale, Nicole worked as a writing tutor, researcher, and administrative assistant at the Bard Prison Initiative. She is deeply committed to expanding access to liberal arts education in prisons and is excited to continue this work with YPEI.

Trina Hyun

Spring 2021 Graduate Professional Experience Fellow

Trina is a fifth-year Ph.D. Candidate in English. Her dissertation explores the theoretical and historical connections between seventeenth-century English devotional literature and media studies. Trina has taught writing and literature courses in the English department, including a recent seminar on dramatic representations of justice, mercy, and equity. At YPEI, her work focuses on expanding development and fundraising initiatives and supporting co-curricular programming.

Avik Sarkar

Dwight Hall Urban Fellow

Avik Sarkar (any/all pronouns) is a sophomore from Boston, MA majoring in Women's, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. He is broadly interested in the politics of gender and sexuality in South Asia and its diasporas, with a particular focus on queer and trans aesthetic practices and cultural productions. He serves as co-editor of the Yale Herald's Culture section, and he files taxes for low-income residents of Greater New Haven as a site coordinator and advanced preparer with Volunteer Income Tax Assistance. 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.

Danielle Harris

Academic Strategies Coordinator

Danielle Harris (she/her) is a senior in Berkeley College. She studies History and is a Human Rights Scholar. Danielle was proudly born and raised in Cleveland, Ohio where she attended public schools before coming to Yale. The expectations of public schools differed drastically from Yale’s, but thanks to the academic strategies program, Danielle quickly became acquainted with navigating the “hidden curriculum” and discovering ways to excel at Yale. She loves being an academic strategist because she wants all students to realize that they are capable of thriving academically at Yale, they just have to learn the right tools. Danielle is willing to spend hours sharing her experience and teaching those tools.

Fi Schroth-Douma

Dwight Hall Urban Fellow

Fi (she/her) is a sophomore studying Ethnicity, Race, and Migration and Music. Having grown up in and around New Haven, she loves the city's small-scale connectedness and ongoing history of local organizing. She sees her time at Yale as a chance to examine the sources of its wealth, past and present, and she is involved with the Endowment Justice Coalition’s movement to divest from fossil fuels, incarceration and detention, imperialism, and war and with the Fair Share campaign to tax Yale. She also co-directs the pre-orientation program FOCUS on New Haven and is on the New Haven organizing team for Youth2Youth (Y2Y), a project run by students, staff at Youth Continuum, and youth with lived experience to open an overnight program. She loves choral singing and petting her cactus, and feels so glad to be working with the YPEI team!

Kevin Chen

Dwight Hall Urban Fellow

Kevin Chen (he/they) is a senior majoring in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration, with a focus on AfroAsian intimacies and alternative kinships. His work reimagines what carcerality and community look like through an abolition-based, queer framework. Previously, Kevin has studied Japanese American incarceration at the Angel Island Immigration Station Foundation as a Satoda Scholar, and has worked with incarcerated parents at the Bronx Defenders as a Liman Fellow. This year, he is working with the Yale Prison Education Initiative as a Dwight Hall Urban Fellow and is excited to join the team!

Minh Vu

American Studies Graduate Fellow

Minh Vu is a first-year Ph.D. student in American Studies studying AfroAsian intimacies across history and literature. As a Fellow for YPEI, he works on curriculum development and support, serving as a Teaching Assistant for various humanities courses and co-organizing programs such as the Introduction to Ethnicity, Race, & Migration seminar and remote creative writing workshop. As a Founding Member of YPEI’s Student Advisory Committee, he is committed to increasing student and faculty involvement across Yale College and the graduate schools.

Stella Xu

Dwight Hall Urban Fellow

Stella is a rising senior from the San Francisco Bay Area. At Yale, she is pursuing a Dual BA/MA in East Asian Studies, with a focus on migration, empire,
and colonialism in the Asia-Pacific region. Prior to joining YPEI, she worked on curriculum development and teaching with the Immigrant History Project, and served as a Peer Liaison for the Asian American Cultural Center. Outside of Yale, she has worked with the Minkwon Center for Community Action (Flushing, Queens) on community organizing and civic engagement initiatives. She is also passionate about food systems and food justice, and loves her cats. She is excited to be working with YPEI as a Dwight Hall Urban Fellow!