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

Fall 2020 Graduate Professional Experience 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

Public Humanities Fellow

Bio forthcoming

Minh Vu

2020 YANA-Dwight Hall Summer Fellow; Fall 2020 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.

Trustin Henderson

Fall 2020 WGSS Fellow; Summer 2020 YPEI Fellow

Bio forthcoming

Avik Sarkar

Dwight Hall Urban Fellow

Bio forthcoming

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

Bio forthcoming

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!

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.

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