Zelda Roland


Founding Director

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

Tow Foundation Fellow

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. 

2019 Summer Fellows

Diana Saavedra '20 

Diana Saavedra is a rising senior at Yale College from Bronx, New York. She is majoring in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration with a concentration in crimmigration—the intersection of criminal law and immigration law. She is working with the Yale Prison Education Initiative as a Dwight Hall Summer Fellow and will continue her work next year as a Dwight Hall Urban Fellow.

Mery Concepcion '20

Mery Concepcion is a rising senior at Yale College from Queens, New York. She is an Ethnicity, Race, and Migration major with a focus on racial equity, social justice and reparations. She is deeply committed to YPEI’s mission to expand access to education for incarcerated students and is thrilled to be working with them this summer.

Dustin Nguyen '20

Dustin Nguyen is a Yale College senior majoring in Economics and interested in the economics of education. He works on a range of YPEI programming: course facilitation, research, grant-writing, and general day-to-day support for the organization. He is originally from San Diego, California where as a justice-involved youth, he came to realize the importance of fair access to education, the liberal arts, and YPEI's mission.

Joshua Murray '20

Josh is an undergraduate student at Yale, heading into his fourth and final year. A student of political science, he is working with the Prison Education Initiative as a Summer Intern, a position which he excitedly pursued due to its combination of expanding access to high-quality educative resources and challenging what he views as the excessively punitive nature of the prison system. Outside of the Initiative, he works with Yale Rotaract and with various community groups in New Haven, and makes original music in his spare time.