Who We Are

Leadership

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.

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.

Faculty Advisory Committee

Roderick Ferguson

Chair, YPEI Faculty Advisory Committee

Mira Debs

Faculty Advisory Committee Member

Paul Tipton

Faculty Advisory Committee Member

Caleb Smith

Faculty Advisory Committee Member

George Levesque

Faculty Advisory Committee Member

Elizabeth Hinton

Faculty Advisory Committee Member

Team

Ale Campillo

Academic Strategies Mentor

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.

Eliza Spinna

Dwight Hall Urban Fellow

Eliza Spinna is a junior from New York City. At Yale, she is pursuing a B.A. in philosophy, with a focus on ethics, justice, and religion. Previously, Eliza interned as a Liman Fellow at the Office of the Federal Public Defender for the District of Connecticut. On campus, Eliza is a tour guide at the Yale University Art Gallery, and is deeply involved in Dwight Hall, serving as a student member of the Board of Directors and volunteering at the New Haven Urban Debate League. She also enjoys propagating plants and cooking. Eliza is excited by the idea of a more accessible and just system of higher education, and she is thrilled to join YPEI as an Urban Fellow.

Gabrielle Colangelo

YPEI-Yale University Library Student Coordinator

Gabrielle Colangelo is a senior from Easton, CT majoring in English. Her work focuses on queer literary archives and lesbian autobiography. As the YPEI-YUL student coordinator, she works with university librarians to connect YPEI students with on-campus library resources. She coordinates YPEI’s Research Request Network and is a co-Editor of the Creative Writing Workshop. This summer, Gabby worked with YPEI as a President’s Public Service Fellow. She is thrilled to be a part of the team.

Martina Amate Perez

Dwight Hall Urban Fellow

Martina (she/hers) is a FGLI junior majoring in Ethnicity, Race, and Migration. She was born and raised in New York City and now lives in Englewood, New Jersey. On campus, she’s co-Editor in Chief of the undergraduate magazine The Globalist, tutors for RISE (a program that serves immigrant and refugee youth) and has organized for SUN (Students Unite Now) in the fight to improve mental healthcare and eliminate the SIC at Yale. She’s passionate about the accessibility of education and fostering creative outlets for marginalized groups. She is very grateful to be a part of the YPEI team and their work supporting higher education in prisons in the larger goal of abolition.

Anne Lessy

Graduate Professional Experience Fellow

Bio Forthcoming

Eileen Huang

Public Humanities Fellow

Eileen Huang (she/they) is a junior from New Jersey majoring in English. She is passionate about digital advocacy and organizing on Asian American issues. On campus, she serves as the editor of the Yale Literary Magazine and as a Peer Liaison for the Asian American Cultural Center. She is beyond excited and grateful to join the YPEI team.

Fi Schroth-Douma

Dwight Hall Urban Fellow

Bio forthcoming

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.