Who We Are
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.
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."
Program Assistant, YPEI
Emme Magliato is the Program Assistant for the Yale Prison Education Initiative supported by a fellowship through Dwight Hall at Yale. They graduated from Yale in 2023 where she studied both the History of Science and Evolutionary Biology. Emme first started with YPEI as an Academic Strategies Mentor through the Yale Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning. Emme has also worked in harm reduction and community organizing for people who use drugs and unhoused people in New Haven. She is overjoyed to be a part of the YPEI team and continue to support incarcerated students pursuing and building college in prison in Connecticut.
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.
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
Academic Strategies Mentor
Alexandra Kleinman, an undergraduate in Yale’s Eli Whitney Students Program for non-traditional students, partnered with YPEI students at the MacDougall-Walker CI in the summer of 2023 to establish a Math Club. This peer-led program is designed to prepare students for the academic challenges of college mathematics, while also exploring the practical applications of math in various personal interests. Alexandra received her associate degree from Norwalk Community College, where she was a peer tutor for Algebra I & II. At YPEI, she remains dedicated to the values of peer teaching and learning, and working with adults across the broader higher education community.
Academic Strategies Mentor
Hillary Warolin (she/her) is an Eli Whitney student in Trumbull 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.
Patrick Hayes (he/him) is a senior History major at Yale from Arkadelphia, Arkansas. He's worked as an investigator in trial-level public defense in Central & South Texas and is excited to be a part of the YPEI team!
Yale Divinity School Intern at YPEI
Ally Stapleton became involved with YPEI during the summer of 2022 as a President's Public Service Fellow. As she completes her second year at Yale Divinity School, she is excited to be returning as a tutor and YDS intern for YPEI. Ally studies Religion and Literature, and before coming to Yale, she worked in human services with individuals and families experiencing homelessness. Ally's work centers around questions of belonging, legibility, and space, and she is inspired each time she enters the classroom by the unique belonging-space of the college in prison.
Academic Strategies Mentor
Lisbette Acosta is a senior at Yale College studying Psychology and Education Studies. She is delighted to serve as a YPEI Academic Strategies Peer Mentor this year. Outside of YPEI, she conducts research on health equity outcomes in the Eastern Caribbean, volunteers at HAVEN Free Clinic, and co-organizes with The People’s PPE. Lisbette has supported people of all ages, backgrounds, and abilities to access educational resources through her tutoring, advocacy, and leadership. She is honored to join the YPEI team and support students in their journeys within education.
2023-2025 Urban Fellow
Zoe Hsu is a Yale senior studying Political Science with a certificate in Computer Programming. She is involved in the Urban Fellows program as a fellow and student co-coordinator. As a FGLI student, Zoe is passionate about socioeconomic justice, particularly within the criminal legal system.