Dena Simmons is an expert at getting to the heart of the matter. As the Founder of LiberatED, an organization that centers radical love, healing, and racial and social justice in education and social and emotional learning. Dena works with educators and students to co-create the conditions for young people to live, learn, and thrive in the comfort of their own skin. After being the former Director of Implementation at the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence for several years, she decided to liberate herself from the institution’s racist practices and create her own path. Dena is one of the most prolific educators we know: she has been a leading voice on teacher education, and has written and spoken across the country about social justice pedagogy, diversity, education reform, and bullying in K-12 school settings. She has supported private and public schools and districts across the nation as well as corporate settings in emotional intelligence and culturally relevant practices. We think Dena should get an award in Most Awesome Fellowships: She is a recipient of a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, a J. William Fulbright Fellowship, a Paul & Daisy Soros Fellowship, a Baldwin for the Arts Fellowship, and a Phillips Exeter Academy Dissertation Fellowship.

Dena speaks nationally about issues like education reform and bullying, including two TEDx talks and main stage TED talk, titled “How students of color confront impostor syndrome.” When on stage, she speaks with a powerful emotion that sticks with you. The urgency and passion of her words, and the information she brings with it, will make you a believer. To get more of a feel for just how special Dena is, check out her many videos at her website.

Dena embodies her talks, speaking deeply to her audiences about the very heart of education. I cannot recommend her highly enough.
—Catharine Wright, Middlebury College

I think you're most effective when you bring yourself and your humanity to the work that you do.
—Dena Simmons

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