Dena Simmons is an expert at getting to the heart of the matter. As the Founder of LiberatED, a collective at the intersection of social and emotional learning, racial justice and healing, she works with schools to use the power of emotions and racial justice approaches to create a more effective and compassionate community. 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 also serves on several boards of directors including Trans Bodies, Trans Selves, and consults for the United World College, advising them on their Constructive Engagement of Conflict program. 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, 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 profile in the AOL/PBS project, MAKERS: Women Who Make America.
Dena embodies her talks, speaking deeply to her audiences about the very heart of education. I cannot recommend her highly enough.
I think you're most effective when you bring yourself and your humanity to the work that you do.
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