Director of Yale Prison Education Initiative, Lecturer in Education Studies
Zelda Roland is the Founding Director of the Yale Prison Education Initiative at Dwight Hall, which brings access to Yale classes and other campus programming to incarcerated students in Connecticut and teaches the seminar “College in Prison” as a lecturer in the Yale Education Studies program. A Yale alumna (BA `08, PhD `16), Zelda conceived of and created the program after working with incarcerated students enrolled in the Wesleyan Center for Prison Education at Cheshire Correctional Institution. Since 2016, she has worked to gain support for, organize, staff, and fund the program, which, with its inaugural courses in 2018, marked the first time any incarcerated student had ever earned Yale College credit for completed coursework. As of 2021, she also serves as the inaugural director of University of New Haven’s Prison Education Program and its partnership with YPEI, through which incarcerated students can earn degrees in prison and receive support when released from confinement. In her position, Zelda coordinates YPEI and the University of New Haven’s partnerships with the Connecticut Department of Corrections and its facilities; relationships with other national and statewide prison education programs, criminal justice, and reentry organizations; an innovative New Haven-based Fellowships program that provides college-in-prison alumni with professional development and mentorship opportunities; and a passionate and broad assembly of faculty, administrators, staff, and students across both campuses who believe in the promise and power of transformative higher education access for incarcerated students.