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Dena Simmons

Founder and Executive Director

Dr. Dena Simmons is the founder and executive director of LiberatED, a liberatory approach to education that centers radical love, healing, justice, and social and emotional learning (SEL). She is also a visiting professor at the Institute for Racial Justice at Loyola University of Chicago. Before LiberatED, she co-led the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, where she supported schools to use the power of emotions to create a more compassionate and just society. Prior to her work there, Dr. Simmons served as an educator, teacher educator, diversity facilitator, and curriculum developer. She has been a leading voice on teacher education and has written and spoken across the country about social and racial justice pedagogy, diversity, emotional intelligence, and bullying in K-12 school settings. Dr. Simmons’ research interests include teacher preparedness to address bullying in the K-12 school setting, culturally responsive pedagogy, and the intersection of equity, racial justice, and SEL—all to ensure and foster justice, belonging, and safe spaces for all.

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