PA News & Announcements

10/6: PA KInD Speaker Series: Dena Simmons

Keynote Title:

From Surviving to Thriving: Creating Equitable Environments Through Emotional Intelligence and Culturally Relevant Practices

Keynote Description:

For community members to thrive, they must feel safe to be who they are; they must love themselves. As a result, our leadership, instruction, and assessment must foster psychological and emotional safety through emotional intelligence, culturally responsivity, and anti-racist practices. During this interactive session, participants will explore impostor syndrome, emotional intelligence, and culturally relevant pedagogy, and anti-racist practices. Through narrative, Dr.

Simmons will discuss how the intersection of emotionally intelligent and culturally relevant practices can create equitable and welcoming communities, where everyone can learn in the comfort of their skin.

Session Objectives:

•       Explore impostor syndrome

•       Discuss the skills of emotional intelligence as well as cultural relevant and anti-racist practices

•       Explore the intersections between culturally relevant practices and emotional intelligence

•       Describe ways to incorporate culturally relevant and emotionally intelligent practices into participants' lives and work

*This could be done in 1 hour, 3 hours, or 6 hours. Longer sessions include more content, activities, and reflection and learning opportunities.


Dena Simmons, Ed.D., is the Assistant Director of Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, where she supports schools to use the power of emotions to create a more compassionate and just society. Prior to her work at the Center, Dena 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 justice pedagogy, diversity, education reform, emotional intelligence, and bullying in K-12 school settings, including the White House, the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit, the United Nations, two TEDx talks, and a TED talk on Broadway. Dena has been profiled in Education Week, the Huffington Post, NPR, the AOL/PBS project, MAKERS: Women Who Make America, and a Beacon Press Book, Do It Anyway: The New Generation of Activists. Dena is a recipient of a Harry S. Truman Scholarship, a J. William Fulbright Fellowship, an Education Pioneers Fellowship, a Paul and Daisy Soros Fellowship, a Phillips Exeter Academy Dissertation Fellowship, a Hedgebrook Writing Residency, and an Arthur Vining Davis Aspen Fellowship among others. She earned her doctorate degree from Teachers College, Columbia University, where she is now faculty, teaching aspiring school leaders in the Summer Principals Academy. Dena's research interests include teacher preparedness to address bullying in the K-12 school setting, culturally responsive pedagogy, and the intersection of equity and social and emotional learning (SEL) interventions—all in an effort to ensure and foster justice and safe spaces for all. She is the author of the forthcoming book, White Rules for Black People (St. Martin's Press, 2021).

Social media:



Selected publications on her website: 

1)     Applying an equity lens to SEAD

2)     Is Social-Emotional Learning Really Going to Work for Students of Color?

3)     How to Change the Story about Students of Color

4)     Emancipatory Education

5)     Forging Partnerships with Our School Communities

6)     Why We Can't Afford Whitewashed Social-Emotional Learning

7)     How to Be An Antiracist Educator

8)     Who Has The Privilege to Be Empowered?