APB is a Global Speaker, Celebrity & Entertainment Agency

Speaking to the World

Boston | Chicago | San Diego | Atlanta

Dena  Simmons

Dena Simmons

Founder of LiberatED


Dr. Dena Simmons is the founder of LiberatED, a liberatory approach to social and emotional learning, racial justice, and healing. She is also the inaugural scholar-in-residence at the Institute for Racial Justice at Loyola University of Chicago. She is the former Assistant Director of Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, where she supported schools to use the power of emotions to create a more compassionate and just society. Read More >

Prior to her work at the Center, 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, including the White House, the inaugural Obama Foundation Summit, the United Nations, two TEDx talks, and a TED talk on Broadway.

Dr. Simmons 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. Dr. Simmons 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 recently served as faculty in the Summer Principals Academy.

Dr. Simmons’ 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). Read Less ^

Speaker Videos

Building a Culture of Equity Through Social Emotional Learning

TEDx: What to Do if Your Student Comes at You With Scissors?

6 Ways to Be an Antiracist Educators | Edutopia

TEDx: It’s 10 P.M. Do You Know Where Your Children Are?

Abolitionist Teaching and the Future of Our Schools

Speech Topics

Self-Care, Healing & Equity-Responsive Practices When The World Feels Heavy

In this session, we will explore self-care strategies as a way to cope with isolation, uncertainty, and the collective traumas of COVID-19 and our country’s reckoning with race. We will also reflect on what is causing our burnout as a way to tackle it with relevant emotion regulation and self-care strategies. As we plan for the start of a new year, we will discuss how best to meet the needs and demands of former and current students who expressed harm done at school/district, plans for creating systemic change, and anti-racist practices to ensure equity and to facilitate healing in the midst of multiple pandemics. Read More >

Session Objectives: Read Less ^

  • Reflect on causes burnout & engage in a burnout inventory
  • Discuss self-care and coping strategies as well as conduct a self-care inventory
  • Explore strategies to ensure equity-responsive, trauma-informed, and healing-centered practices for returning to school in the midst of pandemics
  • Discuss how best to meet the needs and demands of former and current students who expressed harm done at school/district
  • Make a commitment to care for self and for others

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

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. Read More >

Session Objectives: Read Less ^

  • 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