Jessica Fei is a Presidential Scholar and a Spencer Foundation Early Career Scholar in New Civics at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE). Her areas of interest and expertise include qualitative research, youth development, out-of-school (OST) time learning, critical pedagogies, and place-based education. Drawing upon the disciplines of sociology, psychology, and geography, Jessica based her dissertation on an in-depth qualitative study of pedagogies of place and placemaking in the youth programs of an urban community art studio. Jessica has also completed qualitative studies on how newcomer youth navigate processes of identity and becoming in afterschool programs, and on how elite high school students negotiate boundaries through their neighborhood narratives. With the support of fellowships from the Germanacos Foundation, Jessica collaborated with Project Zero to conduct research on online learning communities, and to design and implement curricula exploring the theme of place using tools of photography and counter-mapping. Jessica was a Tri-Chair of the 2014 HGSE Alumni of Color Conference (AOCC), "From Dreams to Movements: Education, Inequality, and Justice," and she received the Kolajo Paul Afolabi Award for Commitment to Educational Justice in 2017.
Born and raised in Queens, NY, Jessica has over a decade of professional experience working with diverse youth in educational settings that include urban public schools, universities, arts agencies, and small nonprofits. In various roles as a teacher and administrator, Jessica has designed English literature and Humanities curricula for high school students, led a multi-year college readiness program, and developed arts-based leadership programs for New York City public schools. In recent years, she has carried out multiple artivism projects with young artists in the Boston area, supported undergraduate and graduate students at Harvard in programs related to race and identity, and published toolkits and articles for school- and community-based educators. She has won numerous awards for her teaching and advising, including the Star Family Prize for Excellence in Sophomore Advising from Harvard College in 2018. As an independent consultant, Jessica supports teachers, teaching artists, counselors, and administrators in content areas that include culturally-responsive education, participatory action research (PAR), critical pedagogies of place, and building positive relationships with youth. Currently she serves on the Board of Directors of the MassLEAP Collective, a youth poetry and social justice organization based in the Boston area.
Jessica received her B.A. in Literature and Ethnicity, Race, and Migration from Yale University, where she also earned her certification to teach Secondary English. She graduated from Harvard University with an Ed.M. in Human Development and Psychology, and an Ed.D. in Culture, Communities, and Education.