A CESJDS lifer, Rachel attended from Kindergarten through 12th grade. Her mom, Claire Simmons, was one of the founding teachers at the school and was Chair of the Jewish History Department. Rachel has fond memories of attending CESJDS with her brother, Josh, recalling "a very robust and secure community, where I learned how to take risks and how to be myself."
Rachel has wonderful memories of Color War, singing at the Kennedy Center with the Lower School choir, pizza hot lunches and amazing friendships, some of which still remain strong today. Middle school and high school can be challenging years for many teenagers and Rachel also had her share of obstacles to conquer, including finding her voice as a feminist and coming out as a lesbian. It was some of these hard experiences she encountered in middle school and high school that she drew upon when writing her first book.
Upon graduating from CESJDS, Rachel went onto Vassar College to study Political Science and Women's Studies. After graduation, she moved to New York and worked for Mayor Rudy Guiliani. Her job in the former New York City mayor's office as an urban fellow led to serving as deputy finance director for Senator Charles Schumer's 1998 campaign. Rachel won a Rhodes Scholarship to attend Oxford University, then left to begin writing her first book. At Oxford, Rachel realized how the endless drive to achieve undermined her development as an authentic learner, and made what she calls a "hard right turn" in her life path. She now speaks all over the country with high school and college students about the lessons of her experience..
Rachel's passion for writing was encouraged at CESJDS, especially as the news editor of the Lion's Tale newspaper. She credits English teachers, Sue Zuckerman, Ellen Bresnick, Annette Lakein and Gill Cook for teaching her how to write and think, fostering her love of non-fiction writing, and preparing her for a seamless transition to college. Rachel played three sports every year beginning in middle school, and credits her coaches – especially Phil Papier -- for helping her develop her character
Co-founder of Girls Leadership, a national non-profit, year-round program empowering young women to be more authentic, assertive and self-aware, Rachel is an experienced curriculum writer and educator. She is a leadership development specialist at the Wurtele Center for Work and Life at Smith College, and is the Tylis Family Girls Research Scholar in Residence at the Hewitt School in New York.
Rachel is a single mother by choice and lives in western Massachusetts with her four year old daughter, Estee, and rescue dog Charlie.