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Surge Fellowship Alumnus Joins Leadership Team

The Surge Institute is proud to announce that 2017 Surge Fellowship Alumnus William J. Collins has joined our leadership team as Vice President of Development and External Affairs.

In this role, William will serve the Surge mission by leading our fundraising and partnership-building strategies, overseeing a team focused on securing the future sustainability and growth of our movement. William will work closely with Founder and President Carmita Semaan, as well as the Surge national team to achieve these needs.

As an alumnus of the Surge Fellowship, William brings a special connection to the Surge mission, which he elaborates on in his statement about his new role:

“I am so excited to join the Surge team because this movement is permanently apart of my heart and soul. The Surge Fellowship experience was so deeply transformational for me as a black man in education, and I see my work now as a staff member being the ultimate way to pay it forward.  I am deeply honored to serve alongside Carmita and the rest of the Surge team as an energetic champion for this life changing and historic work.  I am incredibly energized by our plans to #LeadThe Surge across this country as more leaders of color deserve the chance to develop the skills they need to be seen and heard wherever decisions are made on behalf of the students they serve.  Surge is home for me – I’m so happy to be here.”

We are honored and proud to call William a member of the team.

Will’s Background

William previously served as Vice President of External Affairs for OneGoal-Chicago, a college access and persistence organization working towards closing the college divide for young people across the country.

In this role, William’s mission was to ensure OneGoal-Chicago maintained its financial stability by maintaining and growing a diversified and sustainable investor base, building efficiencies of scale to keep the revenue goal manageable and increase awareness and the sense of urgency to close the college degree divide within the Chicago as well as build OneGoal’s reputation as a leader in the college access and success movement and elevate the voices and stories of the OneGoal community.

Beginning his career in corporate America, William’s business acumen, strategic thinking and financial prowess allowed him to climb the ranks at several Fortune 500 companies, including Target and The Home Depot. Despite his corporate success, William constantly sought to fill a void in his life. It was in his decision to become an educator, following in the footsteps of his mother — an educator serving Chicago Public Schools for over three decades — when William knew he had found his calling.

William has always believed that life’s most important and urgent question is, “What are you doing for others?” To that end, William left a lucrative career in the corporate world in 2009 and pursued a career in teaching. For six years, William taught economics and finance at the award-winning Chicago High School for Agricultural Sciences, of which he is an alumnus. While there, he made lifelong connections with his students through education and mentoring. In 2013, William received the Chicago Public Schools’ Exemplary Teacher Award from the Office of College and Career Success, which recognized him for his demonstrated excellence in teaching and learning and for exceptional contributions to the profession.

William holds a Master of Education in curriculum studies and administration from DePaul University and a Bachelor of Science in economics from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, to which he received a full academic scholarship. In 2014, he was selected as an Education Pioneers Fellow, where he completed a strategic review of the resource allocation process for the Office of Diverse Learners Supports and Services at the Chicago Public Schools’ Central Office. That same year, he also wrote a full-length essay entitled,“Education, Democracy and Social Discourse: A Contemporary Response to George S. Counts and Boyd H. Bode” in the Schools: Studies in Education journal, published by the University of Chicago.

In 2016, William was named one of Chicago’s Top 35 Under 35 Making an Impact by Chicago Scholars. During this same year, William was welcomed to the third cohort of Fellows for the Surge Institute, an elite leadership accelerator that was designed to identify and groom emerging talent in education and provide them with leadership development as well as access to networks and visibility, empowering them to bring new ideas, perspectives and solutions that change the landscape of education.

William is an authentic and passionate leader who has dedicated his career to moving the needle of college completion for the marginalized and oppressed. As a native of the South Side of Chicago, he saw the value of education as a means to escape adversity. He fundamentally believes that every student deserves the chance to attain a college degree and the life that comes with it. He is also an active member of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and a committed mentor to many college students. William is a music enthusiast and an avid international traveler. He currently resides in Chicago, IL.