Short Documentary Film “Shades of Leadership” Premieres Across the Nation

Over the past few months, Surge has had the honor of touring its first-ever short documentary film, Shades of Leadership, in the cities of Oakland, Chicago and most recently New York City (see the trailer HERE). Through the screenings, audience members heard from a variety of seasoned education experts on the importance of leaders of color within the education space and explored the narratives of young people who have been impacted by said leaders. 

The film made its first stop in the Bay Area on September 24th, premiering at the New Parkway Theater in Oakland, CA. Following the screening, audience members engaged in a dialogue with four education leaders local to the Bay Area: 

  • Christopher P. Chatmon, Deputy Chief of Equity, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD)
  • Nhi Truong, 9th Grade Advisor, MetWest High School
  • Dr. Cesar A Cruz, Co-founder, Homies Empowerment 
  • Ty-Licia Hooker, 2019 Surge Oakland Alumna; Executive Director & Co-Founder, Student Success and Leadership Academy

A key point from the film that was further discussed in terms of its weight and importance was the following: “Until we can build the cadre of leaders of color, we’re going to continue to have these struggles about what decisions are the right decisions, what decisions are the best decisions.” (Ladson-Billings, Shades of Leadership

Weeks later, Shades of Leadership premiered at Taste 222 in Chicago, IL on October 1st. The afternoon continued building on the layer of conversation from the Oakland screening by delving into the notion of what it means to raise your voice in the spaces that ultimately decide the fate of our youth and communities of color, particularly in education. Audience members joined in a discussion with:

  • Dr. Cristina Pacione-Zayas, Associate Vice President of Policy for the Erikson Institute
  • Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, Pedagogical Theorist, University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Education
  • Dr. David Stovall, Professor of African-American and Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois – Chicago
  • Rudy Lozano Jr., Vice President of the Fellowship Initiative, JPMorgan & Chase, 2018 Surge Fellowship Alumnus
  • Roberto Rodriguez, Student, University of Illinois – Chicago

The afternoon offered the opportunity to touch on topics such as the education gap in the United States as well as how education leaders should engage with communities that have been on the lower receiving end of educational opportunity. During the panel discussion, Dr. Ladson-Billings stated, “Let’s move away from the notion of sympathy. That’s basically, ‘I feel for you, but I’m glad it’s not me.’ What we need to focus more on is empathy in our communities.”

The most recent destination of the documentary’s tour was the Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn on November 13th. Education Leader, Political Consultant and father of one of the voices in Shades of Leadership, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Luis A. Miranda, Jr. also joined the group for a fireside chat dialogue with American educator and activist, Kaya Henderson. The overarching theme of the evening was the call-to-action to support the folks and spaces that are presently engaged in the work of investing in leaders of color within the youth-serving & education space (i.e. the Surge Institute). As folks yearning for a brighter future for our young people, this coalition-building can only go so far without the investment of the catalysts in the room and beyond.

Each of the screenings this year served as a space of authenticity and collectivism within the education space. They themselves were acts of defiance against the status quo of a present white-dominant ecosystem. Shades of Leadership will be released in early 2020 in an effort to continue sharing the stories of the impact of leaders of color, and the Surge Institute looks forward to continue doing its part in the elevation of transformative leaders of color who, along with their communities, are reclaiming their narratives and redefining the future of education.

Continue learning about the Surge Institute at www.surgeinstitute.org and follow the Surge movement on social media @SurgeFellowship and @SurgeOakland.

Surge Chicago and Surge Oakland Introduce Local Boards!

We are thrilled and honored to introduce the Chicago and Oakland local boards! These seasoned, dynamic and brilliant leaders will help broaden and deepen the Surge movement in each of these cities as champions of the mission, strategic advisors, and partners in fulfilling growth goals alongside the Surge leadership team and Board of Directors. The boards are as follows.

The histories and spirits of our fellowship cities, Chicago and Oakland, are at the foundation of Surge and the organization’s why in this work. As a milestone for the Surge Institute, we are thankful for these leaders who will be offering their time, talent and treasure in support of the Surge movement. This announcement is an important next step in continuing to unlock the power that lies within the education leaders in these communities.

If you would like to learn more about the Surge Institute and support our movement, visit us at www.surgeinstitute.org and follow us on social media @SurgeFellowship and @SurgeOakland!

Harvard Education Press Publishes the Surge Institute Case Study

The Harvard Education Press, a mission-driven publisher that covers critical issues in education such as classroom practice, equity, leadership and school reform, has recently approved and published a case study that chronicles the founding, early scale building, and impact of the Surge Institute.

The Surge Institute is a national nonprofit that develops and elevates leaders of color who create transformative change for children, families, and communities of color. Founded by Carmita Semaan in 2014, the organization was built around the social demand to empower emerging diverse leaders to change the landscape of education by providing them with a unique, authentic leadership development experience.  

The HEP case study, written by Dr. Joiselle Cunningham, Dr. Irvin Scott and Dr. Matt Presser, delves into the current lack of African-American and Latinx representation in the American education sector in contrast with the growing number of African-American and Latinx students enrolled within public schools in the United States. Chronicling Semaan’s early workings of the Surge Institute, the case study also explains how the Surge Institute has grown into a national education movement despite early obstacles such as funding.

With less than five percent of business case studies featuring organizations founded or led by leaders of color, this case study represents not only a milestone for Surge but for leaders of color beyond the education field. The case study is currently being taught in education leadership courses at Harvard University and New York University, and through the Harvard Education Publishing Group platform, the Surge story will also have the potential to continue reaching emerging leaders in universities, businesses, and institutions across the globe. 

Overall, the piece serves as a reminder on the importance that diverse voices have in the education field and beyond. 

In a recent online magazine release, Semaan stated, “If our aspiration is to benefit from the collective genius of everything that people bring, we have to create environments where people don’t have to cover parts of who they are to feel like they are credible and respected.” 

This case study is critical in validating the various struggles faced by entrepreneurs of color in whichever stage of their journey that they are in, and the Surge Institute looks to continue elevating leaders of color and connecting with communities to catalyze equitable change in education for youth. 

Read the official case study HERE.

Welcome the 2020 Surge Chicago Cohort!

We are proud to announce that 25 leaders who currently serve within the Chicago education landscape have been selected for the 2020 Surge Chicago Fellowship!

The Surge Institute first began serving Chicago communities in 2015, and the total number of our Surge Chicago Alumni reached nearly 100 education leaders of color this past August. Each of our new family members will be welcomed into a space that aims to ignite their inner strengths and leverage their stories and experiences in order to shift the landscape of education for Black and Brown communities. Throughout this transformational experience, Surge will aim to elevate and invest in the genius already present within these emerging leaders of color. Overall, Surge seeks to be a mirror for each of these change-makers.

The following is a list of the 2020 Chicago Surge Fellows:

Founder and President of the Surge Institute, Carmita Semaan, shares some words to open the space for the 2020 fellowship candidates.

Over the course of the Fellowship program, Surge Fellows will receive executive skill training, a space for connection and community building, and the tools needed to facilitate transformative change within institutions and organizations serving youth and communities of color. The cohort will also develop their own leadership and advocacy skills, with a culminating step of the program being the completion of individual capstone projects, which will focus on advancing the work of a new or existing Chicago education initiative.

2020 Surge Chicago Fellow, Ulric Shannon, engages with Surge alumni members.

After completion of the program, graduating Fellows become part of an elite and growing national network of Surge Alumni who are currently leading equitable change in numerous cities across the United States. The inaugural Surge Fellowship cohort joined the Surge family in 2015, with the initial goal of expanding diversity in the education leadership pipeline at the forefront. Now, this vision has taken a life of its own, beyond the organization’s imagination! “As an educator with a history of organizing, I have always felt a sense of struggle and a desire for transformation at my core,” said Emilia Chico, 2020 Surge Fellow and Principal Consultant for the Chico Consulting Group. “However, after spending far too long in academia, my courageous, radical voice has been stifled, and I am looking for a community to assist me in forging a new path of self-discovery and collective action. More than ever, I know that I am capable of creating the spaces necessary for young people to thrive. I am ready to reclaim my voice and build with powerful individuals who are also ready to imagine the possibilities of educational reform!”

If you would like to learn more about the Surge Institute and join this movement, visit us at www.surgeinstitute.org and follow us on social media @SurgeFellowship! Once again, congratulations to our 25 new family members!

Welcome the newest Surge Chicago Alumni!

We are proud to announce the graduation of our fifth Surge Chicago cohort and welcome them into our National Surge Alumni community!

On August 24th, 2019, The Surge community gathered to celebrate the collective brilliance of the 2019 Surge Chicago Fellows, the Emergents, at their graduation ceremony.  The event was held at the Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort in Oak Brook, IL. This final chapter of the cohort’s fellowship journey served as a signal for another transformational beginning: the intentional, purposeful and daily work to continue leading authentically and in their full power as Surge Alumni!

Tamara Prather, Executive Director for the Chicago branch of the Surge Fellowship, kicked off the afternoon with words and acknowledgments that opened the space as one of community, love, and collectivism. She then welcomed the graduation keynote speaker, Chief Executive Officer for OneGoal and 2015 Surge Fellowship Alumna, Melissa Connelly. Melissa shared her story of being one of the inaugural members of the Surge Fellowship program and the continuous impact it has had on her leadership and her personal journey today.

Afterward, Erica Bauer, 2018 Surge Fellowship Alumna and Director of Student Engagement at Walter Payton College Prep took the stage to share what the first year after completing the fellowship entailed for her and the rest of her cohort family. “Though one graduates from the fellowship, the growth and work of authentic, heartfelt leadership is ongoing.” Erica Bauer then introduced the afternoon’s next speaker, Terrence Pruitt.

Terrence was selected by his fellow cohort members as the 2019 fellow speaker. He used the space to craft a beautiful story, comparing the collective work of his fellow Emergents as part of a larger ecological circle, needing everyone’s brilliance to thrive and to “just be.”

Cecily Relucio Hensler, Program Director for the Surge Chicago Fellowship, then transitioned the space to the Circle of Affirmation. Through this ceremony, the Emergents introduced one another through the exchanging of familial and supportive words, marking the conclusion of their fellowship. It has truly been amazing to see the transformations that have taken place within the 2019 Surge Chicago cohort, and we are excited to see the Emergents’ impact and reach continue throughout the city of Chicago and beyond!

See the full list of the Surge Chicago 2019 Graduates below and click HERE to view photos from the ceremony!:

Welcome the 2020 Surge Oakland Cohort!

We are proud to announce that 16 leaders from across the Oakland & Bay Area education landscape have been selected for the 2020 Surge Oakland Fellowship program! This year-long cohort-based program focuses on uniting, accelerating, and empowering leaders of color in education and youth-serving organizations.

The Surge Institute officially began serving Oakland & Bay Area communities in January 2018, with the number of our Bay Area Alumni reaching a total of 22 African American, Latinx, and Asian/Pacific Islander education leaders this past July.

Prospective candidates hear from 2019 Surge Oakland Alumna, Dulce Torres-Petty and Surge Oakland Executive Director, Michelle Seijas, Ed.D.

The following is a list of the 2020 Oakland Surge Fellows:

Over the course of the Fellowship program, Surge Fellows will receive executive skill training, a space for connection and community building, and the tools needed to facilitate transformative change within institutions and organizations serving youth and communities of color.

The cohort will also develop their own leadership and advocacy skills, with the culminating final step of the program being the completion of individual capstone projects, which will focus on advancing the work of a new or existing Oakland education initiative. Afterward, graduating Fellows become part of an elite and growing national network of over 100 Surge Fellowship Alumni who are currently leading change in numerous cities across the United States.

2020 Surge Oakland prospective candidates engage in a education and equity dialogue that mirrors aspects of the Surge Fellowship.

The Surge Fellowship began in Chicago in 2015, with the goal of expanding diversity in the education leadership pipeline. Over the past 4 years, the Surge Movement has expanded its reach beyond our imagination! 2.25 million students across the United States have been impacted by the work of Surge Alumni through education and youth-based organizations, and 97% of Surge Alumni say that their experience with the Surge Institute lead to an expansion of their own personal vision!

“The Surge Fellowship is a place for me to stand bold in my convictions, unpack my own identity within the context of the dominant narrative, and build up my own skills and literacy on how to disrupt, reimagine and rebuild oppressive educational systems. For me, I chose Surge because it’s a space to reignite a sense of hope and healing within this work. It is a committed system of care and support that will have a lasting impact as I continue to serve our students and lead the teachers of Oakland,” stated Roxanne Rose, 2020 Surge Fellow and Assistant Principal at Achieve Academy, Education for Change Public Schools.

Graduation Celebration for the Second Surge Oakland cohort!

Our family has reached triple digits with the recent graduation of The Radical Collective, Surge Oakland’s second ever Fellowship cohort!

On July 13th, 2019, The Surge Institute celebrated the work and collective journeys of the 2019 Oakland Fellows with a graduation ceremony at the beautiful Cavallo Point Lodge in Sausalito, CA. Family, friends, and loved ones were present for the occasion, bringing this chapter for the 2019 Oakland Fellows to a close, while also opening the door to their new roles as Surge Alumni.

The afternoon kicked off with Surge Board of Directors member, Darryl Cobb, who introduced the Surge space through a community lens. Afterwards, attendees heard from Nicole Magtoto, Educational Policy Analyst for the San Francisco Unified School District and Surge Oakland 2018 Fellow, who spoke on her Surge experience as well as the importance of continuing the collective work with the Surge Alumni community. She noted that this movement is bigger than any individual. It’s a collective, a tribe, a family of fierce leaders.

Ty-Licia Hooker, Executive Director for Boost! West Oakland and Stockton Success and Leadership Academy, then took the stage to give a few words on behalf of the Radical Collective. Ty-Licia was selected by her fellow cohort members as the 2019 Fellow speaker, sharing her story on overcoming imposter syndrome and recognizing our own genius as leaders in a space where we can’t afford to short change ourselves. Fred Blackwell, CEO of The San Francisco Foundation, served as the keynote speaker for the ceremony, speaking on how valuable the Fellows’ work is, specifically to communities of color in the Bay Area who need leaders representative of them.

The power of this ceremony never ceases to amaze us, reminding our entire community of the importance of celebration and showing up for ourselves and our people!

See the full list of the Surge Oakland 2019 Graduates below and click HERE to view photos from the ceremony:

  • Adanta Ahanonu, Site Director, Year Up
  • Janelle Bailey, Interim Site Director/Academic Affairs Director, College Track
  • Paul Fields, Site Director, College Track
  • Roilyn Graves, Program Specialist, Envision Education
  • Ty-licia Hooker, Executive Director, Boost! West Oakland and Stockton Success and Leadership Academy
  • Taica Hsu, Co-Director of Mentoring, Trellis Education
  • Sanam Jorjani, Co-Director, Oakland Literacy Coalition
  • Jayo Miko Macasaquit, HR & Operations Manager, Oakland Public Education Fund
  • Kyra Mungia, Education Project Director, Office of Mayor Schaaf, Oakland Promise 
  • Zakir Parpia, Director of Fiscal Partnerships, California School-Age Consortium
  • Dulce Torres-Petty, Brilliant Baby Program Coordinator, Office of Mayor Schaaf, Oakland Promise

The Surge Institute Welcomes 3 New Staff Members to the National Leadership Team!

The Surge Institute would like to extend a warm welcome to three new staff members who will be joining the Surge’s national leadership team! The Development and Program departments are key to building Surge’s national education movement, and the organization is proud to bring onboard three additional brilliant minds to aid in the organization’s education efforts.

George Deveney has accepted the role of Vice President of New Site Development. Previous to his new role with Surge, Deveney spent the last seventeen years at City Year, an education non-profit organization dedicated to helping students and schools succeed. He worked in recruitment before leading the launch of their second international affiliate in London and went on to work in partnership with local stakeholders and champions to launch new City Year programs in nine cities across the United States. In his new role, Deveney will lead the charge of ensuring that Surge’s vision and impact continues to extend across the national education landscape by leading the charge towards setting the groundwork for new locations where there is a need for Surge’s programming. “This is an exciting time to be joining Surge Institute as we continue to empower leaders and elevate voices in the cities we currently serve while being responsive to cities across the country who are seeking to bring our powerful and unique model to their communities,” said Deveney. “The impact that Surge Institute has already had provides a strong foundation to build on, and I look forward to being part of the future.”

Next, Surge welcomes Noemí Cortés as the new Program Director for the Surge Academy. Cortés joined the  Surge team in July of 2018 as a consultant Program Manager for Surge Academy in Kansas City and comes with a breadth of experience as a classroom educator, pre-service teacher professor, and school administrator. Cortés brings a critical consciousness to leadership development and understands the critical tenets of adult learning needed to lead the Surge Academy to the next level. “I’m excited to bring the powerful, healing work of the Surge movement to more folks of Color across the country. I am even more excited to be heading back to Kansas City to continue the work we started just one year ago,” said Cortés.

Lastly, Sam Wong will be joining the Surge team as the new part-time Development Coordinator. Wong joins as a staff member who will support Surge’s donor gift operations, playing a pivotal role in ensuring that the organization reaches its national short and long-term fundraising goals. For the past 4 years, Wong has worked as the Database Manager for San Diego LGBT Community Center, five years as a Human Resources consultant for BMO Harris Bank, and over the last 14 years served as a volunteer for both BMO Financial Employee Resource Groups Chicago, Illinois, and the AIDS Walk in San Diego.

The Surge Institute is blessed to have these leaders joining the team and looks forward to working and collaborating all in the effort of expanding and fulfilling Surge’s mission!

The Surge Community Grows with #LeadTheSurge in Oakland and Chicago!

 

Surge hosted an annual #LeadTheSurge reception in Oakland and Chicago. At the event, education leaders, organizational partners, and emerging change-makers come together to celebrate the work of the Surge movement. It is also a time when we acknowledge the next cohort of folks who will embark on this transformational journey with other Fellows who will ultimately become like family.

#LeadTheSurge in Oakland

On June 6th, 2019, the Surge community gathered for #LeadTheSurge in Oakland, CA at the beautiful Port Workspaces venue in support of expanding the reach of leaders of color in the education space. Surge Oakland Executive Director, Michelle Seijas, kicked off the evening by welcoming guests and sharing her Surge story around the theme, your identity is not your obstacle, it is your superpower. Afterward, guests learned about the journeys of 2018 Alumna, Joanna Vazquez-Zelaya, and 2019 Fellow, Paul Fields, within their work of supporting youth in Oakland and the Bay Area. Our friends from the National Equity Project, Victor Cary and Lisa Lasky, also joined us and led a moving group dialogue on the importance and necessity of leaders of color in education. Program Director for Surge Oakland, Yvonne Rodrguez along with Michelle Siejas then opened the space up for community building as well as time for prospective Fellows to learn more about the Fellowship experience firsthand.

#LeadTheSurge in Chicago

Fast forward to June 13th, our Surge community gathered for #LeadTheSurge at The Lakewood in Chicago, IL, continuing the momentum of this empowering national movement! Surge Chicago Program Director, Cecily Relucio Hensler, started the evening by introducing the audience to what the Surge Institute is all about: changing the face of education leadership for our children and communities. Guests were then treated to the honest, heartfelt journey of 2019 Fellow, Everett Daily, and why he believes Surge to be a space for healing. Later, we learned about 2018 Alumna, Maraliz Salgado, and her journey after completing the Surge Fellowship and the change she was able to experience first hand and with her work community. Executive Director for Surge Chicago, Tamara Prather, concluded the evening by asking prospective fellow interested in applying for the Surge Fellowship – to do so – as it will be a decision that will bring out hidden, dormant energy that will help in the fight for educational equity.

We encourage anyone interested in being a part of the Surge Fellowship or learning more about the National movement to visit our website, follow us on social media, and reach out with any questions! If there is a part of you that has been looking for a space of support, transformation, and healing for leaders of color, this is that space. Now is your time to join this movement! #LeadTheSurge

 

 

Inaugural Surge Academy Fellows Graduate in Kansas City!

The Surge Institute reaches another milestone in the history of our movement in education as we welcome the first ever graduates from the Surge Academy in Kansas City!

On June 1st, 2019, we celebrated the 2019 Surge Academy Fellows, as they were welcomed into the Surge Alumni community at the Guadalupe Centers in Kansas City, MO. Sly James, Mayor for the city of Kansas City, provided the keynote remarks, while 2019 Surge Academy Fellow and Postsecondary Retention Specialist for Kauffman Scholars, Yolanda Waldon, followed with some words regarding UNITY.

Providing some concluding thoughts for those in attendance was Surge Academy Program Director, Noemí Cortés, who thanked the now Surge Alumni as well as pushed the graduates to continue giving back to this movement to bring change to education for our children.

The ceremony represented a major shift in the Surge narrative as we continue to address the scarcity of leadership development programs for education leaders of color in all types of cities across the United States.

 

Click HERE to view photos from graduation!

 

See the full list of 2019 Surge Academy Graduates below:

Katie Boody, Chief Executive Officer, LEANLAB Education

Jennifer Collier, Chief Human Resources Officer, Kansas City Public Schools

Trinity Davis, Asst. Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Kansas City Public Schools

Charles King, Executive Director, Kansas City Teacher Residency

Edgar Palacios, Founder, Latinx Education Collaborative

Selena Rios, Learning and Evaluation Director, City Year Kansas City

Miles Sandler, Director of Engagement – Education, Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation

Brittany Stewart, Business Manager, Crossroads Charter Schools

Yolanda Waldon, Postsecondary Retention Specialist, Kauffman Scholars

India Wells-Carter, Program Manager, The New Teacher Project

Erik Wilkinson, Director of Operations, Kauffman Scholars