(Chicago, IL) – The national movement to elevate transformative leaders in education just entered a new chapter as education innovator Rodney Thomas begins a new journey leading program strategy as Vice President of National Programs at the Surge Institute. The role is critical in continuing to ensure sustainability for the Surge Institute’s current Surge Fellowship and Surge Academy sites as well as laying the programmatic groundwork for future expansion. The organization is thrilled to be adding to the phenomenal energy and heart of the Surge team to continue to drive impact and elevate leaders of color who are dedicated to serving the nation’s youth.
Rodney joins the Surge Institute with vast experience in the education, private and nonprofit sectors, most recently serving as a Senior Associate at the National Equity Project where he was responsible for designing and providing unique leadership and organizational development solutions that focused on technical, relational, social, and cultural aspects of complex change efforts focused on educational equity.
He began his career as an 8th grade teacher in Chicago Public Schools where he was honored as Teacher of the Year. After spending several years in the classroom, Rodney transitioned into the private sector and worked for companies such as Accenture, Motorola, and Unilever, with a focus on organizational development and design, executive coaching, change management and leadership development. Rodney later returned to Chicago Public Schools and was responsible for several large-scale projects from the implementation of Freshman On Track to the co-creation of The Chicago Leadership Collaborative, a principal training and support program.
“I’m most excited about having the opportunity to work with the amazing leaders who make up the Surge Institute,” said Thomas. In his new role, Rodney will set and execute the vision and direction for the content of the Surge Fellowship and Academy programs across all regions; he will design Surge core curriculum and work with regional program staff to ensure high-fidelity implementation. The role will also have a strong focus on introducing new, innovative program opportunities beyond the Surge Fellowship and Surge Academy, driving the Surge Institute into the future of what’s next within the fields of executive leadership and diversity, equity, and inclusion.
Thomas continued, “In my career, I have never had the experience of working in an organization that’s comprised of all leaders of color, that’s pretty powerful! As VP of National Programs, I’m also excited to play a part in co-designing the fellowship experience for Surge Fellows and see the impact of building leadership capacity for leaders of color across the US. Over the last few years, Surge has created a movement across the educational landscape and I’m super excited to be a member of this very special community.”
“Rodney has been a featured speaker for our Fellowship programming for a number of years and his unique blend of enthusiasm, deep expertise, humility, and unwavering commitment to the elevation and excellence of people of color make him an ideal formal addition to our team.” said Surge Institute Founder & President Carmita Semaan. “Rodney dreams big when he thinks about the future of Surge. And he pairs that passion for innovation and ingenuity with a keen appreciation for the systems, processes, and structures required to help us get there with high fidelity. The future of the Surge Institute has never been brighter and that future will inevitably be illuminated even further with this wonderful addition to our team.”
The Surge Institute is blessed to welcome Rodney Thomas to the team and looks forward to connecting and working to introduce the next facet of transformative executive leadership programming for emerging leaders of color.