Surge Institute Welcomes Fourth Academy Cohort and the First in Washington, DC

(WASHINGTON, DC – December 16th, 2021) In partnership with Education Forward DC, the Surge Institute expanded their Academy fellowship program to Washington, DC earlier this year, and today, the organization officially welcomes 12 leaders from across the area to its fourth Academy cohort & inaugural DC cohort. 

The Surge Academy is a best-in-class program for emerging leaders of color in education. For this program, Surge identifies and accelerates promising education talent of color to enhance their expertise and aptitude, empowering them to transform the education ecosystem. Washington, DC Academy Program Director and 2017 Surge Alumna, Andrea Black Evans, M.Ed. shares what this moment means for the Surge movement and for communities of color in the area.

“The inaugural DC cohort signifies a victory towards our vision to transform the education landscape, and the profoundness of our purpose to empower Black and Brown leaders nationally.  I am gracious for the opportunity to serve the phenomenal fellows of DC, and I revel in the gravitas of this moment for our movement.”

Meet the 2022 Surge Academy DC Fellows:

The fellowship encompasses a combination of content areas and learning experiences to broaden exposure and accelerate skill and leadership development. Faculty members and informal advisors include high-profile leaders in education and other industries who facilitate and guide fellows’ learning. Throughout the seven-month program, Surge Fellows also develop competency in organizational management, relationship management, strategic planning and problem solving, navigating complex environments, and expertise in the history and structure of public education.

“As I approach two decades of experience in public education — and particularly after the last five years– I know I am not the same servant-leader,” shared Rhonda Henderson, Partnership Manager at Achievement Network and Surge Academy Fellow.“While my fundamental commitment to equity and a liberatory education system remain intact, my views of what’s possible have expanded. Surge means an opportunity to examine deeply what I know and believe about community, education, and agency.” She continues, “Surge is a family of thinkers, doers, and creators who amplify each other’s vision for a just, people-centered education ecosystem. Through the Surge Academy, I hope to refine my strengths in relationship-building and strategic thinking to support and elevate education-entrepreneurs.”

Upon completing this one-of-a-kind program, Surge Fellows have the skills necessary to accelerate their trajectory in leadership, along with a new understanding of the authenticity and power they bring to the education leadership table.

If you are interested in investing in Surge’s work, consider making a contribution to the #SurgeForMore end-of-year giving campaign. This year, Surge aims to raise $150,000, which will help fund the organization’s signature leadership programs while centering communities and leaders of color within the philanthropic landscape.

About the Surge Institute

The Surge Institute was established in 2014 with a simple but important mission to develop and elevate leaders of color who create transformative change for children, families, and communities. Founded by Carmita Semaan, the organization’s signature program, the Surge Fellowship, was designed to empower emerging diverse leaders to change the landscape of education by providing them with a unique, authentic leadership development experience. In 2018, the Surge Academy launched in Kansas City, bringing together a cohort of 11 African-American and Latinx emerging leaders to explore how to transform education to best serve all youth and communities. 

To learn more about The Surge Institute, please visit: https://www.surgeinstitute.org/ or or contact Surge’s Manager, Marketing & Outreach, Marisa Muñoz at marisa@surgeinstitute.org 

About Education Forward DC:

Education Forward DC works to advance quality and equity in DC public schools. We are committed to doubling the number of underserved students in Washington, DC in five years who are college and career ready, with a particular focus on at-risk and special education students. We provide grants across the city, offer advisory support to our grantees, and coordinate work across sectors, schools, and organizations in DC to ensure a great public school for every DC student. To learn more about Education Forward DC, please visit: www.edforwarddc.org 

 

November 2021 India and Keeanna

During the 100 Black Men of Indianapolis Dala (day-luh), India Johnson (INDY’21) and Keeanna Warren (INDY’21) were honored for their distinguished performance in the field of education as well as their outstanding service to the African American community in Indianapolis and beyond with the Dr. George W. Rawls Emerging Leaders Award.

This award is giving at the annual 100 Black Men of Indianapolis celebration, in recognition of leaders in the fields of medicine, science, and education.

 

December 2021 AJ DeLeón

AJ DeLeón (CHI’15) has completed the Stanford Latino Entrepreneurship Initiative – Education Scaling Program sponsored by the Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) and the Latino Business Action Network (LBAN). He was also selected as valedictorian for the cohort.

Learn more about the initiative here.

December 2021 Zuleica Lopez

Zuleica Lopez (OAK’20) was promoted to Senior Director of Program at OneGoal, an organization whose mission is to close the degree divide in America.

Learn more about OneGoal at: www.onegoalgraduation.org

November 2021 Ajia Morris

Ajia Morris (KC’20) was recognized as one of 20 to Know in Commercial Real Estate by the Kansas City Business Journal. Her first project is renovating a 3.7acre city block that is home to a historic elementary school which has been vacant for over 14yrs. Partnering with KCPS and Dr. Trinity Davis (KC’19), Founder of Teachers Like Me, the LocalCode KC is committed to proving workforce affordable housing as well as incentives to recruit, retain, and house Black teachers into Kansas City.

Learn more about LocalCode KC: www.localcode.co

Meet the New Faces of the Surge Leadership Team

(Chicago, IL – October 13, 2021) The Surge Institute is excited to share that our National Leadership Team is once again growing in a very special way.

Stepping into the movement are three leaders who will support #TheSurgeAhead into the future, expanding and supporting our work through their bountiful, rich experience in leading program and development efforts. Please join us in welcoming these movement makers!

A lifelong Chicagoan, Carlos Trejo is a fund development professional and DEI advocate in the nonprofit sector. In his new role as the Director of Development at Surge, he will work to manage and enhance individual giving through fundraising campaigns and donor engagement opportunities. In addition, he has been a member of the Association of Fundraising Professionals since 2012 and joined the Chicago Chapter’s Board of Directors in 2019. In 2020, he served as the Vice President of Inclusion, Diversity, Equity, and Access. He is also the founder and now co-chair of AFP Chicago’s Latinx Affinity Group, which provides a space for Latinx-identifying fundraising professionals to come together to network, share resources, and build community. He is an experienced public speaker and facilitator and a proud alum of the YNPN Chicago Executive Board.

Joining the team as a Program Director for the Surge Academy is Janeen Lee. Through her 20+ year career in education, Janeen has developed expertise in culturally sustaining curriculum design and instruction, designing and leading large-scale professional development, and managing high-impact teams. Prior to Surge, Janeen was the K-12 Social Science Manager for Chicago Public Schools and led the team that provided culturally relevant instructional coaching, professional learning and curriculum design support to all Social Science teachers across the nation’s third-largest district.

A recent Alum of the 2021 Surge Fellowship in Oakland, Xavier Buster will step into a new role as Program Director for Surge Oakland. A school dad, candle maker, rap connoisseur, culture curator, he is most notably known for his ability to build community, and he has vast experience in strategically curating events and experiences that have helped leaders in schools and other education advocacy organizations improve their culture, grow professionally, and build their network. It was during his time at Prairie View A&M University when he realized his passion for investing in people. Prior to his new role, Xavier supported Teach for America Bay Area community by designing multiple pathways for leaders to engage and multiplying the number of alumni ambassadors in the region.

Welcome Family!

Remember to sign up for the Surge Institute’s Quarterly Newsletter and follow the Surge Institute on social media to stay informed about upcoming events, news and related developments.

Want to invest in the Surge movement? Consider making a one-time gift or make your investment on an ongoing basis through our IMPACT Community program.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Marisa Muñoz

marisa@surgeinstitute.org

c: 773-251-7475

About The Surge Institute:

The Surge Institute is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established with a simple but important mission to develop and elevate leaders of color who create transformative change for children, families, and communities. Founded by Carmita Semaan in 2014, the organization was designed to empower emerging diverse leaders to change the landscape of education by providing them with a unique, authentic leadership development experience. To learn more about The Surge Institute, please visit: www.surgeinstitute.org

 

October 2021 Sonya Mehta

Sonya Mehta (OAK’18) has started a new role as the new Chief of Staff at Families in Action for Quality Education (FIA Oakland).

FIA Oakland is a community-organizing coalition working to build collective power around issues that impact equitable access to quality education in Oakland, by developing the leadership capacity of school parents, youth, educators, school leaders, and educational justice allies.

October 2021 AJ DeLeón

AJ DeLeón (CHI’15) was recently nominated and elected into membership of the ECC. Membership in this exclusive club connects him with the heart of Chicago’s C-Suite to learn from more experienced leaders and to enhance the brand awareness and impact of his organization, Innovare, locally and beyond.

Chicago Program Director Interviewed on WCPT 820 – Chicago’s Progressive Talk

(Chicago, IL – September 16, 2021) Cecily Relucio, Surge Chicago Program Director, was interviewed on Chicago’s WCPT 820 – Chicago’s Progressive Talk. During the segment, Cecily connected with Joan Esposito to speak on Surge’s national work, our fellow and alumni community and why this work is critical for young people and communities of color.

You can listen to a replay of the episode here or by visiting www.wcpt820.com.

Celebrating Surge Staff Members in Transition!

(Chicago, IL – September 15th, 2021) Over the summer season, Surge has continued to develop, expand and evolve into the next chapter as a national movement: last month the 2022 Chicago and Oakland Surge Fellowship cohorts were announced, and the organization is in the early stages of recruiting leaders for the inaugural Washington DC Surge Academy cohort and its 2022 Indianapolis Surge Academy cohort. Today we are excited to share recent growth and transitions that are happening within our National and Local Leadership Teams. 

Beginning early September, Michelle Seijas, Ed.D. will transition out of her role as Executive Director for Surge Oakland to support Surge in new ways and focus more time on her coaching and consulting practice (@ThrivingChingona). Michelle will continue to support our movement as a contractor over the next year – serving as the interim Executive Director of Surge Academy, providing onboarding and support for our new Program Directors and building the foundation for excellence in future Academy sites. Michelle will also serve as an Executive Coach for Surge Fellows as necessary. Yvonne Rodriguez, Ph.D. will assume the role of Executive Director for Surge Oakland. She has served as the Oakland Program Director for the past three years and will now step up to lead the Surge Institute’s work in Oakland and the Bay Area.

Additionally, 2017 Surge Alumna Andrea Black Evans, M.Ed has accepted the role as Program Director for the Surge Academy. In this role, Andrea will be responsible for the execution of the Surge Academy program within our newest program site, Washington, D.C. – this will include program delivery, evaluation as well as fellow selection and recruitment. 

Our VP of Development & External Affairs and 2017 Surge Alumnus Will Collins has been officially promoted to Chief Advancement Officer. In this newly created role, he will develop and lead strategies to build a large, diverse coalition to advance the cause of educational equity and engage a new generation of leaders to join the effort. In addition, the CAO will work collaboratively with leaders across the organization to create and execute an integrated vision for external affairs and directly manage our external partnerships, new site growth, fundraising, and alumni impact. 

Rodney Thomas has transitioned out of his role as VP of National Programs in order to focus on his family needs. He will continue to be in community with Surge as a speaker, education advocate and strong supporter to the vision of transforming education for our youth and communities. We are truly thankful for his service to our movement and our communities.

As Surge continues to grow and change, our collective aim is to ensure that we support our people in that growth – even when it means growing OUTSIDE of Surge. The future of Surge is bright and our needs, internally and externally, continue to evolve.

Sign up for the Surge Institute’s Quarterly Newsletter and follow the Surge Institute on social media to stay informed about upcoming events, news and related developments.

MEDIA CONTACT:

Marisa Muñoz

marisa@surgeinstitute.org 

c: 773-251-7475

About The Surge Institute:

The Surge Institute is a national 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that was established with a simple but important mission to develop and elevate leaders of color who create transformative change for children, families, and communities. Founded by Carmita Semaan in 2014, the organization was designed to empower emerging diverse leaders to change the landscape of education by providing them with a unique, authentic leadership development experience. To learn more about The Surge Institute, please visit: www.surgeinstitute.or