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A powerful new step
in elevating and empowering
leaders of color

In collaboration with the Kauffman Foundation, the Surge Institute is developing, elevating and empowering education leaders of color via a new pilot program called the Surge Academy.

About Surge Academy

Having grown up in Birmingham, Alabama, Surge Founder and President Carmita Semaan has an acute awareness of the scarcity of leadership development programs for education leaders in mid-size to smaller cities across America.

While our signature program, the Surge Fellowship, has seen remarkable success and impact in Chicago and Oakland, the mission of the movement has always been to transform education for all our underserved youth and communities. This meant exploring an approach that addresses needs and communities that may be different from those of major metropolises.

With the mission in mind and heart, the Academy was born.

How does it work?

The Academy is a year-long cohort-based program designed to support the growth and professional development of African-American and Latinx leaders in education. The pilot program launched in Kansas City with eleven emerging education leaders. These leaders experience quarterly two-day convenings over the course of their fellowship experience, with interactive virtual modules in between.

The curriculum builds executive skills and community, going beyond professional development and encouraging Academy Fellows to look inward to understand how their racial and ethnic identities impact how they lead. Surge Academy Fellows engage in learning content around effective communication, leading for equity in complex systems, systems thinking and ending with content on leading and managing change to maximize the impact and contributions in their current organizations.

The Academy also helps foster a powerful network experience of mutual support and collaboration. We will also carefully match Academy Fellows with coaches of color who will support their executive and ontological development as a critical program component of the Academy.

Surge Academy Fellows

In its pilot year, the Academy is supporting, uniting, and further developing 11 Kansas City-based African-American and Latinx emerging leaders, using a model that differs from the fellowship but will offer the same transformative growth and empowerment.

Katie Boody

Chief Executive Officer

LEANLAB Education

Jennifer Collier

Chief Human Resources Officer

Kansas City Public Schools

Trinity Davis

Assistant Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction

Kansas City Public Schools

Charles King

Executive Director

Kansas City Teacher Residency

Edgar Palacios


Latinx Education Collaborative

Selina Rios

Learning & 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

Eric Wilkinson

Director of Operations

Kauffman Scholars