January 2022 Diego Báez

The Poetry Foundation has welcomed Diego Báez (CHI’19) as a new Harriet Books reviewer. Named after Harriet Monroe, the founding editor of Poetry Magazine, Harriet Books centers the work of poets and serves as a portal to the latest poetry-related news.

Read more here.

January 2022 Dirrick Butler

Dirrick Butler (CHI’19) has transitioned to a full-time role of Project OneTen. Founded by Butler as part of his fellowship capstone project, the organization that engages and mentors Black and Brown boys in Chicago during the transition to high school by empowering them to recognize and develop their strengths, academic confidence, and innate brilliance.

As the new Executive Director of Project OneTen, he will lead fundraising, support the development of transformational programming, set a vision and path for growth and deeper impact, and increase organization awareness in the broader Chicago education landscape.

Learn more about Project OneTen at: www.projectoneten.org

November 2021 Ashley N. Leonard

Ashley N. Leonard (CHI’17) served as a panelist for Forefront’s monthly Philanthropy Club convening titled “Black Philanthropy: Money, Mentoring, and More” in her role as a co-chair of the South Side Giving Circle at the Chicago Foundation of Women.

This session was an opportunity to hear from Black philanthropists who support people, causes, and institutions through giving circles, donor-advised funds, alumni programs, and other vehicles. Other panelists included: G. Sequane Lawrence – Fathers, Families, and Healthy Communities, Nicole Layton – Chicago Community Trust; and Rodney Reid – President, RLR Associates, Inc., CEO, NXG Youth Motorsports, Inc., and Team Principal, Force Indy, LLC

Watch a replay of the entire session here.

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

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.

September 2021 Jonathan and Shenita

Jonathan Chaparro (CHI’17) and Shenita Johnson (CHI’17) have been appointed to the BES National Board of Directors. BES is an organization that invests in leaders so that they can invest in their teams and students, delivering on the promise of an excellent education for every child.

September 2021 Cristina Marquez

Cristina Marquez (KC’20) has begun serving as an adjunct instructor at her alma mater, The University of Kansas (KU).

“I have served and will continue to serve as a Field Instructor for MSW students and will also begin serving as a Field Liaison/Lecturer. This is a stretch assignment for me, but Surge gave me the tools and confidence that I needed to take this leap and do something that I never thought I could and never thought I would have the opportunity to do.” Congratulations Cristina!