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

 

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

 

Introducing the 15 Leaders of Color of the 2022 Chicago Surge Fellowship Cohort

(CHICAGO, IL – September 7th, 2021) As the Surge Institute approaches its seventh year as a national organization, the community is honored to welcome 15 emerging leaders of color who will join this movement as part of the 2022 Surge Fellowship cohort in Chicago. Joining the Surge family from all areas of work that serve youth and communities of color, from nonprofit to school administration and from philanthropy to youth development, this class of Black and Latinx leaders are united by the collective goal to transform systems and build towards a liberated future for all communities in Chicago.

When asked what it means to be a Surge Fellow in 2021, Cecily Relucio, Chicago Program Director for the Surge Fellowship shared,

“Being a 2022 Chicago Surge Fellow is to choose connection, belonging, love and critical hope as an antidote to the myriad of injustices we face as a city and a society that are causing human suffering at local and global levels. It is about coming together in solidarity to build the world that we so desperately need, in order for our young people and us to collectively heal, thrive and be well. My hope and intention is for our Surge Chicago team, hand-in-hand with these powerful leaders of Color, to co-create a beloved community where we can just be, in our fullest and truest expressions of our humanity, and where we can cultivate our freedom dreams for the education of our peoples.”

See below for a full list of 2022 Surge Chicago Fellows:

The Surge Fellowship is a signature program of the Surge Institute, which serves as a best-in-class, cohort experience that unites, accelerates and empowers emerging leaders of color in education. Earlier this year, Surge Chicago kicked off its recruitment season in an effort to select the next class of Surge Chicago Fellows, and over the course of the season they had the honor of gathering with a community of supporters and leaders at the powerful space #LeadTheSurge; engaging in a moving Fireside Chat with Dr. Bettina L. Love on the struggles and possibilities of committing to an abolitionist goal of educational freedom; and personally connecting with Chicago leaders seeking to learn more about this work and the Surge movement. Intentions and aspirations were set on holding spaces where Chicago leaders of color could gather to build coalition and participate in candid dialogue around what is most impacting youth and communities of color today.

“Historically, systemic marginalization has played a role in the plight of Black and Latinx individuals and families,” said 2022 Surge Fellow Ugochukwu Ukasoanya. “Racism, bias, and oppression has contributed to divided communities, segregated public schools, resource inequities, broken public trust, and called integrity into question. This fellowship will allow me to challenge, disrupt, and dismantle all forms of systemic inequities and champion those who are ignored and unfairly vilified,” he continued.

Throughout the Surge Fellowship, fellows center each other’s lived experiences and personal talents as Black and Latinx leaders in order to fully realize the impact and equitable change they collectively envision for their communities. A key milestone in the experience is the Freedom Dreams Project (formerly known as the capstone presentation). This project is each fellow’s culminating work that dives into a major project they hope to actualize that is most reflective of their hopes and aspirations of love, justice and equity — for the community and for themselves as education and youth-serving leaders.

Due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and in light of developments around emerging variants, the organization has determined that all Surge programming will be held virtually through the end of 2021.

The Surge Fellowship was initially created with the goal of expanding diversity in the education leadership pipeline, and it has expanded in reach far and wide, activating, elevating, and connecting mission-driven minds and thought leaders across the nation. This work is made possible by Surge’s community partners, funders, supporters and folks who believe in the genius that already exists in communities of color.

If you are interested in investing in the 2022 Surge Chicago cohort, consider making a contribution to the Surge Forward Fund, which goes directly towards covering tuition amount and supporting the journey of a fellow who would otherwise be unable to cover such the price of the fellowship, or by becoming an IMPACT Community Member.

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.

To learn more about The Surge Institute, please visit: https://www.surgeinstitute.org/

Surge Institute Launches Abolitionist Design Lab with Seven Surge Chicago Alumni

(Chicago, IL – August 30th) The Surge Institute is excited to announce that seven Surge Chicago Alumni have been selected to join its inaugural Abolitionist Design Lab. Beginning in August 2021, the selected alumni will participate in a cohort-based professional learning and accountability community centered on abolitionist practice and liberatory design, which will meet monthly and will culminate in March 2022 with a celebratory Gallery Walk of the alumni’s final creations.

Participating Surge Alumni include:

 

The Abolitionist Design Lab initiative is designed to honor the legacy of abolitionist practice and support practitioners in actualizing that practice, with the goal of building solutions, initiatives, policies, and responses to real-world obstacles and impediments to dignity and humanity. The Design Lab will be facilitated by 2019 Surge Alums Lydia Mercer and Terrence Pruitt, and they will use Dr. Bettina L. Love’s We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom, as a guide to abolitionist practice and design. 

 

 

The Surge Chicago Abolitionist Design Lab is made possible through the contribution of Crown Family Philanthropies.

Sign up for the Surge Institute’s Quarterly Newsletter to stay informed about upcoming events, news and related developments. If you are interested in investing in Surge Chicago’s work, consider making a contribution to the Surge Institute (select Chicago), which goes directly towards supporting the Surge Chicago community of 135 alumni as well as accompanying programs such as the Chicago Surge Fellowship and the Abolitionist Design Lab.

 

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

Surge Institute and Education Forward DC Partner for Washington, D.C. Launch of the Surge Academy, an Executive Program for Leaders of Color in Education

Are you or a leader you know interested in learning more about the 2022 Surge Academy cohort in D.C.? All candidates can fill out this form to be notified of upcoming virtual events as well as when the application is live. The program’s homepage can also be referenced for any updates regarding the application timeline.

(Washington, D.C. – August 23, 2021) The Surge Academy, a national program that develops, elevates and unites leaders of color within the education and youth-serving space, will be expanding to Washington, D.C. The expansion of the Surge Academy is made possible thanks to a partnership with Education Forward DC, an organization that accelerates the work of visionary education leaders to foster a city of high-quality, equitable public schools for every DC student and family.

Designed by the Surge Institute, the Surge Academy program provides an intensive leadership experience, packed with powerful content that explores executive skills such as finance, strategic planning and change management. In addition, throughout the program, fellows engage in a deep and unflinching dialogue about personal growth, trauma and the true state of diversity, equity and inclusion in the United States. Jahna Riley (KC’20), an alumna of the program and Founder of Aya Coffee + Books, shares what she gained personally from her Surge Academy experience:

“I’ve leaned into my values, and I am much more self-assured and unapologetic. Because of my Surge experience, what was once a dream and a long-term goal is now a reality. I have grown to be comfortable with calling myself an educator, an entrepreneur, and a Visionary.”

Launched in Kansas City, the six-month fellowship program originally brought together a cohort of 11 African-American and Latinx emerging leaders to explore how they can collectively transform education to best serve all youth and communities. To date, the program has graduated three cohorts, two in Kansas City and one in Indianapolis respectively, totaling 44 leaders who have transitioned into Surge’s National Alumni Network of more than 200 leaders of color. In previous expansions of the program, the Surge Institute has partnered with organizations such as:

Investing in the Surge Academy is part of the Education Forward DC’s commitment to building a future where students starting furthest from opportunity can chart their own path and thrive​. Fonda Sutton, Partner, Public Engagement at Education Forward, shares what the partnership means for leaders of color in the Washington, D.C. educational landscape:

“An education system that serves all students better is only possible if the voices, experiences, and needs of communities of color figure more prominently in our city’s education planning and decision-making,” shared Sutton. “Surge Academy DC will focus on building up and networking leaders who have shared experiences with the communities we care about and provide space for fellows to challenge and support one another in building on their dreams for students of color. We are excited to support the creation of a stronger network of Black and Latinx leaders united in shifting existing power dynamics and driving systemic change for education in DC.”

Upon graduating from the Surge Academy, fellows maintain a deep connection to the Surge national movement, united in the purpose of building an equitable future for communities of color.

To learn more about applying to the Surge Academy in Washington, D.C., the Surge Institute welcomes local leaders of color to attend an upcoming virtual networking event. These spaces are an opportunity to be in community with like-minded leaders and learn more about the program’s recruitment process. Registration and additional details are available on the Surge Academy homepage. Applications for the cohort will open in November 2021.

Sign up for the Surge Institute’s Quarterly Newsletter and follow the Surge Institute and Surge Academy 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.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

Surge Institute Welcomes Fifth Oakland Surge Fellowship Cohort

(OAKLAND, CA – August 18th, 2021) The Surge Institute is excited to welcome 17 leaders from across the Bay Area to join the 2022 Oakland Surge Fellowship cohort. As the organization enters its fifth programmatic year in Oakland, these fellows join a vast network of mission-driven leaders who are currently working within the education and youth-serving space, united by the collective goal to transform systems and build towards a future where the nation’s young people and communities of color can thrive.

The Surge Fellowship is a best-in-class, spirited experience for emerging leaders of color in education. During selection for the cohort, the Surge Institute identifies and elevates promising education leaders of color to engage in a collaborative learning environment guided by Surge’s four programmatic objectives: Dream Big, Focus Inward, Know the Landscape, and Make an Impact. With experience ranging in sectors from philanthropic to youth development, from nonprofit to traditional school administration, the 2022 Surge Oakland cohort will embark on a transformational, professional journey in which they will build community, freedom dream and collectively center on the importance of healing for communities of color all while unlocking unique leadership and advocacy skills. 

“Throughout the recruitment season, we put out a call for leaders of color who are ready and able to do the work of clarifying and strengthening their leadership. I am so grateful for all of the strong leaders who applied, and I am eager to get this year’s fellowship off the ground, said Yvonne Rodriguez, Ph.D., Program Director for the Surge Fellowship in Oakland. “In this season of the continuing impact and evolution of the climate crises, COVID-19 pandemic and white supremacy rage, we know that communities of color are disproportionately impacted by these added burdens. Our people need and deserve leaders they can trust now. This cohort is deeply committed and connected to the community, and they understand the complexity of the work ahead and are ready to jump in. I look forward to being in community with them and to witness their impact,” she continued.

See below for a full list of 2022 Surge Oakland Fellows:

Traditionally, the Surge Fellowship has transpired through monthly in-person sessions held at Bay Area-based organization venues focused on generating social impact for surrounding communities, such as the National Equity Project, Greenlining Institute and College Track. Last year due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all sessions were held virtually to ensure the safety of the Surge community. In light of recent developments around emerging variants, the organization has determined that all Surge programming will be virtual through the end of 2021. Surge hopes to gradually transition to an in-person or hybrid format as soon as safely possible.

“As people of color in this country, our stories have been, and continue to be, about striving and persisting in the face of ‘no’ and ‘not yet.’ And yet, through the generations, we’ve still found ways to excel,” said Swen Ervin, Director, Civil Service & Paraeducator Staffing at SFUSD. “Surge provides an opportunity to knock down the barriers for ourselves and for young people. We must create a future that says ‘yes’ and ‘right now’ for our youth – and we’re long overdue. And by continuing to bring like-minded people together, Surge helps us amplify our voices, the voices who came before and those yet to come. I want to be part of that. I want to see a future where all kids know that they already possess everything they need.”

Over the course of the 2022 Oakland Surge Fellowship, fellows will center each other’s lived experiences and personal talents as leaders of color in order to fully realize the multi-generational impact that they collectively envision for their communities. At the culmination of the program, Surge Fellows will complete a Capstone Project. The Surge Fellowship in Oakland utilizes Liberatory Design (LD) as the foundation for Capstone Projects. Through this framework, fellows will engage the community in defining challenges and designing solutions that result in love, justice and equity. In this way, they will ideate and take action on an initiative that is reflective of the hopes and aspirations of communities of color.

The Surge Fellowship was created with the goal of expanding diversity in the education leadership pipeline, and this program and its impact has expanded in reach far and wide, activating, elevating, and connecting mission-driven minds and thought leaders across the nation. This work is made possible by Surge’s community partners, funders, supporters and people who believe in investing in the genius that already exists in communities. 

If you are interested in investing in the 2022 Surge Oakland cohort, consider making a contribution to the Surge Forward Fund, which goes directly towards covering tuition amount and supporting the journey of a fellow who would otherwise be unable to cover such the price of the fellowship, or by becoming an IMPACT Community Member.

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 in 2014, 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. 

To learn more about The Surge Institute, please visit: https://www.surgeinstitute.org/ 

Welcome Surge Alumna Osayuware (Tina) Enagbare to Oakland Advisory Board

(Oakland, CA) The Surge Institute is excited to welcome a dynamic trailblazer to our Local Oakland Advisory Board. Please join us in welcoming Osayuware (Tina) Enagbare (OAK’18)!

This is an exciting moment as Surge Oakland welcomes an alumna of the inaugural Oakland Surge Fellowship into a role that heightens her commitment to our mission and vision for equity in education within the Bay Area. Members who are currently a part of Surge Oakland’s Advisory Board include:

“My Surge Fellowship experience was transformative for me,” she said. “It was the first space where I was encouraged to name and own that working in the education sector is more than a career; it’s deeply personal for me. I committed to this work because I don’t want students of color to have the same experiences I had in schools and school systems – being othered, marginalized, and unheard.”

A passionate community-centered philanthropist, she currently serves as the Vice President of Talent & Equity at Peer Health Exchange. With many previous years in the for-profit sector with experience in Fortune 250 & consulting firms, she later transitioned her career to the non-profit sector to fulfill her passion of empowering communities. “I am joining Surge Oakland’s Advisory Board to add my perspective as an Surge Alum and share my Talent Management expertise to inform the fellowship experience in Oakland. Surge Oakland (as the first expansion city for Surge) is also deepening it’s investment in Alumni programming in bold and exciting ways,” she continued. “I’m excited to lend my voice on how we can bridge the Fellow-to-Alumni experience to assure we are using our collective genius and expertise to better education and youth-serving organizations for Oakland students!”

If you are interested in supporting and connecting with our work in Oakland and the Bay Area, please contact our Oakland Team at oakland@surgeinstitute.org.