Oakland, CA – On January 31st, the Surge Oakland community held a Fireside Chat with Dr. Bettina Love to discuss her book We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom. The evening also featured a dialogue on topics such as the current state of U.S. education, abolitionist teaching, and mental health prioritization for education leaders. Hosted at The Flight Deck in downtown Oakland, the space was filled with spirited leaders of color from all realms in education who are committed to serving our young people and communities.
Surge Alumnus and Executive Director of the Urban Ed Academy, Randy Seriguchi, Jr. kicked off the evening by sharing a few words on the importance of being in community with other leaders of color who are in an uphill battle to equitably serve families in the Bay Area and beyond.
“To be in the spaces we work in means we have to be unapologetic. And that’s what Surge is,” Seriguchi stated. He also shared his own vision for change in the Bay Area, connecting back to his 2018 Surge Fellowship capstone project, which centered on providing housing for Black male teachers in the Bay Area to alleviate the unexceptionally high living cost in the area for these leaders that the schools and their students need.
Afterwards, Surge Alumni Nicole Magtoto (2018) and Adanta Ahanonu (2019) led the collective through an exercise using the San Francisco Coalition of Essential Small Schools’ (SF-CESS) “Race Cards,” a medium that allows for authentic dialogue on racial healing and reflective discourse. Dr. Bettina Love reflected on a prompt relating to microaggressions experienced and the weight that is attached. She stated, “I don’t believe in microaggressions. I believe in aggression,” sharing that the “micro” component oftentimes gives leeway for white counterparts to escape seeing their statements or actions as inherently racist and/or ignorant.
Transitioning into the evening’s central topics, Dr. Love then touched on what it means to be an abolitionist and abolitionist teaching. She shared “To be an abolitionist means to put it on the line, to fight for it, to do what’s necessary for our Black children.” The conversation’s subject matter also intersected with that of allyship, specifically white allyship, and Dr. Love shared, “It (allyship) is not a mutual thing between us and white folks. I want them to use their privilege and be co-conspirators in order to truly support our communities.” The stigmatization of mental health within communities of color was also a topic of discussion in addition to its presence in one’s workplace. “We can’t have justice if we’re not well,” Dr. Love stated, and she continued, “I think as educators, we should all be in therapy, especially if you’re a parent. It has been one of the most wonderful journeys for me.” The gathering concluded with an emphasis on the mantra “just be;” as leaders of color in education, but more importantly just people, we need not always focus on the work or what the next venture may be. Dr. Love concluded the evening by sharing, “There is nothing that shines a light on white mediocrity like Black excellence.”
The Surge Oakland community is truly thankful for having a chance to have a transformative dialogue with Dr. Love on our collective work as educators and change-makers. You can follow her on social media @BLoveSoulPower or www.BettinaLove.com where you can also get a copy of We Want to Do More Than Survive: Abolitionist Teaching and the Pursuit of Educational Freedom.
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.
Over the past few months, Surge has had the honor of touring its first-ever short documentary film, Shades of Leadership, in the cities of Oakland, Chicago and most recently New York City (see the trailer HERE). Through the screenings, audience members heard from a variety of seasoned education experts on the importance of leaders of color within the education space and explored the narratives of young people who have been impacted by said leaders.
The film made its first stop in the Bay Area on September 24th, premiering at the New Parkway Theater in Oakland, CA. Following the screening, audience members engaged in a dialogue with four education leaders local to the Bay Area:
- Christopher P. Chatmon, Deputy Chief of Equity, Oakland Unified School District (OUSD)
- Nhi Truong, 9th Grade Advisor, MetWest High School
- Dr. Cesar A Cruz, Co-founder, Homies Empowerment
- Ty-Licia Hooker, 2019 Surge Oakland Alumna; Executive Director & Co-Founder, Student Success and Leadership Academy
A key point from the film that was further discussed in terms of its weight and importance was the following: “Until we can build the cadre of leaders of color, we’re going to continue to have these struggles about what decisions are the right decisions, what decisions are the best decisions.” (Ladson-Billings, Shades of Leadership)
Weeks later, Shades of Leadership premiered at Taste 222 in Chicago, IL on October 1st. The afternoon continued building on the layer of conversation from the Oakland screening by delving into the notion of what it means to raise your voice in the spaces that ultimately decide the fate of our youth and communities of color, particularly in education. Audience members joined in a discussion with:
- Dr. Cristina Pacione-Zayas, Associate Vice President of Policy for the Erikson Institute
- Dr. Gloria Ladson-Billings, Pedagogical Theorist, University of Wisconsin–Madison School of Education
- Dr. David Stovall, Professor of African-American and Educational Policy Studies, University of Illinois – Chicago
- Rudy Lozano Jr., Vice President of the Fellowship Initiative, JPMorgan & Chase, 2018 Surge Fellowship Alumnus
- Roberto Rodriguez, Student, University of Illinois – Chicago
The afternoon offered the opportunity to touch on topics such as the education gap in the United States as well as how education leaders should engage with communities that have been on the lower receiving end of educational opportunity. During the panel discussion, Dr. Ladson-Billings stated, “Let’s move away from the notion of sympathy. That’s basically, ‘I feel for you, but I’m glad it’s not me.’ What we need to focus more on is empathy in our communities.”
The most recent destination of the documentary’s tour was the Nitehawk Cinema in Brooklyn on November 13th. Education Leader, Political Consultant and father of one of the voices in Shades of Leadership, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Luis A. Miranda, Jr. also joined the group for a fireside chat dialogue with American educator and activist, Kaya Henderson. The overarching theme of the evening was the call-to-action to support the folks and spaces that are presently engaged in the work of investing in leaders of color within the youth-serving & education space (i.e. the Surge Institute). As folks yearning for a brighter future for our young people, this coalition-building can only go so far without the investment of the catalysts in the room and beyond.
Each of the screenings this year served as a space of authenticity and collectivism within the education space. They themselves were acts of defiance against the status quo of a present white-dominant ecosystem. Shades of Leadership will be released in early 2020 in an effort to continue sharing the stories of the impact of leaders of color, and the Surge Institute looks forward to continue doing its part in the elevation of transformative leaders of color who, along with their communities, are reclaiming their narratives and redefining the future of education.
Continue learning about the Surge Institute at www.surgeinstitute.org and follow the Surge movement on social media @SurgeFellowship and @SurgeOakland.
We are proud to announce the graduation of our fifth Surge Chicago cohort and welcome them into our National Surge Alumni community!
On August 24th, 2019, The Surge community gathered to celebrate the collective brilliance of the 2019 Surge Chicago Fellows, the Emergents, at their graduation ceremony. The event was held at the Hilton Chicago/Oak Brook Hills Resort in Oak Brook, IL. This final chapter of the cohort’s fellowship journey served as a signal for another transformational beginning: the intentional, purposeful and daily work to continue leading authentically and in their full power as Surge Alumni!
Tamara Prather, Executive Director for the Chicago branch of the Surge Fellowship, kicked off the afternoon with words and acknowledgments that opened the space as one of community, love, and collectivism. She then welcomed the graduation keynote speaker, Chief Executive Officer for OneGoal and 2015 Surge Fellowship Alumna, Melissa Connelly. Melissa shared her story of being one of the inaugural members of the Surge Fellowship program and the continuous impact it has had on her leadership and her personal journey today.
Afterward, Erica Bauer, 2018 Surge Fellowship Alumna and Director of Student Engagement at Walter Payton College Prep took the stage to share what the first year after completing the fellowship entailed for her and the rest of her cohort family. “Though one graduates from the fellowship, the growth and work of authentic, heartfelt leadership is ongoing.” Erica Bauer then introduced the afternoon’s next speaker, Terrence Pruitt.
Terrence was selected by his fellow cohort members as the 2019 fellow speaker. He used the space to craft a beautiful story, comparing the collective work of his fellow Emergents as part of a larger ecological circle, needing everyone’s brilliance to thrive and to “just be.”
Cecily Relucio Hensler, Program Director for the Surge Chicago Fellowship, then transitioned the space to the Circle of Affirmation. Through this ceremony, the Emergents introduced one another through the exchanging of familial and supportive words, marking the conclusion of their fellowship. It has truly been amazing to see the transformations that have taken place within the 2019 Surge Chicago cohort, and we are excited to see the Emergents’ impact and reach continue throughout the city of Chicago and beyond!
See the full list of the Surge Chicago 2019 Graduates below and click HERE to view photos from the ceremony!:
- Onel Abreu, Assistant Principal, Rowe-Clark Math and Science Academy
- Ana Agarrat, Development Associate, Network for College Success, The University of Chicago
- Diego Báez, Faculty, Harry S. Truman College
- Chanelle Bell, Senior Government and Community Organizer, Noble Network of Charter Schools
- Dirrick Butler, Director of Development and Programs, EPIC Academy
- Everett Daily
- Cheryl Flores, Director of Academic and Social Emotional Supports, Golden Apple Foundation
- Melissa Flores, Senior Director, Programs & Quality Assurance, Erie Neighborhood House
- Nick Freeman, Co-Founder & President, Innovare – Social Innovation Partners
- Ngozi Harris, WOW Training Manager, Youth Guidance
- JuDonne Hemingway, Managing Director, Corps Member Development, Teach For America Indianapolis
- Janene Ingram, Managing Director, Strategy & Chief of Staff, Collective Leadership & Engagement, Teach for America
- Jessica Jones-Lewis, Senior Program Coordinator, College Possible
- Cecily Langford, Assistant Principal, Farragut Career Academy IB World School
- Helen Loving, Teacher Resident/Student Support for 5th and 6th Grade, KIPP Chicago
- Lydia Mercer, Director of Secondary Supports, National Program Team, OneGoal
- Jordan Owens, Speech, Language, and Audiology Coordinator, Chicago Public Schools
- Terrence Pruitt, Founder/Principal Consultant, Project Restore Initiative
- Aimee Rodriguez, Director of Title IX Compliance and Training, Chicago Public Schools
- Steven Rosado, Founder, Rosado Consulting Collaborative
- Ernesto Saldivar, Jr., Principal, Torres Elementary Acero Schools
- Nina Smith, Executive Director, LEAP (Language Empowers All People)
- Jacare Thomas, Manager of Data Strategy, Chicago Public Schools
- Myra Winding, Special Projects Manager, Chicago Public Schools
Our family has reached triple digits with the recent graduation of The Radical Collective, Surge Oakland’s second ever Fellowship cohort!
On July 13th, 2019, The Surge Institute celebrated the work and collective journeys of the 2019 Oakland Fellows with a graduation ceremony at the beautiful Cavallo Point Lodge in Sausalito, CA. Family, friends, and loved ones were present for the occasion, bringing this chapter for the 2019 Oakland Fellows to a close, while also opening the door to their new roles as Surge Alumni.
The afternoon kicked off with Surge Board of Directors member, Darryl Cobb, who introduced the Surge space through a community lens. Afterwards, attendees heard from Nicole Magtoto, Educational Policy Analyst for the San Francisco Unified School District and Surge Oakland 2018 Fellow, who spoke on her Surge experience as well as the importance of continuing the collective work with the Surge Alumni community. She noted that this movement is bigger than any individual. It’s a collective, a tribe, a family of fierce leaders.
Ty-Licia Hooker, Executive Director for Boost! West Oakland and Stockton Success and Leadership Academy, then took the stage to give a few words on behalf of the Radical Collective. Ty-Licia was selected by her fellow cohort members as the 2019 Fellow speaker, sharing her story on overcoming imposter syndrome and recognizing our own genius as leaders in a space where we can’t afford to short change ourselves. Fred Blackwell, CEO of The San Francisco Foundation, served as the keynote speaker for the ceremony, speaking on how valuable the Fellows’ work is, specifically to communities of color in the Bay Area who need leaders representative of them.
The power of this ceremony never ceases to amaze us, reminding our entire community of the importance of celebration and showing up for ourselves and our people!
See the full list of the Surge Oakland 2019 Graduates below and click HERE to view photos from the ceremony:
- Adanta Ahanonu, Site Director, Year Up
- Janelle Bailey, Interim Site Director/Academic Affairs Director, College Track
- Paul Fields, Site Director, College Track
- Roilyn Graves, Program Specialist, Envision Education
- Ty-licia Hooker, Executive Director, Boost! West Oakland and Stockton Success and Leadership Academy
- Taica Hsu, Co-Director of Mentoring, Trellis Education
- Sanam Jorjani, Co-Director, Oakland Literacy Coalition
- Jayo Miko Macasaquit, HR & Operations Manager, Oakland Public Education Fund
- Kyra Mungia, Education Project Director, Office of Mayor Schaaf, Oakland Promise
- Zakir Parpia, Director of Fiscal Partnerships, California School-Age Consortium
- Dulce Torres-Petty, Brilliant Baby Program Coordinator, Office of Mayor Schaaf, Oakland Promise
Surge hosted an annual #LeadTheSurge reception in Oakland and Chicago. At the event, education leaders, organizational partners, and emerging change-makers come together to celebrate the work of the Surge movement. It is also a time when we acknowledge the next cohort of folks who will embark on this transformational journey with other Fellows who will ultimately become like family.
#LeadTheSurge in Oakland
On June 6th, 2019, the Surge community gathered for #LeadTheSurge in Oakland, CA at the beautiful Port Workspaces venue in support of expanding the reach of leaders of color in the education space. Surge Oakland Executive Director, Michelle Seijas, kicked off the evening by welcoming guests and sharing her Surge story around the theme, your identity is not your obstacle, it is your superpower. Afterward, guests learned about the journeys of 2018 Alumna, Joanna Vazquez-Zelaya, and 2019 Fellow, Paul Fields, within their work of supporting youth in Oakland and the Bay Area. Our friends from the National Equity Project, Victor Cary and Lisa Lasky, also joined us and led a moving group dialogue on the importance and necessity of leaders of color in education. Program Director for Surge Oakland, Yvonne Rodrguez along with Michelle Siejas then opened the space up for community building as well as time for prospective Fellows to learn more about the Fellowship experience firsthand.
#LeadTheSurge in Chicago
Fast forward to June 13th, our Surge community gathered for #LeadTheSurge at The Lakewood in Chicago, IL, continuing the momentum of this empowering national movement! Surge Chicago Program Director, Cecily Relucio Hensler, started the evening by introducing the audience to what the Surge Institute is all about: changing the face of education leadership for our children and communities. Guests were then treated to the honest, heartfelt journey of 2019 Fellow, Everett Daily, and why he believes Surge to be a space for healing. Later, we learned about 2018 Alumna, Maraliz Salgado, and her journey after completing the Surge Fellowship and the change she was able to experience first hand and with her work community. Executive Director for Surge Chicago, Tamara Prather, concluded the evening by asking prospective fellow interested in applying for the Surge Fellowship – to do so – as it will be a decision that will bring out hidden, dormant energy that will help in the fight for educational equity.
We encourage anyone interested in being a part of the Surge Fellowship or learning more about the National movement to visit our website, follow us on social media, and reach out with any questions! If there is a part of you that has been looking for a space of support, transformation, and healing for leaders of color, this is that space. Now is your time to join this movement! #LeadTheSurge
The Surge Institute reaches another milestone in the history of our movement in education as we welcome the first ever graduates from the Surge Academy in Kansas City!
On June 1st, 2019, we celebrated the 2019 Surge Academy Fellows, as they were welcomed into the Surge Alumni community at the Guadalupe Centers in Kansas City, MO. Sly James, Mayor for the city of Kansas City, provided the keynote remarks, while 2019 Surge Academy Fellow and Postsecondary Retention Specialist for Kauffman Scholars, Yolanda Waldon, followed with some words regarding UNITY.
Providing some concluding thoughts for those in attendance was Surge Academy Program Director, Noemí Cortés, who thanked the now Surge Alumni as well as pushed the graduates to continue giving back to this movement to bring change to education for our children.
The ceremony represented a major shift in the Surge narrative as we continue to address the scarcity of leadership development programs for education leaders of color in all types of cities across the United States.
Click HERE to view photos from graduation!
See the full list of 2019 Surge Academy Graduates below:
Katie Boody, Chief Executive Officer, LEANLAB Education
Jennifer Collier, Chief Human Resources Officer, Kansas City Public Schools
Trinity Davis, Asst. Superintendent of Curriculum and Instruction, Kansas City Public Schools
Charles King, Executive Director, Kansas City Teacher Residency
Edgar Palacios, Founder, Latinx Education Collaborative
Selena Rios, Learning and 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
Erik Wilkinson, Director of Operations, Kauffman Scholars
That was the goal. That was the dream. That was the directive. And we did it!
The Surge Alumni Convening was the inaugural annual gathering for Surge Alumni to bring our community together in our efforts toward continued learning, best practices and access to education leaders of color. Five cohorts of Surge Fellowship Alumni united in power, love, determination, and genius, truly representing what this movement is all about: bringing our people together so that we can transform the world for our youth and communities.
We chose the word convening over conference, because his wasn’t a “sit and get” experience where folks expected to be presented to but rather a space for co-creation. We chose to focus on alumni specifically because this is an ongoing experience that could never have ended upon completing the fellowship experience. We chose the word inaugural because this is the first of many.
And what a first it was!
Surge Alums from all over the country led breakout sessions tackling a myriad of needs and spaces, from moving beyond trauma to racial equity to entrepreneurship. This is truly a growing body of thought leaders, ready to unite and transform what education looks like, and that has never been more evident than it was in NOLA!
Attendees heard from Jose Antonio Vargas about his personal journey as an “out” undocumented immigrant as well as the movement he is building with Define American. An esteemed local panel of powerful and brilliant leaders of color shared about the challenges of education in New Orleans and beyond. New Orleans artist Brandan “BMike” Odums took group on his leadership journey as an artist, activist and provocateur at his incredible warehouse turned art installation Studio Be. Chief Executive Officer at the Vocati Group and Surge Faculty member Dr. Nicholas Pearce gave honest answers on what it means to live in one’s purpose.
The inaugural convening was truly a converging of strength and brilliance, the likes of which the Surge movement has never seen, and we are eager to unite our alumni community again as we continue to grow in numbers, impact and connection.
The narrative has not been rewritten yet. But we’re off to a great start.