Surge Institute of Chicago Changes the Face of Education Leadership

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Surge Fellowship admits third cohort of education leaders of color, and welcomes a new cohort of Fellowship alumni.

2017 Surge Fellows
We desperately need more individuals with shared experiences with our young people and their communities in positions of influence and power across the landscape of education in Chicago.

Today the Surge Institute expanded the reach of its signature yearlong Fellowship program by announcing the acceptance of a diverse cohort of twenty-two (22) equity-minded, emerging African American and Latino Chicago education leaders. The 2017 Surge Fellowship Cohort, the Surge Institute’s 3rd, was selected from a group of 45 impressive applicants and is comprised of Fellows from across the education landscape – including Chicago Public Schools, various charter schools and networks, and non-profit youth-serving organizations.

Over the course of the Fellowship, Surge Fellows meet for eleven (11) sessions during which they receive executive skill training, leadership development and exposure to respected leaders and policymakers in education as they develop their own leadership and advocacy skills. While developing advanced leadership skills as a team, Fellows also complete individual capstone projects to advance the work of a new or existing Chicago education initiative. 2017 Fellowship awardee Jonathan Chaparro, Student Recruitment Manager for the Noble Network of Charter Schools was attracted to Surge because "The Surge Fellowship offers the opportunity to develop the skill-sets and operational excellence needed for executive leadership, while maintaining a clear focus on what matters most- closing the opportunity gap in low income communities.”

2017 Surge Fellowship Awardees

  • Stephanie Arias, Manager of Charter Support, Illinois Network of Charter Schools
  • Andres Avila, Manager of Student Services, Namaste Charter School
  • Andrea Black, Principal, Schmid Elementary School
  • Julianne Boulware, Founding Director of Culture and Community, Steel City Academy
  • Jonathan Chaparro, Student Recruitment Manager Noble Network of Charter Schools
  • William Collins, Senior Director of School Partnerships, OneGoal
  • Dominique Davis, Director of College Success, Chicago Scholars
  • Cesar Dominguez, Data Strategy Manager, Illinois Network of Charter Schools
  • Mario Earnest, Director of Special Projects, Intrinsic School
  • Alejandro Espinoza, Manager, Partnerships, Teach for America
  • D. Nigel Green, Assistant Principal, Muchin College Prep
  • Dawn Hicks, Chief Program Officer, Umoja Student Development Corporation
  • Tamara Hoff, Adjunct Professor, DePaul University
  • Bryan Jackson, Dean of Students, Chicago International Charter School | Bucktown
  • Shenita Johnson, General Counsel/Managing Director, Illinois State Charter School Commission
  • Halleemah Nash, Executive Director, Chicago, iMentor
  • Natalie Neris, Chief of Academic Accountability, Chicago International Charter School
  • Jawann Pollard, College Access Program Manager, LINK Unlimited Scholars
  • Ashley Richardson, Manager of Special Projects, The Chicago Public Education Fund
  • Nina Sanchez, Director of Talent Development, Teach for America
  • Andrea Serrano, Individual Giving Manager, City Year Chicago
  • Ashlie Tyler, National Director of Recruitment, SAGA Innovations

On August 20, 2016, the 2016 Fellows (The Vanguards), celebrated completion of the Fellowship during a private graduation ceremony held at McDonald's Hamburger University. New Alum Nicole Beechum describes the Fellowship as a “community” in which Fellows “push each other to step into leadership opportunities that will allow our voices to be heard on behalf of young people who look like us.”

“We desperately need more individuals with shared experiences with our young people and their communities in positions of influence and power across the landscape of education in Chicago,” says Carmita Semaan, Founder and President of The Surge Institute. Each new Surge Fellowship cohort builds an ever-widening network of capable and driven leaders of color seeking to improve the condition of public education in Chicago. Semaan adds, "Our vision is to dramatically change the face of leadership in education by preparing, connecting, supporting and elevating African-American and Latino leaders across organizations that are seeking to improve education options and outcomes for our children.”

About Surge

The Surge Institute broadly addresses issues of race and class in urban education through leadership development, technical assistance and advocacy. The Surge Fellowship develops high-potential talent within education to create the pipeline of influential education leaders of color. This network transforms status quo systems and approaches in education by sharing ownership of the change efforts, engaging communities in defining and working toward success, serving as role models for young people to pursue roles with influence and risk, and accessing financial capital and power brokers to develop new solutions.

Learn more about how you can #LeadTheSurge.

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Kali Patrice
Surge Institute
+1 (312) 513-8518
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Carmita Vaughan
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