2018 Surge Fellows Graduate!

The Surge Institute reaches a powerful milestone in the history of our movement as thirty-five 2018 Surge Fellows across two cities graduate!

On August 18, 2018, we celebrated the Ascendants, our 2018 Chicago Surge Fellows, as they matriculated to alumni in a beautiful ceremony at the Hyatt Lodge in Oak Brook, Illinois. Chicago Public Schools CEO Janice K. Jackson Ed.D provided the keynote remarks, sharing the powerful story of her leadership journey.

Following Jackson was 2018 Surge Fellow Erica Bauer, Director of Student Engagement at Walter Payton College Preparatory Academy, who was chosen by her fellow Ascendants to be the voice of the graduating cohort at the ceremony. Erica was vulnerable, honest and deeply thoughtful about the importance of her role in the lives of youth of color.

Providing a charge to the Ascendants was 2017 Surge Alumna Halleemah Nash, Chief Partnerships Officer at The Academy Group, who pushed the graduates to continue giving back to the movement that connected and further developed them as leaders.

See more photos from the event.

On August 25, 2018, the inaugural Oakland Surge Fellowship cohort, the Alchemists, continued the moment with a moving graduation ceremony on the top floor of the Oakland Marriott.

Jim Shelton, Former Deputy Secretary of Education and President of Education for the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, provided the keynote remarks, sharing with the Alchemists the importance of the Surge movement and why he believes so deeply in the power of leaders of color.

Providing a charge to his fellow Alchemists was 2018 Surge Fellow Harold Pearson, Executive Director of SPAAT, who spoke about the collective power of the Surge community. Harold was selected by the Oakland graduating cohort to be the voice of the Alchemists during the ceremony.

See more photos from the event.

The two ceremonies represented a major shift in the Surge narrative, signifying the true emergence of a national network of mission-driven education leaders of color, all tied together by an unforgettably transformative fellowship experience.

See the full list of 2018 Surge Fellowship Graduates below:



August 2018 Sonya Mehta

August 2018

2018 Fellow Sonya Mehta has accepted the role of Director of Partnerships at The Teaching Well, an Oakland-based nonprofit consulting group that supports schools across California with teacher retention and wellness. Founded by teachers, for teachers, The Teaching Well works in partnership with schools to create thriving school ecosystems that more effectively retain, support, and leverage the brilliance of their educators. They do this by working with our partner sites to focus on adult well-being, healthy communication, and using teacher feedback to inform the creation of sustainable, supportive school systems.

August 2018 William Collins

2017 Fellow William Collins has been accepted to the 5th cohort of the Chicago Urban League IMPACT Leadership Development Program. Through IMPACT, the Chicago Urban League strives to move the needle toward racial parity in leadership positions by developing and supporting emerging African American leaders. The intensive, nine-month program begins in September and provides our Fellows with the broad knowledge base, keen insight, and sharpened perspective that will augment their effectiveness as leaders.

August 2018 LeShonne Segura

2015 Fellow LeShonne Segura has accepted the role of Manager of Program Investments for the Chicago Public Education Fund. In this role, LeShonne will manage a portfolio of programs and investments, managing a team of four. The Fund believes that solutions to the challenges in public schools exist. The Fund devotes time, leverages data and invests in programs and initiatives that enable Chicago to attract, support and keep strong principals.

August 2018 Susan Tovar

2018 Fellow Susan Tovar has accepted the role of Senior Director of Teacher Support for OneGoal. In this role, Susan will lead OneGoal’s Year 1 team to meet its end-of-the-year goals and implement the organizations new program model.

August 2018 Adrian DeLeon and Nick Freeman


2015 Fellow Adrian DeLeon and 2019 Fellow Nick Freeman were selected as 2018 LEANLAB K-12 Fellows. LEANLAB accelerates the growth of transformational innovations that address achievement gaps and inequities that persist in public education by giving immersive and intensive support to early-stage founders. The K12 fellowship is a startup accelerator program based in Kansas City, MO, designed to foster the growth of K12 education innovations.

August 2018 Tina Enagbare

2018 Fellow Osayuware (Tina) Enagbare has accepted the role of Vice President, Talent & Equity for Peer Health Exchange, Inc. In this role, Tina will guide people, culture, and how the organization lives out its core values and commitment to equity. As a member of executive leadership, she will provide the vision and leadership for ensuring PHE has the talent management strategy, systems, and team to execute its vision while leading the commitment to equity by setting the organization’s strategy, goals, and plans for being an inclusive, equitable organization, both internally and externally.