December 2019 Candace-Moore

December 2019

At the PILI Annual Awards Luncheon, Shareholder and Secretary of the Public Interest Law Initiative (PILI) Board of Directors, Daniel Lange, presented the Distinguished Intern Alumni Award to 2015 Surge Chicago Alum and former PILI intern, Candace Moore.

December 2020 Ma’at Lands

“Tech is something that is still moving forward. While the world has to stop and the world has slow down we know, and we see that the tech world and tech industry is still moving forward.” — Ma’at Lands

Rooted School (Ma’at Lands, Founding School Leader and 2021 Surge Academy Fellow), Eleven Fifty Academy and the Indianapolis Recorder newspaper have started a partnership with Innopower to provide more opportunities in the tech industry for Black scholars and scholars of color. Learn more about this important partnership in this feature from WISH-TV.

December 2020 Candace Moore

2015 Surge Chicago Alum, Candace Moore’s Office of Equity and Racial Justice for the city of Chicago has announced a citywide Together We Heal initiative, which invites Chicagoans between now and the end of January to organize around racial healing — acknowledging and discussing past wrongs, addressing consequences of individual and systemic racism, working together toward solutions.

Learn more about the initiative in this Chicago Tribune feature.

December 2020 Chicago Public Schools

Surge Chicago Alumni have been elected as representatives for Local School Council(s) within Chicago Public Schools. See below for full results.

October 2020 DuJuan Smith

DuJuan Smith, 2015 Surge Chicago Alum, has successfully defended his dissertation, Black While Leading: Unmasking the Lived Experiences of Senior-Level Black Men Administrators at Historically White Institutions and earned his Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Higher Education/Higher Education Administration.

May 2020 Adanta Ahanonu

April 2020

2019 Surge Oakland Alum, Adanta Ahanonu, has accepted a new position as Senior Director of Program for California at COOP Careers. The organization’s mission is to build a diverse movement of upwardly mobile college grads overcoming underemployment through digital skills and peer connections.

November 2020 Halleemah Nash

“To be of service to the younger me.” 2017 Surge Chicago Alum, Halleemah Nash, appeared on The Drew Barrymore Show where she shared the impact she’s had through her company, Rosecrans Ventures. Check out her feature HERE and visit to learn more about her work.

August 2020 Aurora Flores Garcia

Aurora Flores Garcia (CHI’18) has been promoted to Director of Undergraduate Success at National Louis University. In her new role, she will oversee the work of the Student Success Coaching team. This team works with undergraduate students towards the mission of NLU of becoming national leaders and in closing the opportunity gap in Bachelor’s degree attainment and employment. Graduates will achieve upward mobility, leading to positive outcomes for themselves, their families, and communities.

The Surge Institute Welcomes New Chief of Staff

(Chicago, IL) – The Surge Institute would like to warmly welcome Aeriell Robinson to the team as the inaugural Chief of Staff. In her role, Aeriell will collaborate with the President, Board, and staff to lead strategic planning, manage critical projects for the organization and the President, coordinate board management, and plan and manage systems, structures, and processes in support of Surge’s internal team.

Aeriell joins the Surge family with over a decade of experience leading strategy, process improvement and project management. She has worked in leadership positions in two school districts where she drove transformation through strategic planning, organizational effectiveness and enhancing intergovernmental relationships. She most immediately served as the Director of Resource Strategy in the office of the Chief Financial Officer at Atlanta Public Schools, and she worked with Palm Beach County Schools prior. She is also the Founder and President of Sharp Exchange Consulting where she has worked to guide and support districts and nonprofit organizations across the country seeking to effect positive change.

“I truly believe all students deserve access to a high-quality education regardless of their zip code. I’m inspired by the hope education brings and look forward to the meaningful work that transforms outcomes for kids. I’m excited to join a team that not only supports this but is focused on elevating and educating leaders of color to do just that,” she shared.

Before transitioning to public service, Aeriell worked as an Industrial Engineer and Management Consultant in the private sector. She holds a Master’s Degree in Education Leadership from The Broad Center for the Management of School Systems. And she is also a graduate of The University of Florida and The University of Central Florida where she obtained a Master’s and Bachelor’s Degree, respectively, in Industrial Engineering.

Aeriell continued, “As the Chief of Staff, I am ready to lead the work of the Strategic Plan that will take the Surge movement through 2024. And as Surge celebrates its five year anniversary, I’m excited to be a part of supporting and expanding the growth trajectory.” 

The Surge Institute is blessed to have Aeriell join the team and excited to continue building this movement alongside her and with a community of brilliant leaders of color across the nation.

November 2020 Joanna Vazquez Zelaya

2018 Surge Oakland Alum, Joanna Vazquez Zelaya, has accepted a new role as Public Policy Manager at Alliance for a Better Community. The mission of ABC is to promote economic prosperity of the Latino community and the Los Angeles region, inclusive of an improved quality of life for Latinos in education, health and civic participation.