Welcome the 2021 Indianapolis Surge Academy Cohort!

Earlier this year, we made the exciting announcement of the Surge Academy’s expansion to Indianapolis, IN, thanks to the partnership of The Mind Trust, an education focused nonprofit organization whose mission is to provide every student in Indianapolis, no exceptions, with access to a high-quality education. Today we are proud to announce that after weeks of virtual community gatherings as well as meeting with current city education leaders, we are proud to introduce the 2021 Indianapolis cohort of the Surge Academy!

“These Surge Academy leaders will realize and operationalize their power to build systems and movements that bring meaningful change for Indianapolis children,” said Patrick Jones, The Mind Trust’s Senior Vice President of Leadership and Equity. “The Mind Trust is proud to support the Surge Academy experience for these exceptional leaders of color, and we look forward to the ways their fellowship experience will create deeper community, amplify their leadership, and impact our city.”

Learn more about these 16 Black and Latinx leaders and their work below:

Over the next six months, this collective will gather to elevate each other’s work in equity, education and justice to realize a future where the city’s children, families and communities of color can thrive and succeed. White supremacy culture continues to be rooted deeply within education policies and youth-serving practices, which have only been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. And though such shifts will not happen overnight, we know the movement-makers of the 2021 Indianapolis cohort will continue to unapologetically plant and nourish the seeds of change for a just and free tomorrow. Noemí Cortés, Program Director for the Surge Academy, shares what she is looking forward to with our new family members:

“In meeting these brilliant leaders, it is clear to me that there is a hunger in Indianapolis for a movement that will push people in the education ecosystem into a more creative and equitable way of educating youth. These leaders are ready to reimagine their work and I am excited to be on that journey with them; helping to build a space that will allow them to freely and boldly dream about the future of education for our youth and communities in Indianapolis.”

Furthermore, Surge believes that navigating and leading change relies not only on building the necessary executive leadership skills but also knowing the landscape of the city in regards to its Black and Latinx populations. The Surge Academy journey will be dedicated not only to unpacking and deconstructing but also reimagining the systems and practices that have long left the genius within communities of color neglected and uncultivated.

“Surge has created a space where we can focus on personal and professional growth and be agents of change in our communities of Indianapolis,” shared Nicole Montiel, 2021 Surge Academy Fellow and CEO at Anda Spanish. “We need healing. We need disruptive leadership. We need each other. This is an opportunity to build each other up and drive each other to sustainable change for our people. I cannot wait!”

Stay up-to-date with any news and developments of the Surge Institute and The Mind Trust by following us on social media @Surge_Institute, @Academy_Surge and @TheMindTrust respectively.  

August 2020 Katie Boody

LEANLAB Education (Katie Boody, Co-Founder & CEO) announced the first recipients of their $50,000 Micro-Grant Support Fund, which included the impact and work of six Surge Alumni. Learn more about the initiative and each awardee via this article from Startland News.

August 2020 DuJuan Smith

2015 Surge Chicago Alum, DuJuan Smith, has accepted the role of Associate Director of Graduate Advising for The University of Chicago Professional Education. This opportunity will allow him to serve as a GUIDE to those seeking graduate and continuing education to facilitate transformation in their lives!

August 2020 Charles King and Edgar Palacios

2020 Surge Alumni Charles King and Edgar Palacios have been announced as part of the fifth cohort of the Deeper Learning Equity Fellowship, which is made up of sixteen emerging leaders who will dedicate a significant portion of the next two years to addressing issues of educational inequity in their local communities. This cohort joins a group of 58 Equity Fellows already steeped in this important work.

August 2020 Melissa Flores

August 2020

2019 Surge Chicago Alum Melissa Flores has been elected to the Harvard University Graduate School of Education‘s Alumni Council, for which she will be serving for four years.

In addition, she has also been elected as Vice-Chair on the Membership Committee for the Harvard Latino Alumni Alliance. Through her roles, she will support recruitment efforts, serve as an ambassador, and champion diversity for Harvard.

August 2020 Melissa Flores

2019 Surge Chicago Alum Melissa Flores has been elected to the Harvard University Graduate School of Education‘s Alumni Council, for which she will be serving for four years.

In addition, she has also been elected as Vice-Chair on the Membership Committee for the Harvard Latino Alumni Alliance. Through her roles, she will support recruitment efforts, serve as an ambassador, and champion diversity for Harvard.

Welcome the 2021 Surge Oakland Cohort!

“Every human is an artist. The dream of your life is to make beautiful art.”

Don Miguel Ruiz, The Four Agreements

It is incredible to think that over two years ago, the Surge Institute became a national movement with the expansion of the Surge Fellowship to Oakland, California. Over the course, we’ve had the honor of being in community with countless Black, Latinx, and Asian/Pacific-Islander trailblazers in the Bay Area, and now we are excited to announce that 16 leaders of color from across the Oakland and Bay Area education and youth-serving landscape have been selected for the 2021 Oakland Surge Fellowship cohort! To date, Surge Oakland has had the opportunity of working with 37 Surge Fellows, all of whom have since joined Surge’s nationwide alumni network of mission-driven leaders, and we are excited to begin the next transformative chapter of this movement with the 2021 Oakland Surge Fellows:

Elaina Amos; Instructional Teacher Leader, Oakland Unified School District

Xavier Buster; Director, Alumni Engagement, Teach for America

Dana Cilono; Director, CARES for Learning

Omar Currie; Principal, Education for Change Public Schools

Denmark Diaz; Men’s Health & Sexual Violence Prevention Educator, San Francisco State University – Health Promotion and Wellness

Erin Hartfield; Academic Interventionist, Gateway Public Schools

Lauren Horton; Dean of Culture, Lighthouse Community Public Schools

Amaya Noguera; Lead of Afro-Latinx Programming, Latino Equity Project

Adam Quintero; Assistant Principal, Achieve Academy: Education for Change Public Schools

Mirella Ramirez; Teacher on Special Assignment, Instructional Coach, Oakland Unified School District

Leslye Salinas; Business Manager, Roses in Concrete Community School

John Tamrat; College Financial Coach & Partnership Coordinator, Moneythink

Mary Thomas; Program Manager, School Enrollment, SMART

Alicia Torres; Education Director, Felton Institute

Christopher Williams; Assistant Director of Admissions and Outreach Coordinator, Urban School

Brianna Winn; Director of Alder Bay Teacher Residency at Alder Graduate School of Education, Envision Education

Traditionally, the Surge Fellowship has transpired through monthly in-person sessions held at Bay Area-based organization venues focused on generating social impact for the surrounding communities, such as Girls Inc. of Alameda County and the Charles Porter Golden Gate Recreation Center. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, all Surge sessions will be held virtually to ensure the safety of our community, but our gatherings will remain sacred community spaces for building critical leadership skills, collective and personal healing and galvanizing the transformative changes in education that Oakland and Bay Area youth and families of color deserve. Program Director for the Surge Fellowship in Oakland, Yvonne Rodriguez, shares:

“I’m so proud of our 2021 cohort and of all of our applicants this year. Stepping forward during these unsettled times shows their courage and commitment to making sure that they are ready for what comes next. This is a unique moment in history to be starting a fellowship like this one. The 16 Fellows will do the work of understanding the new landscape and the new possibilities that have emerged. They will strengthen their capacity for leadership by engaging and empowering the community to define what’s needed and to drive real change. This is an exciting time for Surge Oakland!”

Surge has always believed that the justice-based shifts this community seeks to generate cannot come to fruition through silos; it takes a village. And over the course of the 2021 Oakland Surge Fellowship, the cohort will center each other’s lived experiences and personal talents to realize the multi-generational impact that each fellow envisions. It is through investing in the genius that already exists in our communities and sharing that with the world that Surge Fellows accelerate forward as authentic, heartfelt champions of their work.

The Surge Fellowship began in Chicago in 2015, with the goal of expanding diversity in the education leadership pipeline, and over the past 5 years, this movement has extended its reach far and wide, activating, elevating, and connecting mission-driven education and youth-serving leaders of color across the nation. 2021 Surge Oakland Fellow Adam Quintero explains what this experience will mean for him:

“The Surge Fellowship is not a typical educational leadership program for many reasons that I admire it for. It is a movement because it empowers leaders of color to rethink and redesign education. Surge does not focus solely on the technical pieces of being a school leader; it puts a tremendous emphasis on mindset and equity. Its mission is to change the face of leadership in urban education, and I am eager to learn how to do that. It excites me that 87% of Surge Alumni report changing policies/ practices and/or creating system-level change, as I do not just want to live in theory. Especially now in a time where we can disconnect from brick and mortar and take a step back to truly reflect on systems that exist and maintain the status quo at schools, I want to be a part of a collective that fosters action. I want to be prepared to dismantle systems of oppression that exist in education,” shared Adam Quintero, Assistant Principal, Achieve Academy: Education for Change Public Schools.

Stay up-to-date with any news and developments of the Surge movement by following us on social media @Surge_Institute and @Surge_Oakland!


August 2020 JuDonne Hemingway

August 2020

2019 Surge Chicago Alum JuDonne Hemingway will be moderating at the 2020 InnoPower Minority Business Conference. She will be a part of a discussion on “Education CEOs: The New Faces of Social Entrepreneurship.”

August 2020 Sonya Mehta

2018 Surge Oakland Alum Sonya Mehta was featured on an episode of on PRI’s The World! She, along with others, spoke with reporter Rupa Shenoy about how they feel as South Asians about Kamala as the Democratic VP pick. Listen to the 6-minute piece HERE.

August 2020 Cristina Marquez

2020 Surge Academy Kansas City Alum, Cristina Marquez, has recently accepted a new role the Founding Social Worker at Kansas City Girls Preparatory Academy.