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.

November 2020 Kyra Mungia

2019 Surge Oakland Alum, Kyra Mungia, was featured in Forbes 30 Under 30 2021 in education.

She is the youngest director or deputy director working in the mayor’s office in Oakland, California, and she helped spearhead the Oakland Undivided campaign that raised $13 million to help public school students get 25,000 laptops and reliable internet connections in their homes during the pandemic.

November 2020 Taica Hsu

2019 Surge Oakland Alum, Taica Hsu, was recently selected as part of The Roddenberry Foundation 2021 Fellowship. Launched in 2016, the Roddenberry Fellowship is a $1mil investment in the innovators, community leaders, and change-makers leading the efforts for a more just and equitable country.

November 2020 Derrick M. Fleming, Jr.

Initiated by 2020 Surge Chicago Alum Derrick M. Fleming, Jr., The #JUSTBE campaign. is meant to help dismantle current and historic systemic forms of oppression or indifference, foster anti-racism, eliminate hate, and activate individuals both personally and professionally to choose themselves and love themselves authentically, transparently, and honestly. 

For updates or inquiries about The JUST BE campaign. coming January 2021, visit

November 2020 Melissa Connelly

OneGoal who were selected as a winner of The New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof’s 2020 Holiday Impact Prize. Special shoutout to 2015 Surge Chicago Alum and CEO of OneGoal, Melissa Connelly, for her dedication and authentic leadership in this work!

November 2020 Melissa Connelly

November 2020

2015 Surge Chicago Alum, Candace Moore, was recently featured in Bloomberg Cities’ highlight of 10 innovators who are raising the bar in the fight against COVID-19. 

November 2020

Generation Thrive (Golden State Warriors Community Foundation and Kaiser Permanente Thrive) recently held a workshop titled: United for Black Educators: Building a Pipeline for Representation.

The event was hosted by 2018 Surge Oakland Alum Randal Seriguchi, Jr. from Urban Ed Academy and Chris Chatmon from Kingmakers of Oakland.

November 2020 Garrett Webster

2020 Surge Alum, Garrett Webster Sr., will serve as the Executive Director of Kansas City as Youth Guidance announces the launch of their #BAM and #WOW programs in Missouri in 2021. For more on this expansion, visit 

November 2020 Dominique McKoy

“As college success advocates in this moment, we must consider whether asking our students to persevere more is truly a credible or responsible strategy.”

The team at The University of Chicago To&Through Project published a recent op-ed that summarizes some of the key takeaways from their podcast that focused on how first-generation, low-income (FGLI) college students from CPS are navigating this pandemic and the fight for racial justice. Special shoutout to 2018 Surge Chicago Alum, Dominique McKoy, for his work on this! 

November 2020 Jacqueline Rodriguez

“(Multilingual students) finish high school with such an advantage. Here we have children already with that advantage that we’re telling them that they don’t have.”

Jacqueline Rodriguez, Director of ESOL and Migrant Programs at Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools and 2020 Surge Alum, was recently featured in the ESU Bulletin article titled, Kansas world language programs rife with linguistic discrimination.

November 2020 Ashley Leonard

“Radically reimagining what’s possible in education through relationships will not only prepare middle schoolers to navigate school in the age of coronavirus but all of the challenges this moment in history requires of them as our future leaders.”

Check out this op-ed by Jen Ciok and 2017 Surge Chicago Alum, Ashley Leonard on the importance of relationships for middle grade student success as part of their work with The University of Chicago To&Through Project Middle Grades Network.