2017 Surge Fellows Graduate!


Their moment has come! We proudly announce our 2017 Surge Fellowship graduates…The Guardians!

After a year of empowerment, enlightenment and engagement, the Fellowship ended with a fireside chat with Sylvia Puentes as well as inspiring and deeply impactful lessons from education leaders and friends of Surge, including Dr. Howard Fuller, Dr. Andre Perry, Ernesto Matias and Terra Winston.

In a beautiful closing ceremony, The Guardians and guests heard a poignant speech from Cook County State’s Attorney Kimberly Foxx. Additionally, iMentor’s Chicago Executive Director Halleemah Nash was chosen by her fellow Guardians to deliver closing remarks on behalf of the cohort. Halleemah spoke of the strong foundation Surge provided as well as the importance of pressing collectively onward and upward to impact change. In her smooth and deliberate cadence, Halleemah summed up what she and her fellow Guardians would carry with them: “We are exiting this sacred space with an elevated brand, a greater capacity for advocacy, a deeper self-identity, and the charge to truly live out what it means to be Guardians.”

Also providing a charge to the graduates was 2016 Surge Alum Marilyn Rhames, who shed light on her transformative Surge experience and her subsequent upward trajectory as a voice in education thought leadership. Marilyn spoke of taking her own Teachers Who Pray movement to the next level and attributed her amazing strides to the lessons she learned as a Surge Fellow.

The Guardians are onto the next step — changing systems to drive those improved outcomes —and your support of this movement has helped make it so. Our young people are not simply in good hands with the Guardians; they are in authentic, excellent, and prepared hands, as well.


#LeadTheSurge 6.6.17 Reception

On June 6th, 2017, the Surge community packed Nellcôte for an inspiring night in support of expanding diversity in Chicago’s education leadership pipeline. Among the guests were prospective Surge Fellows, partner organizations, and a broad community of education leaders connected to the Surge movement.

Speakers included Senior Vice President of Community Investment for United Way Jose Rico, 2016 Surge Fellow Khadeejah Lasuc-Lewis, 2017 Surge Fellow Andres Avila, Surge Board Chair Darryl Cobb and Surge Chicago Executive Director Tamara Prather.

Watch the video below to see highlights from the evening!

2017 Surge Cocktail Party

The Surge Alumni Social Committee once again knocked it out of the park, this time bringing together Surge staff, alumni, fellows and supporters for the first annual cocktail party! The party represented a hopeful look to the future, celebrating our largest cohort of fellows, the growing families of our alumni and the exciting upcoming advancements at Surge.

2016 Surge Fellowship Capstone Presentations and Graduation

The 2016 Surge Fellowship concluded the weekend of September 20th. Wrapping up their 10-month Fellowship, the 2016 Surge Fellows—aka The Vanguards—presented their final capstone projects. On Saturday, September 20th, Surge welcomed the Vanguards into the alumni family with a graduation luncheon at McDonald’s Hamburger University. The Vanguards enjoyed a private ceremony with their families, their coaches, and the Surge staff in attendance. The ceremony included a speech by 2016 Fellow Marilyn Rhames, who shared moving reflections about the Fellowship experience, and community leader Juan Salgado‘s address left attendees inspired for change. It was a lovely afternoon!

LeadTheSurge 6.7.16 Reception

On June 7th, 2016 at Nellcôte, over 120 guests and 50 prospective Surge Fellows showed up to support a new pipeline of diverse Chicago education leaders. Over $10,000 was raised for Surge Fellows, and #LeadTheSurge 6.7.16 kicked off the application period for the 2017 Surge Fellowship. Speakers included former Chancellor of DC Public Schools Kaya Henderson, 2016 Surge Fellows Nicole Beechum and Michael Johns, Surge Fellowship Alum Ana Martinez, and Surge founder Carmita Semaan, all of whom moved the crowd.

2015 Graduation and Capstone Project Showcase

On September 26th, 2015, Surge hosted the Graduation Luncheon and Capstone Project Showcase at the Regency O’Hare, to celebrate the 2015 Surge Fellows’ (aka Inaugural Insurgents) transition to Surge Fellowship Alumni. The private ceremony for the Fellows and their families featured a touching photo montage, remarks by DC Public Schools Chancellor Kaya Henderson, and reflections by 2015 Fellow Melissa Connelly.

#LeadTheSurge 7.14.15

Chicago education leaders celebrated the kickoff of the 2016 Surge Fellowship application process with an evening of energy and inspiration at #LeadTheSurge 7.14.15. The event was a refuge from a season of turmoil in local education; attendees left with an understanding of how the Surge Fellowship cultivates leaders in order to transform education in Chicago.




2015 Surge Fellows – Leadership Program Session II

On May 29th, 2015, Surge Fellows convened at the National Museum of Mexican Art in Pilsen, for their second session of leadership programming. A feedback-laden ‘Shark Tank’-style pitch was included, with Surge’s extraordinary ‘Shark’ panel of seasoned leaders: Jose Rico, Kim Foxx, Angelique Power, and Sarah Duncan. The cohort also enjoyed high-impact primers on how to tell compelling stories, and how to create a powerfully authentic personal branding.

2015 Surge Fellows’ Retreat

Former US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan shares an inspiring message with the 2015 Surge Fellows.

Surge Fellowship Kickoff Reception and Information Session

On the evening of March 16th, 2015, Surge Institute supporters, prospective Surge Fellows, and leaders across the education landscape enjoyed the Kickoff Reception and Information Session at Summer House Santa Monica in Chicago.