Vision rooted in belief.
Change rooted in community.

Our Story

The Surge story begins with a woman of color working at the executive level of a school district. Carmita Semaan witnessed first-hand a glaring lack of diversity at the leadership level as well as the direct impact of that disconnect on the predominantly African-American and Latinx students the district served. There, and in many boardrooms since she grew tired of being one of few voices with any shared experience with the students and families we serve.

Carmita benefitted from a strong educational background and success in corporate and nonprofit spaces, which assist her in navigating leadership in education with aplomb. She’d driven systemic changes at local and national levels but too many people – especially those with similar personal backgrounds – fail to gain the access, networks, and opportunities necessary to impact change at that level.

In 2014, Carmita founded the Surge Institute, an education leadership accelerator with a simple but important mission: Educate and develop leaders of color who create transformative change for young people, their families and our broader communities.

The Institute’s signature program, the Surge Fellowship was designed to identify and groom emerging diverse talent and empower them to change the landscape of education by providing them with a unique leadership development experience. We go beyond training. We connect, support and elevate; and we do it all in love and through community.

Since the Fellowship’s launch in April 2015, Surge boasts a family of 230 Surge Alumni nationally and current cohorts of emerging leaders of color in Chicago, Oakland, Kansas City, and Indianapolis. 

“What has been most impactful about Surge is the collective power of the group,” said Dawn Hicks, 2017 Surge Alumna and School Leadership Coach at UChicago Impact. “Society creates a narrative that there is not enough room for all of us at the table and encourages people of color to work against each other. Surge has destroyed that narrative and replaced it with the truth; there is more than enough room for all of us to shine. In fact, working together in love and encouragement and continuing to propel each other is the only way the job of fighting for equity can be done.”

The story of Surge’s success has brought us increased support and influence as we strive toward the ultimate goal of making a positive impact in communities across the country through representative education leadership.


To educate and develop leaders of color who create transformative change for young people, their families and our broader communities.



We are the preeminent pipeline addressing the dearth of leadership of color at the decision-making tables. Surge educates, empowers and energizes leaders of color who will create transformative change in the communities they serve.