Nche Onyema

“Through the Surge Fellowship, I’ve come to understand my worth and value and now have the power and the tools to settle for nothing less than greatness. I’m ready to jump in with both feet as an Alumna and be a game-changer and an unstoppable force for our students.”

Grisel Maldonado

Grisel Maldonado is the Director of College Success at UChicago Impact at the Urban Education Institute (UEI). Maldonado oversees 6to16, UChicago Impact’s college success curriculum, and leads the development and implementation of The Success Project, a Chicago Public Schools-based pilot. The Success Project leverages work by the University of Chicago Consortium on Chicago School Research.

Maldonado was formerly the Director of College Counseling for the Noble Network of Charter Schools where she developed the college counseling department and senior college seminar course at UIC College Prep. She earned her BA in History and Hispanic Studies from Brown University in Providence, RI and served as an admissions officer at Brown before returning to Chicago.

Maldonado was born and raised in Chicago’s Pilsen neighborhood.

Ana Martinez

“There are experiences in life that have the power to shape our forever, and Surge is one of those for me.  I’ve spent my entire life and professional career noticing the discrepancies that exist in our society and how rarely I get to meet other people who look like me, share similar experiences, and have an intense passion for “paying it forward”.  Surge es mi familia – and I am forever grateful for the opportunity to have made life long relationships and for the challenge to keep rising in order to empower other people of color (especially women of color).  I will disrupt the status quo!”

Stacey D. Mitchell

“The Surge Fellowship has been an important part of my development as a leader who shares the backgrounds of our students and who are fighting for their education. It has exponentially expanded my network, which in turn has made it possible to more efficiently and collaboratively expand educational opportunity for students. Additionally, this experience has equipped me with concrete skills that are essential for enterprise leadership.

Candace Moore

“The Surge Fellowship has been a transformative opportunity for me. It has been an investment not simply into what I do, but who I am. Through Surge, I am part of community of dynamic professionals who come to the work of education fully invested in creating a fair and equitable system. This work is personal to us and together we have challenged one another to look beyond the existing limitations and fight for the future that our kids deserve.  Surge pushes us all beyond diversity and toward true equity where I am proud to #LeadTheSurge!”

Angela Brizant


“The Surge Fellowship challenged and empowered me to bring my whole self to my work. The myriad of experiences that constitute who I am make me a stronger leader, a resilient leader, and an authentic leader. The insights I’ve gained, combined with the ideas of other great leaders, will help us solve the critical problems that plague our school systems. The Surge Fellowship has reinforced the fact that we are not purple unicorns. There are other like-minded people who exist in our country and world. The beauty of Surge is that it connects us. I could not be more grateful for my Surge family.”

Khadeejah Lasuc-Lewis

“The Surge Fellowship was an absolute game changer for me personally and professionally. I have grown greatly in my executive skills and presence, and am much more aware of the issues effecting the educational landscape. I have been held to standards I did not know existed and now know the power and greatness I hold.”

Ariel Johnson

“Surge has reignited my dedication to education through the lens of a Black woman from the south of Chicago. It has affirmed that my perspective is not just useless fodder in the broader politics of education, but essential to the interplay between those making the decisions and those affected by those decisions. I now understand that my presence in a room is not enough without a microphone to speak. I am called and required to push my superiors and my colleagues to do better for the people that they serve.”

Michael Johns

“The Surge Fellowship has been an outstanding experience! It has truly enriched my leadership competencies. Whether reading an impactful article or having engaging dialog, Surge has reinforced the notion of walking in my excellence and leading with my strengths. I will always be grateful for my Surge experience.”

Adria Husband

“My Surge Fellowship experience has truly been life changing. It is easy to feel like an island in professional spheres where there are few individuals who share your passion, face the same challenges you have, or share a similar vision. Surge has enabled me to plug into an amazing network of energy, tenacity, vision, intellectual capital, heart, and soul. I no longer feel isolated, and now I am fueled by knowing I have a whole team of my own cohort sisters and brothers, along with my Surge family, and then my extended Surge family – all rooting for my success in this work!”