Cassie Williams

“The Fellowship experience has been awesome for me both professionally and personally: Professionally, I have deepened my understanding of both technical and adaptive skills. I have become a stronger, more confident, and more connected leader. Personally, I have come to realize that we each have a unique set of gifts and talents; and we cannot really serve at our highest capacity until we are comfortable being our true selves. I am confident that Surge will be the light for many, many cohorts to come. Together we will significantly and positively impact education in Chicago and beyond.”

LeShonne Segura

“The Surge Fellowship rejuvenated my passion for social justice. By challenging me to think critically about my leadership, the Fellowship empowered me to take more ownership of my development and take greater risks. I’ve learned how to lead as a woman of color and use my background as a catapult. The skills, confidence, and awareness I gained have rapidly influenced my career. I am grateful for my Surge experience and inspired by my cohort members. We, as a part of the movement, are going to change the world.”

DuJuan Smith

“My Surge Fellowship has been an amazing journey!  I have learned so much about myself, my cohort members, and about the educational landscape in the United States. The lessons ranged from change management to effective negotiation skills, but the greatest takeaway for me is always leading as your authentic self. There is much work to be done if we are to make education equitable for all; however, I feel confident in the capstone projects geared towards addressing solutions that each of us envisions.”

Khair Sadrud-Din

“The Surge Institute Fellowship has immensely impacted my leadership. It has taught me the importance of intentionality, self-reflection, and active listening. I have already found these skills to be useful in my toolkit as I continue to develop my leadership style and vision for the future. Above all, the process has inspired me to access the levers of change and challenged me to bring light into dark places. I am ready to go forth and ‘do good’ for my community.”

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.”

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!”