Stephanie Arias

“When I applied to Surge, I was in search of tools, community, and a how-to for becoming more inventive and impactful in my work. I was given those tools and that space to learn to embrace my authentic voice, but most significantly, I was invited into a lifelong learning community that celebrates remaining grounded in our narratives, elevates opportunities to pursue intersectional advocacy efforts, and loves one another fiercely. We’re on a mission to do good AND to do well, and I believe my (future, non-existent, beautiful!) children are better off for having Surge Alumni as their advocates and pioneers.”

Andres Avila

“Surge has transformed my personal and professional life for the better! I now walk and talk with a level of confidence and deeper understanding of my strengths than ever before. I also know that I now walk among giants that will always have my back and I theirs.”

Andrea Black Evans

“Surge enables me to see the possibility beyond my position.  Surge encouraged me to connect in order to conquer fear and collaborate for the success of all black and brown scholars. Surge inspired me to lead authentically and let my light guide the work, people, and scholars I love. Surge quenched my thirst for excellence and I am eternally grateful.”

Julianne Boulware

“Going into the Surge Fellowship, I expected to emerge with a set of executive skills that would usher me into the next level of leadership. While those hard skills were developed, something less tangible and more important was instilled in me: power. Surge enables you to not only know the landscape, but to look inward to uncover and elevate the leader who has always been inside of you.”

Jonathan Chaparro

“Through the Surge Fellowship, I gained increased confidence in my identity and abilities as a leader along with clarity of purpose. I was able to further develop the executive skills necessary to increase my impact and to move the goals of my organization forward in order to play a broader role in closing the opportunity gap in Chicago’s most promising neighborhoods.”

William Collins

“One of the first things that come to mind about my Surge experience is my inability to intellectualize what was a transformative and spiritual experience. I entered the Fellowship thinking that I would surely sharpen my executive skills and broaden my network so that I could be ready for a “seat at the table” on behalf of our babies.  What I didn’t know was that I would experience a shift in my soul. From the leaders that entered our space to share their unfiltered knowledge and wisdom to the deep connections I made with my Surge sisters and brothers, I am forever changed and ready to illuminate every space that I sit in with truth, authenticity, vulnerability, and power. Surge will forever be part of my life and I will forever be a champion of the movement.”

Dominique Myles

“Surge has proven to me that authenticity and professionalism are not mutually exclusive characteristics in leadership. As a black woman working to influence institutions of higher education I am uniquely positioned to advocate for our black and brown babies because of my entire story. Surge has highlighted the transformative influence we can all have if we learn not to check the most valuable parts of our stories at the door. I am more courageous, inspired and equipped to walk in my purpose as a leader.”

Cesar Dominguez

“More than anything, Surge has instilled a belief that I belong. It’s instilled a confidence in me that I lacked. Often times, given my upbringing, I lacked confidence when I found myself in professional settings. I simply did not feel worthy of being in the same space as many of the very bright and innovative people I’ve had the pleasure to work with. Through the fellowship, however, I came to understand that feeling like this is all too common for people of color. And a large part of the experience was shaking off these feelings and learning to take command of the spaces we occupy. The many kids our organizations serve deserve nothing less.”

Mario Estrada

“My experience with Surge has fortified my belief that ‘community’ is a powerful source of strength and wisdom. As I reflect on my future in education, I appreciate that my potential for impact magnifies when contributing to the many ongoing efforts led by my Surge brothers and sisters. Similarly, my own work’s impact accelerates when I call upon the diverse perspectives and talents my Surge community offers. Simply put, Surge transcends any one individual. We are collectively organized, focused, and mission-driven.”


Alejandro Espinoza Olazaba

“On this side of the fellowship, I know better and commit to do better. The Surge Fellowship is a commencement to a new leadership that I am capable of modeling. I know I am capable of operating with a greater sense of peace and efficacy. I know that I can lead anytime, anywhere. That my title, nor position of authority, defines my leadership as much as the beliefs and behaviors I carry. I know that leadership starts with me, and if I uncover and communicate my purpose clearly to myself and others, my work can become meaningful.  And most importantly, I know that if I forget to act upon any of these lessons, my Surge family will be there to remind me of my capacity and commitment to lead.”