Terrence Pruitt

“The Surge Fellowship is doing that Fannie Lou Hamer and Ella Josephine Baker work – empowering a generation of leaders with the tools necessary to change the education system, thereby providing students with the footing needed to uplift communities, reconstitute or dismantle systems of oppression, and establish LEGACY. My mission is to equip our youth of the diaspora, whether they identify as Latinx, African, or African-American, with the transferable skills necessary to build communities. I am aligned with the Surge Fellowship, and I am excited about the educator that I will be on the other side of my time in the fellowship. I know that I will be challenged to become the greatest version of my personal and professional self, ensuring that I will be best equipped to support the youth, families, and educators I serve.”

Terrence Pruitt is the Co-Founder & Principal Consultant of Project Restore Initiative LLC.

Aimee Rodriguez

“I am inspired to work in education due to my experiences growing up in an immigrant household. While I began my education by learning English at CPS, my hard work and determination paid off with access to invaluable educational opportunities that led me to where I am today. Because education was the key to my better future, I believe that all students, given the right set of academic, behavioral, and mental health supports, can succeed in school. These beliefs have driven my long-standing commitment to improving public education in my hometown of Chicago. After advocating on behalf of students with emotional disabilities as a special education attorney, I now work to create trauma-sensitive school environments at CPS. It is at this critical career juncture, having shifted from creating student-level change to school-level change, that I need the help of Surge to further develop into a district-wide education leader.”

Aimee Rodriguez is a Project Manager at Chicago Public Schools.

Steven Rosado

“Surge is important to me because we are living in a critical and transformative moment in history. Communities of color are under attack, and the progress we have made to fight against the injustice of inequities in education is being actively torn apart by legalized white supremacy. Being part of Surge means participating in organized and intentional resistance to the legalized racism that seeks to reverse our progress as a collective.”

Steven Rosado is the Director of Strategy and Engagement at the Praxis Institute Chicago.

Ernesto Saldivar Jr.

“By leveraging the power of inclusivity, the Surge Fellows (La Colectiva) are provided with the opportunity to be leaders amongst equals and actively participate in authentic collaborative opportunities where individual perspectives and insights are indispensable to community advancement. I strive to be a part of this community that reflects on the intersectionality of those experiences and engages in the comprehensive planning, analysis, and implementation of programs essential to the empowerment of our communities. My goal is to be a steward of change dedicated to transforming educational systems so that students can self-actualize and see themselves as intelligent human beings.”

Ernesto Saldivar, Jr. is the Director of Language Acquisition and Literacy at Bloom Township High School District 206.

Nina Smith

“Being part of the Surge Institute would help me to become more confident in my leadership skills and more willing to take on challenges such as seeking out larger-scale collaborations with educational agencies to effect positive change. The skills, network, and self-awareness I gain through the Surge Institute will prepare me to one day take on a higher-level leadership position in education, allowing me to serve as an informed and invested leader mentioned above.”

Nina Smith is the Executive Director at LEAP (Language Empowers All People).

Jacare Thomas

“Leaders that I feel have been most successful have kept students at the center of all that they do and have been brave enough to allow themselves to be led. For me, those are the most important attributes of educational leadership. One can easily slip into the trap of being guided by our own egos and feeling the need to prove our intelligence, but it really is not about us. We are all intelligent. We have the great pleasure of working on behalf of all children so that they might reach their full potential and realize their purpose. My vision for leadership in education is that we all keep that at the forefront of our minds and make decisions on behalf of children. Surge provides educational leaders with an opportunity to hold each other accountable to these pertinent values.”

Jacare Thomas is the Chief of Growth and Innovation at Umoja Student Development Corporation.

Myra Winding

“I chose to be part of Surge to achieve my desired outcome of equity among people of color and to have the opportunity to have a positive impact on those lives. Throughout my career in education, I have been fortunate to be able to contribute to the growth and wellbeing of our city’s young people through the variety of roles I have held. As a Surge Fellow, I hope to be able to continue my advocacy on behalf of young people’s education and additionally, to utilize the new skills and networks I develop through Surge to extend the scope and reach of my influence on our students’ educational outcomes and achievements. By combining my personal and professional experiences with the knowledge, skills, and networks developed through the Surge Fellowship, I hope to become an even more powerful voice and advocate for my community and others in need.”

Myra Winding is a Special Projects Manager at Chicago Public Schools.

Lydia Mercer

“Just as important as dismantling and reconstructing current systems and oppressive institutional forces, there is “work” we, as people of color, must do internally. I believe this is the starting point to truly make a greater impact in society. Even as an adult, I struggle with self-worth and confidence, choosing to doubt and believe the internalized and oppressive voices rather than to lean into my greatness. I know I am not making the educational impact that I should be making. I need help. Surge is the catalyst to help me do “the internal work,” and to help me find my power, as I continue to fight for system changes/equity…and as I fight for myself. Choosing Surge means choosing me.”

Lydia Mercer is the Founder of (Un)Learning Space.

Jordan Owens

“I want to be a part of the Surge Fellowship movement because I wholeheartedly believe in the power of collective work and the power of like-minded individuals to affect significant change. I believe that it is important for our African-American and Latinx youth to see leaders who look like them, working together and fighting for educational access and advancement in order to cultivate strong leaders and even stronger communities.”

Jordan Owens is the Director of Special Education – Downtown Campus at Intrinsic Schools.

JuDonne Hemingway

“As a member of the 2019 Chicago Surge cohort, I believe that I will be pushed and affirmed by like-minded leaders who all aspire to change the educational outcomes for students of color in Chicago. I firmly believe that the broad professional and lived experiences of cohort members will be a springboard for ingenuity and entrepreneurial innovation.

JuDonne Hemingway is the Principal of Gary Comer Middle School with the Noble Network of Charter Schools