Jermaine Wilson

Jermaine Wilson is the Executive Director of Student Support Services at DeSoto Independent School District.

“As a Surge Fellow, I hope to increase my leadership capacity to challenge the status quo while connecting with other leaders to contend with issues on the educational landscape that are rooted in socio-historical oppressive narratives and beliefs to help our students to reach the pinnacle of their academic success. Furthermore, I seek to broaden my knowledge base and skills to create powerful change in the system and I am positive that the networks and coaching in the Surge Academy will help me to not only join the movement but help others to catch fire as well. More than ever, we need courageous leaders that will push the conversation and actions further to ensure that African-American and Latinx youth are given a rigorous education that will help them to navigate the waters of life successfully.”

Garrett Webster

Garrett Webster is the Executive Director of Youth Guidance Kansas City.

“The Surge movement is larger than the sum of its individual parts. My hope is that being a part of Surge will equip me with the tools I need to truly help my people. In addition, I believe Surge will help me to align with like-minded allies in the movement to help free and empower our people.”

Catina Taylor

Catina Taylor is the Founder of Dreams Consulting.

“Surge means an opportunity to be self-reflective. It will afford me the opportunity to look at the impact that a white supremacist system has had on me as an education professional & individual and how I perpetuate the very things that I find oppressive. I hope to continue my healing journey & support the healing of others through the fellowship experience. In addition to those things, it is my hope that I further develop myself as not just an educational leader but a community leader with the requisite skills needed and necessary to reshape the communities in which I operate; that I see myself capable and confident enough to engage with those I perceive as perhaps more intelligent or in greater positions of authority than I currently find myself.”

Jacqueline Rodriguez

Jacqueline Rodriguez is the Director of ESOL and Migrant Programs at Kansas City, Kansas Public Schools.

“The Surge Fellowship is an opportunity for me to expand my leadership with like-minded individuals. It provides me an experience that will differ from my academic experiences because of the focus on diversity.”

Kim Riley

Kim Riley is the Founder and Executive Director of The Transition Academy.

“Surge is committed to lifting up and strengthening education professionals of color for the purpose of transforming schools and equipping students for success. This commitment also extends to students of color with disabilities who were born in a world that was not designed with them in mind. I want to leverage the Surge Academy experience and network to help me develop into the most authentic and effective leader possible. I’ve been advocating as a parent advocate for decades. I now need to make a collective impact and the executive coaching and expansive networking opportunities that Surge Academy provides are exactly what I need at this critical juncture. This movement is long overdue. And I can’t wait to be part of it – a community grounded in authenticity, rooted in tenacity and committed to courageous service for the purpose of educating and elevating our children.”

Jahna Riley

Jahna Riley is the Founder of Aya Coffee and Books.

“I think people of color – specifically those fighting for the lives of our children – have been beaten up by the institutions we work for. We all need some healing to liberate ourselves and be a part of liberating our communities. After speaking with Surge Alumni and researching for myself, I’m excited to become a part of a program that will contribute to the healing that I desperately need – not just for myself and my family, but for the families I work with and my hometown, Kansas City. Participating in the Surge Academy will help me not only to develop the confidence but the background knowledge and vocabulary to speak truth to power in every room that I enter. It will also help me to develop the skills to think strategically about how to bring in the voices of my brothers and sisters to make an impact.”

Cescily Phillips

Cescily Phillips is the Dean of Students at Ewing Marion Kauffman School.

“Surge is a movement! Something amazing about movements is that they are not just for those actively working within them. Surge’s movement works on behalf of our amazing, talented young people who aren’t always able to fight on their own behalf. And while movements do not create change overnight, they plant seeds and build power that transcends generations. I want to be a part of the movement that is on a mission to build the education system our kids deserve.”

David Muhammad

David Muhammad is the Executive Director and Head Youth Instructor at Integrity Martial Arts Academy.

“I’ve been craving an environment that will challenge me to work through my shortcomings. I recognize that my professional experience thus far has primarily been in comfortable environments. However, I realize that to achieve my goals, I need to be pushed outside my comfort zone in a nurturing setting. Surge provides the ‘Ubuntu’ environment to push me past my personal barriers and into my true potential.”

Ajia Morris

Ajia Morris is the Founder & CEO of The Greenline Initiative.

“Realizing how pervasive institutional oppression is has compelled me to be an educational leader and now, as a Surge Fellow, I will be significantly more prepared to advocate on behalf of students in my community. Every major metropolitan city I have lived in (Compton, Los Angeles, St. Louis, Kansas City) has had subpar public educational options for socioeconomically disadvantaged students. As an adult, I realize this is by design. As a child, I was fortunate to have a parent who valued education and sacrificed at every turn to ensure my success and access to the best educational options available. Not every child is as fortunate, but I believe all children should have access to high-quality education. Most of my childhood friends have many different outcomes than I do. I maintain the biggest difference was high-quality education and parental advocacy.”

Eduardo Mendez

Eduardo Mendez is the Director of Student Services at the Guadalupe Centers School.

“While the achievement gap between Latino and African-Americans compared to white children has been well documented over the years, what has been less noted is the equity or opportunity gap that exists among these groups. Part of what I hope to gain through the Surge professional development, case discussions, research, and projects is a better understanding of how educational outcomes are impacted by the disparities and patterns of educational inequities in the United States that are formed around race, class, and ethnicity. Through the Surge Academy, I intend to use the knowledge, skills, and network to become a leader for equity by examining the factors that contribute to structural inequities and advocate for policies that increase access to economic, educational, and political opportunity. This means actively engaging others in efforts to change or create new structures that will increase educational equity within schools and across communities.”