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.”

TaMikka Sykes

“Before Surge I focused on executing someone else’s vision for change; now I am shifting to developing my own solutions to problems I encounter as a practitioner. The Surge Fellowship challenged my own thoughts about how to bring the change we need to see.”

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.”

Marilyn Rhames

“Surge has had a profound impact on my professional development, highlighting the value of my perspective as a Black female educator in the mostly white, privileged education reform world. I now have a keener sense of racial injustice and inequity, which has made me all the more passionate about staying in the fight to reverse it.”

Bianca Paiz

“The Surge Fellowship provided me with a perspective of success I had not yet dreamed of as a person of color working in education. As an applicant I wanted to gain the skills to better provide for my community. As an alumnus, I experienced what could be for me and for my community. I gained a collective strength I didn’t know I needed and didn’t know existed. Surge brought us all together.”

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!”