Surge Institute Newsletter
Winter, 2015
Table of Contents
Upcoming Events 

Teach for America Summit
The 25th Anniversary Summit will be taking place February 5-7, 2016 in Washington, D.C. Thousands of educators across America will come together to unite for a single purpose: ensure all children in our lifetime will have access to a great education. There are over 100 sessions for attendees to sit in on through the three day event. Register for the summit now!

The Surge Institute is on Amazon Smile
Amazon Smile Logo
Just in time for the holiday season, when you shop online AmazonSmile can donate 0.5% of your eligible purchases to support Surge.  AmazonSmile has the same products, prices, and services as the Amazon you already know - and select to give to charitable organization of your choice! To participate, visit and select The Surge Institute at the "select an organization" prompt.
It is hard to believe that it is already that 'most wonderful time of the year'. We have much to reflect on, celebrate and for which to be thankful. As our inaugural year is winding to a close, Surge Alumni are celebrating expansion of their leadership footprints via promotions, board memberships and community recognition; our first online giving campaign met our ambitious goal thanks to the generosity of individual donors; large foundations continue to show generous support for Surge; and the second Fellowship cohort is fully engaged and immersed in their year of leadership programming. We are blessed. This season our thoughts turn fondly toward those who have made our inaugural year simply amazing. The Surge Team wishes you and yours a season filled with joy and a very prosperous new year!
~Carmita P. Vaughan, Founder and President
Recent News 

2016 Surge Fellows Complete Third Development Session
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Last Friday, 2016 Surge Fellows participated in their third professional development session. This session included sharing of personal leadership stories by several prominent Chicagoans, such as Andrea Saenz, First Deputy Commissioner of the Chicago Public Library and Surge Board Chair Darryl Cobb, Partner at Charter School Growth Fund. The session also included a negotiation role play exercise, facilitated by Kellogg professor, executive advisor and leadership coach Dr. Nicholas Pearce; and a finance session led by DeRonda Williams, IntraLink Global's Chief Financial Officer. The Fellows have seven sessions remaining. 

Successful #GivingTuesday and #SurgeForMore Fundraiser
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On #GivingTuesday, December 1, the Surge team kicked off an online fundraising blitz across the country to echo the focus of Black Friday and Cyber Monday. #SurgeForMore invited individual donors to support Surge and share online what inspires them to #SurgeForMore.  
The campaign raised over $26,000, exceeding our goal to raise money for scholarships and Surge Fellowship programming. An anonymous $5,000 matching gift donor was secured before the campaign start and during the campaign, Surge Board Member Nneka Rimmer also provided a $5,000 match propelling us toward our goal!
The Surge Team is thankful for everyone who donated to help us #SurgeForMore this holiday season, especially our Board Members, Fellows, and partners including Deborah McGriff, Alex Hernandez, Becca Bracy-Knight, Senator Kwame Raoul and Congresswoman Robin Kelly.

Surge Fellow Receives National Exposure with Huffington Post
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Marilyn Rhames, education journalist, former teacher, founder of Teachers Who Pray and 2016 Surge Fellow penned a compelling post that was published by Huffington Post on December 10, 2015. "Laquan McDonald and What My Dying Father Told Me About the Chicago Police" is a moving missive that offers an educators perspective on the tragedy of Laquan McDonald murder, and courageously calls for Chicago leadership to step up or move out. Keep up with Marilyn's bi-weekly posts on or @MarilynRhames.

Surge Founder Named 2016 Woman of Influence
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In November, the Chicago Business Journal named the fifty extraordinary women selected for its 2016 Women of Influence Awards. Our very own Carmita Vaughan made the cut. In the early fall, the Journal put out a request for nominations of women in the Chicago area who lead, succeed and most importantly, pay it forward to help future women succeed in business as well. The award is part of a national effort by American City Business Journals to identify our nation's female business leaders.
Carmita, along with the forty nine other honorees, will be celebrated at a luncheon on Thursday, January 21. The luncheon will include a panel led by Mary Johnson, editor of, focused on the importance of mentoring and the honorees' efforts to pay it forward and invest in others.
Featured Fellow 

Article ImageGet to know
Elisa Botello
Director of New School Development, Chicago Public Schools
1.Was education your calling? If so, why? If not, what changed your path?
Education was not my initial calling. After college, I accepted an internship in the Office of the Chief of Staff at Chicago Public Schools. That unexpected opportunity taught me some of my biggest life lessons and helped shape me into the leader that I am today. I now work for the Office of Innovation & Incubation which strives to do their part in providing a high quality educational option to the students of the city of Chicago. I am excited and humbled to be a part of that dynamic and hardworking team. It is an entrepreneurial and innovative space that continues to evolve with the needs of our students and for me finding that balance between innovation and accountability is the ultimate challenge.

2. As an emerging leader with a time machine, what is one piece of leadership advice you would share with your 'childhood self'?
Time is the only thing you don’t get back.

3. What action hero or cartoon character do you most identify with, and why?
The superhero I identifed with most growing up is Rogue from the Marvel Comic Series cartoon X-Men. As a child, Rouge to me was unique, beautiful, strong and the internal issues she faced were real. Rogue’s superpower was her ability to absorb and sometimes remove the memories, physical strength and superpowers of anyone she touched - so she struggled with the reality that she could never touch someone she cares for without hurting them. Rogue ultimately accepts that great responsibilities come with her powers and chooses to use them for good.
Leadership Lighthouse 

The Leadership Lighthouse is a regular Surge newsletter feature that highlights leaders catalyzing transformative change.
Michelle Molitor is this issue's Leadership Lighthouse Keeper.
Michelle Molitor is the Founder and CEO of Fellowship for Race & Equity in Education (FREE). The Fellowship’s mission is to create equitable educational spaces for all students through open and honest dialogue across difference, and collective anti-racist action. Nationally recognized Race & Equity in Education Seminars (REES) were also created under Michelle’s leadership. The seminars attract education organizations from across the country to learn tools and techniques for creating culturally responsive systemic change for our most vulnerable students. The Surge Team had the privilege of participating in REES this fall.

Thank you, Michelle Molitor for championing a national discourse for race and equity, and for reminding us, “The most dangerous conversation about race is the one that we don't have.”
Surge Institute

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