Partnering with clients is exciting because I get to share their problems and help build their solutions. I learn about their part of the education industry, their organizational culture, and their appetite for change. Each client I’ve had is connected to public education, but some are right in schools, and some are using other angles to improve education. The Surge Institute is an agitator for quality and equity, and I’ve been so proud to be involved.
The Surge story begins in 2005, when I met Carmita Vaughan at our Broad Residency orientation. Carmita is from Birmingham, Alabama, and worked in Chicago Public Schools when I worked in Fort Wayne. She’s bright, savvy personally and politically, and the warmest person I’ve ever met. Over lots of drinks over lots of years, we’ve learned and grown and laughed and cried together. She’s a gem.
And her dream is transformative. It will change the field of education, and it should change the country. More than 50% of public school students in America are African-American or Latino. Only about 10% of superintendents or CEOs are African-American or Latino. If you look at the big players in public education, the leaders don’t reflect the student population. She is changing that through developing emerging leaders of color in education through the program she founded, The Surge Institute.
When Carmita shared her dream at the Broad reunion in 2014, I knew she had to go for it. My job was to figure out how I could help her accelerate progress. That started as business planning, and being part of the group that crowdsourced her logo, and then it was selecting fellows for the inaugural cohort, and now it’s helping her qualify the many opportunities that are coming her way.
For most of the last year, I’ve been an advisor to the Surge Institute, a secondary mother hen to our 12 Fellows, and an advocate for changing the conversation about leadership in education. Through Surge, I get to dig into issues of race, class, and equity in education, evaluate my own belief system, and use the experiences I’ve had to help others. I believe this is a critical juncture in the conversation about race and civil rights in America, and what I’m learning now is how to use my voice, my skills, and my ability to push for opportunity for all.