Surge

Building a Pipeline of Diverse Educational Leaders

Irvin Leon Scott and Joiselle Cunningham
PDF, 2019, 21 Pages
Case: HTL-01-SURG
Price: $7.95

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Permission to Reprint, 21 Pages
Case: HTL-01-SURG
Price: $4.95

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Black and Latinx leaders within the American education sector remain underrepresented when considering the growing numbers of Black and Latinx students enrolled in U.S. public schools. This case describes the development and early growth of Surge, a program designed to bridge that gap by accelerating the career trajectories of promising leaders of color in education.

The case begins by tracing Surge founder Carmita Semaan’s personal journey to leadership in the private sector and then in Chicago Public Schools. Drawing from data and her own experience, Semaan set out to create an organization that would “dramatically change the face of leadership in education reform by preparing, connecting, and supporting” emerging leaders of color. Despite initial setbacks, Semaan launched the inaugural Surge Fellowship, a cohort-based experience with monthly seminars and personalized coaching, in Chicago in 2015. By 2019, when the case takes place, the program had expanded to serve fellows in Oakland and Kansas City, had grown to 20 staff members, and was celebrating the results of its first alumni survey, which indicated a significant impact on the career trajectories and leadership competencies of its participants. At the same time, a growing body of outside research was calling attention to the favorable impact of diversity on group performance. As she planned for the next phase of Surge’s growth and fielded inquiries from leaders across the country interested in bringing Surge to their regions, Semaan weighed a few options. The case concludes with a series of questions at the intersection of organizational change, nonprofit leadership, identity, and entrepreneurship.

Subjects: Leadership, Nonprofits, Diversity, Entrepreneurship, Human Capital, Leaders of Color, Professional Development, DEI

If you are interested in receiving the teaching note for this case, contact hepg@harvard.edu.

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