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Carmita Semaan

Carmita Semaan

Advancing Equity Award Winner


Carmita Semaan is Founder and President of The Surge Institute. The Surge Fellowship, the Institute’s signature program, is transforming education by training, supporting, connecting and elevating emerging education leaders of color. Surge strengthens the pipeline of diverse talent and ensures a next wave of leaders that represent the populations that education reform and equity efforts seek to serve.

After starting her career as and engineer and strategist for multiple Fortune 500 companies, corporate america could not contain Carmita’s desire to lead initiatives that benefit youth and transform urban communities – so she blazed a trail within the non-profit sector, primarily in K-12 urban education. Carmita’s commitment to empowering our country’s most under-served young people has led her to over a decade of executive service, driving results for visionary leaders including Alma Powell, Gen. Colin Powell and Arne Duncan, the former US Secretary of Education.

Carmita holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan. She received a 2016 Chicago Business Journal’s Women of Influence Award and was selected as a 2013 Marshall Memorial Fellow by the German Marshall Fund. She was also a 2010 Pahara Aspen Fellow, a 2009 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow, and a 2007 graduate of the Broad Residency in Urban Education.

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