Title and Organization:
Carmita Semaan is the President and Founder of the Surge Institute. Carmita’s expertise is supporting and elevating the genius of emerging and seasoned leaders - particularly women and people of color - and shining a light on the brilliance and ingenuity that is too often overlooked and untapped in solving systemic issues. Her guiding principle is the connection of head, heart, and soul in leadership to drive sustainable impact and lasting partnerships.
Semaan’s career started in corporate America; however corporate could not contain her desire to lead high-impact initiatives that benefit urban youth and transform urban communities - so she blazed a trail within the nonprofit sector, primarily in K-12 urban education. Carmita’s commitment to empowering our country’s most underserved young people by providing them with pathways to excellence through education and holistic supports led her to a decade of executive service, driving results for visionary leaders including Alma Powell, Gen. Colin Powell, and Arne Duncan, former US Secretary of Education.
Though an adopted Chicagoan after 15+ years, Carmita was raised in Birmingham, AL. Birmingham’s history and legacy have greatly shaped who she is and what she feels called to do - to elevate the genius that lives within communities and shine a light on the brilliance and ingenuity that is too often overlooked and untapped in solving systemic issues. Carmita holds an MBA from Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, and a BS in Chemical Engineering from the University of Michigan. Her accolades include: 2016 Chicago Business Journal’s Women of Influence Award, 2013 Marshall Memorial Fellow by the German Marshall Fund, 2010 Pahara Aspen Fellow, 2009 Leadership Greater Chicago Fellow, and graduate of the Broad Residency.