Sharhonda Bossier and Carmita Semaan on Amplifying and Empowering Leaders of Color

Key Points

  • There is a critical difference between mentorship and sponsorship.

  • When you are dealing with status quo systems that have marginalized and underserved communities for so long, they have to be disrupted.

How might we design new school models to better serve all young people? What are the skills, and jobs of tomorrow? IFTF’s Foresight Essentials course is great for those looking to build something new or trying to innovate within their current role. 

On this episode of the Getting Smart Podcast, Shawnee Caruthers is joined by Sharhonda Bossier, CEO of Education Leaders of Color (EdLoC) and Carmita Semaan, Founder of the Surge Institute

EdLoC “supports talented leaders of color in education and related fields to thrive as disruptive and innovative agents of change.”

The Surge Institute is “the preeminent pipeline addressing the dearth of leadership of color at decision-making tables. Surge educates, empowers and energizes leaders of color who will create transformative change in the communities they serve.”

Sharhonda Bossier

Sharhonda Bossier is CEO at Education Leaders of Color (EdLoC), and a committed advocate for children of color who have been denied adequate educational opportunity. She previously served as EdLoC’s deputy director.

EdLoC supports talented leaders of color in education and related fields to thrive as disruptive and innovative agents of change. Under Sharhonda’s leadership, the organization is expanding its scope and focus by strengthening its growing multi-racial coalition and designing holistic solutions to disrupt cycles of generational poverty in the communities EdLoC serves.

Sharhonda started her career in education as a public school teacher. She also brings years of legislative and electoral campaign experience in both volunteer and leadership capacities to her work. Among the variety of her experiences, she launched a multi-state education engagement and advocacy organization to help communities develop the skills and capacity to more effectively engage with policymakers and other decision-makers.

Carmita Semaan

Carmita Semaan is founder and CEO of The Surge Institute. After starting her career as an engineer and strategist for multiple Fortune 500 companies including Procter & Gamble and Danaher, 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 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’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.

Though an adopted Chicagoan after 18 years, Carmita was raised in Birmingham, AL and proudly professes that her hometown made her who she has become. Birmingham’s history has greatly shaped what she feels called to do and the hustle, horsepower and heart she exhibits.


Getting Smart Staff

The Getting Smart Staff believes in learning out loud and always being an advocate for things that we are excited about. As a result, we write a lot. Do you have a story we should cover? Email [email protected]

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