June Grown from STEM

06/30/2021 5:41 PM | Anonymous

Rebecca BormannDear Members, Sponsors, Volunteers, Supporters, and Friends,

June has been an exciting month for Women & Hi Tech!  We hosted our inaugural Multicultural Celebration, which was also our first in-person event since the onset of the pandemic. We also virtually hosted our second quarter Women & Hi Tech's Executive Women's Forum: Let’s Talk About Your Cyber Hygiene. If you missed the Executive Women's Forum, be sure to watch the recording. And, we hosted our Q2 virtual Book Club discussion about the book Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi!

We have also been celebrating throughout the month that June is Pride month. Women & Hi Tech affirms its commitment to an inclusive, equitable and welcoming environment for everyone. We stand with our LGBTQIA+ community in celebrating historic triumphs and advocating for continued equality for all.  Happy Pride month, everyone!

I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge that Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day, is now a Federal holiday.  Juneteenth commemorates the day June 19, 1865, which is the effective end of slavery in America – this is such a significant day in our country’s history. May we all use this opportunity to learn about the importance of June 19th and celebrate the resilience and contributions of African Americans – past and present – to our country as we strive for continued equality for all.

June also marks the end of the 2021-2022 board term and the welcoming in of the new 2021-2022 board, being led by Linda Hicks, Women & Hi Tech’s new President effective July 1, 2021.

I would like to thank you all for this incredible opportunity to serve as the 2021-2022 President of such an impactful and empowering organization. For over 20 years Women & Hi Tech had been serving the Indiana STEM community and has blazed trails, used our voices, and taken action to make a difference and change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all.  I am honored and humbled to be a part of such an important, worthy, needed, and wanted change! Thank you! 

The 2020 – 2021 board term was an extremely memorable year for Women & Hi Tech in so many ways.  And I am honored to share with you we saw record numbers in program variety and participation, sponsorship, mentorship, membership giving, scholarships and grants awarded and overall community engagement.

  • In July of 2020, the current Board of Directors was unanimously elected, which is the most diverse Board in Women & Hi Tech's history – by age, gender, ethnicity or race, STEM expertise, professional experience, and so much more.
  • We introduced new programs including Women & Hi Tech’s Virtual Quarterly Book Club, led by our current Secretary, Kelly Sandstrom.
  • We hosted our second round of W&HT’s ClickSide Chat series which was created at the onset of stay at home orders. This series serves as a mid-week touch-point for Women & Hi Tech members to connect, engage, and encourage each other via a moderated discussion format hosted by Women & Hi Tech Board Members.
  • We virtually visited colleges and universities around Indiana and spoke to hundreds of girls about working in tech and STEM careers.
  • Women & Hi Tech hosted our first-ever Virtual Leading Light Awards and Scholarship gala in October of 2020. We brought together over 500 registered attendees in our STEM community and awarded over $58,000 of scholarships and grants to 17 women and girls in Indiana who plan to remain in Indiana for their careers.

Beyond this being our first virtual gala, the 2020 LLAs had a lot of other firsts.

  • Notably, we awarded the largest amount of scholarships and grants Women & Hi Tech has provided at one time in our history.
  • We also had the most diverse group of award and scholarship and grants recipients well as the most diverse panel of judges ever.
  • Also new, we honored our Indiana #STEM community with an #INthistogether video tribute for all of the amazing work our STEM community has been doing to overcome challenges created by the pandemic.  And we created the Women & Hi Tech  #INthistogether Scholarship.  This was our first ever member funded scholarship which raised over $3300 for our recipient LaJoi Shelton Robinson. 
  • We also introduced a second new scholarship. 2020 marked the inaugural awarding of the Rare Nickel Scholarship. This $5000 scholarship celebrates the first five women who received Spotlight Awards in 2000. Each year it is awarded, this scholarship will continue their legacy of paving the way for future generations of female STEM leaders in Indiana. The first recipient of this new Rare Nickel Scholarship was Marielle Berin, BS Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University.
  • Last but certainly not least, Women & Hi Tech also introduced and 2 new Leading Light Awards in 2020: the Women & Hi Tech Equity and Inclusion Champion Leading Light Award and the Women & Hi Tech OperationALL Male Allies Award.

Our Inaugural Multicultural Celebration earlier this month was hosted at the beautiful Indiana State Museum Great Hall! It was an amazing evening filled with cultural education, art, music from the live band Chamber Music, festivity, cultural food, dancing and networking. 

Women & Hi Tech Indianapolis Multicultural Celebration Photo CollageOver the past board term, we have also made progress on our 2-year strategy including:

  • New governance policies, including revising and ratifying our bylaws to include our DE&I statement, whichyou can check out on our website. We also created policies including partnership guidelines, code of conduct and conflict of interest.
  • We also went live with our Salesforce.com implementation – to help enable easy tracking, documenting and organized data.
  • We’ve increased the financial acumen, maturity, and security of our organization.
  • I am also honored and delighted to share that we have retired our Volunteer Director role in order to introduce our new role, DE&I Director which is an additional step Women & Hi Tech has taken to ensure the organization continues to focus on diversity, equity and inclusion for all women, in STEM and beyond.

Advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion for all is at the core of Women & Hi Tech. And we are pleased with the positive change to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion that is evident not only within our organization but for so many more Indiana women and girls in STEM because of the impact of our 2020-2021 programming, events, scholarships, grants and awards. We also understand the work for true equity and inclusion for all women and girls in Indiana is far from done. Despite our society’s current challenges, Women & Hi Tech remains committed, strategic, and actionable to further our mission - to make STEM equally inclusive to all – and to serve our members, sponsors, partners, and friends in the Indiana STEM community.

It’s really been an incredible Board term!  And none of this would be possible without our dedicated and passionate, Board of Directors, Sponsors and Members.

I sincerely thank all of our corporate and collegiate sponsors for their continued support and engagement – we appreciate your generosity in helping us continue to advance our mission.

To our members---- Thank you for believing in Women & Hi Tech’s mission and for supporting, encouraging, and cheering one another on!  Thank you for volunteering, mentoring, and being engaged and active members of Women & Hi Tech’s programs. Every day, you support professional women in STEM, collegiate women, and inspire the next generation of K -12 girls to pursue an interest in STEM. 

To the 2020 -2021 Board of Directors and Emeritus members -----Thank you to each of you for your passion, dedication, and fervor to so generously share your time, talents and treasures serving on this Board.  I thank you for all your support, for your creativity, for your ideas, and for being courageous and taking a stand for something so much bigger than ourselves.  Each of you have left your fingerprints all over this organization and Women & Hi Tech is even better because of your contributions.  It has truly been my honor and pleasure to serve with you amazing humans.  I am humbled and proud to call each of you my friend and part of my crew – thank you so very much.  And thank you for making our world a better place, by changing the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all!  Virtual round of applause!!!

2021-2022 Board of Directors and Emeritus members----  I can’t wait to see what you are going to do and how you will continue to advance Women & Hi Tech and serve our members, sponsors, partners, friends and the Indiana STEM community! I look forward to continuing to serve alongside each of you in the Past President role.

In our 29th edition of "Grown from STEM" we are excited to be featuring Women & Hi Tech’s Executive Women’s Forum (EWF) Director, Linda Calvin and our dedicated member, Tosin Ajayi. Both Calvin and Ajayi are highly accomplished in their respective tech disciplines and share how their unique journeys led to their success and passion for tech. Calvin and Ajayi are champions for diversity, equity, and inclusion for all, particularly for women in STEM, in their careers, volunteerism, and personal lives. Please read more about Calvin and Ajayi and how their backgrounds, STEM expertise, and passion for equity and inclusion for girls and female STEM professionals helps fuel their support and involvement in Women & Hi Tech.

As we began in the October 2020 edition of "Grown from STEM," we are delighted to continue to feature one of our 2020 Virtual Leading Light Awards (LLAs) recipients in this newsletter. This month we continue to celebrate and recognize Women & Hi Tech's You Inspire US! Leading Light Award recipient Rupal Thanawala. Rupal’s professional excellence stems from the value and enhancements that she cultivates within the companies and organizations that she serves. Building world-class innovative solutions for customers, positioning digital transformation as a value creator, fostering diverse & inclusive team culture and building a pipeline of future workforce for the tech industry is just a day in the life of Rupal.

Please watch this segment of the 2020 Virtual LLAs to learn more about what fuels Rupal's passion and drive for equality for all in the STEM fields and beyond. Again, Congratulations Rupal!


Rebecca Bormann
Women & Hi Tech President

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