Deborah Pollack-Milgate has practiced intellectual property law with Barnes & Thornburg for almost twenty years. “I consider intellectual property to be at the core of all of STEM. If you haven’t preserved your intellectual resources, it can be the make or break of an organization.” Pollack-Milgate is also committed to helping women advance in their fields, including in her chosen field.“ Many women as employees are concerned with protecting intellectual property at a high level. But even at the ground level, many women are inventors themselves. They deserve their creations to be protected on their behalf.”
While Pollack-Milgate learned about Women & Hi Tech through its long-standing partnership with Barnes & Thornburg, she joined because she saw the value for all women in STEM. “It’s incredibly fun to see and hear what everyone is out there doing. Before Women & Hi Tech, the Indiana organizations for women in STEM were specific to certain professions, like engineers or chemists. But we face shared problems across our industries,” she pointed out. “Even in law, the same issues come up. This organization is a place where women feel supported in overcoming barriers, aside from the industry-specific challenges.”
Her enthusiasm and volunteer support led to Pollack-Milgate being invited to become a board member, specifically focused on planning the Executive Women’s Forums. She held this role for three years. “The Executive Women’s Forums have always been at the core of Women & Hi Tech is. I was very mindful in making sure we continued to have creative and solid content. I’m proud of my leadership in that role.” The board then invited Deborah to become President, which she accepted, assuming the role in July 2013. “My goals were to deliver growth and diversify our appeal even further. We were starting to have greater financial resources, so I put forward the idea of the scholarship program, which we then adopted.” During her tenure, Women & Hi Tech also launched the Passport to High Tech event for girls, in partnership with Conner Prairie. She is also proud of having led the board to revise the categories for the Leading Light Awards, broadening them to allow more women to be nominated and recognized.
After her time as President, Deborah remained on the board for another year to continue planning the Executive Women’s Forums. “By developing our reputation for top-level content, we have been able to expand our membership and include women from more professions and backgrounds than ever,” she said. “As Women & Hi Tech grows, I hope we continue to explore concrete and tangible ways to propel women in STEM forward in Indiana.”
"There are a lot of challenges out there. Women & Hi Tech can help women in Indiana actually break the glass ceiling versus just talking about doing it".
Deborah is confident Women & Hi Tech will positively influence women in STEM because of the strength and brilliance of the community that supports its success. “It used to be that women in STEM may have felt they had to stay among males to connect with peers. But now we are finding and supporting each other, and we know we can succeed in STEM fields in Indiana. For twenty years, Women & Hi Tech has been at the center of that amazing shift. I hope I have left this incredible organization better than I found it, and I know it has left me a better person than I was before I joined.”
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