• 07/28/2020 7:00 AM | Anonymous

    Poonam Gill started out in STEM thinking that if she could just get to a playing field at a high-enough level, there would be women there with her. After graduating from Purdue as an electrical engineer in 2003, she was hired by a global manufacturer out of Chicago. But there were still very few women in the room. After being surprised for a little bit, Gill took action. “After about a year I approached my manager about ‘Introduce a girl to engineering day.’” They liked this idea and told Gill to run with it. Gill explained, “we partnered with local schools to show middle and high school girls about innovation in engineering.”

    As Gill puts it, “With that, my spark was lit.” After five years she began teaching children ages 4-14 about engineering concepts and problem-solving skills, and then transitioned into nonprofit leadership. “Having the engineering background lets me use my voice and my experiences to close the widening gender gap in STEM,” said Gill. Shel is currently a graduate student in Learning Design and Technology at Purdue University. She says, “My hope is that my professional and personal goals will bridge a gap between engineering and education.”

    As part of our 20th Anniversary celebration in August 2019, Women & Hi Tech awarded Gill a Nonprofit Executive Leadership professional development grant. “I believe Women & Hi Tech is looking at investing in the next generation of leaders and I’m really grateful,” Poonam said. “I got involved with Women & Hi Tech because I wanted to be part of an organization where I knew their efforts included outreach to introduce young girls to STEM.” Through volunteering with Women & Hi Tech last year, Gill got to lead a group of female middle school students through the Ignite Your Superpower activities and answer their questions about STEM professionals, life, and college experiences.

    As much as these interventions are essential, Gill believes that one-off events don’t close the gap with consistency. Gill further explained, “Women & Hi Tech does a great job of getting equitable opportunities to girls across central Indiana to see role models in STEM and share access to STEM. But in school, if those opportunities aren’t reinforced, it won’t stick.” In partnership with other organizations, such as Women & Hi Tech, Gill is also a member of Every Girl Can STEM who is championing a project to start an all-girls STEM school in Indiana.

    “We can improve engagement for girls in STEM through instructional interventions,” Poonam says with confidence. “We need to focus on encouraging a growth mindset for girls and celebrating hard work and persistence. It’s okay to fail, and that’s also part of the engineering design process. You test and improve over time.”

    Gill explained how even addressing the gender disparity in STEM is a process of learning and experimentation. “Over the last 5-6 years especially, there has been more emphasis on opportunities for women and for more inclusion. But data shows the gender gap persists. That is why everyday messaging to girls in the classroom, versus a few exposure opportunities a year, is so important.”

    Poonam is excited to stay involved with Women & Hi Tech because she knows developing the current and future talent pipeline is a mission she shares with the organization. “If we really want to permanently change the landscape, that includes being focused on building the pipeline of future females in a really thoughtful and strategic way.” As resources like digital conferencing and events make it more possible to bring people together across great distances, Gill sees even more potential for STEM professionals to share knowledge in ways that advance their goals. “We need to build a pipeline for the future and also help women today get to leadership and decision-making roles,” she sums it up. “There’s a lot of work to be done, but we can do it together.”

    LinkedIn Profile

  • 07/19/2020 9:45 AM | Anonymous

    In support of our mission to ensure STEM is equally inclusive to all, Women & Hi Tech was excited to partner with the Indianapolis Professional Association (IPA) to award three book scholarships to local, African American women pursuing STEM at the collegiate level. Along with all 15-20 IPA book scholarship recipients, Women & Hi Tech would like to congratulate the following young ladies who are graduates of the Class of 2020, exceptional examples of academic excellence, and therefore, each was selected as a recipient of a $500 IPA/Women & Hi Tech book scholarship as well as a 1-year free membership to Women & Hi Tech. The book scholarships were awarded to students by Women & Hi Tech Past President, Angela B. Freeman, during IPA’s first virtual event that was held yesterday in lieu of its annual Spring Youth Empowerment and Achievement Awards Breakfast. Congratulations again to Lore, Cicely, and Iyonna for pursuing your STEM career aspirations! Women & Hi Tech is excited to support you!

    Lore Akinola Afolabi
    Crispus Attucks High School graduate, pursuing a career as a General Surgeon at Marian University.

    Cicely Miller
    North Central High School graduate, attending Xavier University in Louisiana to pursue a career as an OB/GYN.


    Iyonna Evans
    Arsenal Tech High School graduate, pursuing biology and forensics at Indiana State University in Terre Haute.

    IPA was founded in October, 1984 by six far-sighted attorneys and a judge who were members of the Marion County Bar Association, a legal professional organization, comprised of mostly African American attorneys. IPA’s mission is, To promote and develop the education and economy of African Americans and to encourage others to do so To be a network for African Americans to gather and to discuss and exchange ideas To afford assistance and training to African Americans and others in various professions, businesses and occupations To act as role models and mentors for African-Americans and others throughout the community. 

    To learn more about IPA, please visit

  • 07/01/2020 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    Indianapolis, IN (July 1, 2020)–Women & Hi Tech is pleased to announce the Board of Directors for the term that commenced on July 1, 2020.

    Elected Officers of the Women & Hi Tech Board of Directors:

    • President: Rebecca Bormann, Managing Director of Sales and Services, Bell Techlogix, Inc.
    • President-Elect: Linda Hicks, Vice President of Midwest Operations for ECC Horizon
    • Treasurer: Ben Phillips, Director, Katz, Sapper & Miller
    • Secretary: Kelly Ragle, Manager, Project Management Office, Lev

    Elected Directors of the Women & Hi Tech Board of Directors:

    • Collegiate Outreach Director: Merri Beth Lavagnino, Executive Director, Compliance & Privacy, Indiana University Health Plan
    • Communications Director: Lori Boyer, Software Engineer, Barnes & Thornburg LLP
    • Community Outreach Director: Allison Lipps, Research Operations Coordinator, Indiana Hemophilia & Thrombosis Center, Inc.
    • Corporate Engagement Director: Joy Neely, Central Area, Regional Business Manager, Roche Diagnostic Information Solutions
    • Executive Women's Forum Director: Linda Calvin, Vice President, School of IT at Ivy Tech Community College
    • K-12 Outreach Director: Crystal Morton, Associate Professor of Mathematics Education, Indiana University School of Education - Indianapolis
    • Leading Light Awards Director: Lauryn Andrews, Consultant, netlogx
    • Membership Administrator: Carol Ganz, Director of Client Experiences, Six Feet Up, Inc.
    • Networking Events Director: Maria Alvim-Gaston Ph.D., Advisor – MIH Talent Development Academy Medicines Innovation Hub, Eli Lilly and Company
    • Past President: Angela B. Freeman, Intellectual Property/Patent Attorney, Barnes & Thornburg LLP
    • Volunteer Director: Karen Harris, Vice President & Information Officer Manufacturing and Quality, Eli Lilly and Company

    Elected Active Emeritus of the Women & Hi Tech Board of Directors:

    Elected Emeritus of the Women & Hi Tech Board of Directors:
    • Jo Basey, Retired, Kelley School of Business, Indiana University Angie Engel, Sales Executive, Perficient
    • Gail Farnsley, VP, Executive Partner, Gartner
    • Deb Hallberg, CEO, Pass the Torch for Women Foundation
    • Tonya Hanshew, Proposal Management Team Lead - OLS, Veeva Systems
    • Rajinder Heir, Consultant, Electronic Strategies Inc.
    • Ali Hromis, Release Manager, Salesforce
    • Bobbie LaFollette, Senior Business Analyst, Baker Hill
    • Melissa Lavella, Senior Quality Supervisor, Roche Diagnostics
    • Patsy Lentz, Retired Business Development Professional
    • Wendy Maple, Outreach Consultant, netlogx
    • Jane Richardson, Executive Director, IT Strategy and Corporate Strategic Alignment, Cummins Inc.
    • Audrey Taylor, Founder, and CEO, netlogx
    • Tiffany Trusty, President, Trusty Applications and Manager, Mobile Medial Apps, Eli Lilly and Company

    "Women & Hi Tech is excited to welcome three new members to its Board of Directors, including Crystal Morton, Linda Calvin, and Ben Phillips, and to announce Linda Hicks as President-Elect," said Rebecca Bormann, President of Women & Hi Tech.

    Rebecca further commented, "Women & Hi Tech's passionate and committed all-volunteer working Board of Directors, Active Emeritus, and Emeritus members work diligently to promote our mission to recruit, retain, and advance the best and brightest female STEM talent in Indiana. We are excited to welcome Ben, Crystal, and Linda to our voting Board of Directors this year, which will make the most diverse Board we’ve ever had in our over 20 year history. We are pleased that Women & Hi Tech is not just talking about diversity, equity, and inclusion in our community, but demonstrating inclusion in our membership and Board leadership structure. Through continuing our signature Women & Hi Tech programming, as well as executing the goals of our most recent 2-year strategic plan, we are looking forward to the 2020-2021 year to further our mission and serve our members, sponsors, partners, and friends in the Indiana STEM community."

    Rebecca also noted that "this year is the 20th anniversary of Women & Hi Tech's Leading Light Awards and Scholarship Gala (LLAs). One of the ways we are honoring this milestone, while also advancing our mission of equity and inclusion in the STEM fields, is with the introduction of two new Leading Light Awards - the Equity and Inclusion Champion and OperationAllTM Male Allies awards. In addition, we are looking forward to recognizing female STEM leaders, educators, mentors, risk-takers, achievers, innovators, and landscape-changers on October 1, 2020. We are also beyond delighted to award over $50,000 in scholarships and grants to females in Indiana pursuing STEM. Lifting up and supporting our future generations of female STEM leaders, including diverse female leaders, is crucial to advance our mission. We appreciate and thank our sponsors for making these scholarships and grants available, along with our members that have contributed to our #INThisTogether Scholarship, Women & Hi Tech's first-ever member-funded scholarship. Thank you!”

    To view the biographies of Women & Hi Tech's board members, visit the website at

  • 06/29/2020 12:02 PM | Anonymous

    Dear Members, Sponsors, Volunteers, Supporters, and Friends,

    It’s been an absolutely fantastic and fruitful year for Women & Hi Tech!  As my final formal address to you, the membership of Women & Hi Tech, as your President, I’d like to take a moment to discuss what we’ve accomplished as an organization over this last year, and why I am so proud and excited to have had the opportunity to lead this organization at what I now believe to be a pivotal period in our organization’s and our nation’s history.

    First, let’s just address the elephant in the room, it’s officially summer 2020 and beautiful outside, but we’re still having meetings and events via videoconference due to the unprecedented challenges and crises we are currently experiencing in light of COVID-19 and the civil and racial unrest and protests in this country.  Never, in my lifetime, has there been a time when STEM was more important for the literal health, safety, and survival of citizens, businesses, and organizations of this country before now.  The members, sponsors, and supporters of Women & Hi Tech have also been leading the nation in driving innovations related to diseases and infections, such as COVID-19, from our organization’s infancy, and now is no different.  

    But well beyond our technical expertise, the members, sponsors, and supporters of Women & Hi Tech have continued to lead this community and this nation on the larger more global and humanitarian issues, such as systemic racism, unconscious and conscious biases, inequities, disparities, and prejudices against diverse people in this country, like women.  As an African-American woman, it is not lost on me that diversity, equity, and inclusion “of all” includes civil and equal rights for people of color, our Dreamers, as well as our LGBTQ+ members, which was just confirmed by our U.S. Supreme Court in a decision issued this June pride month.  Diversity, equity, and inclusion “of all” is necessary for everyone to have a fair opportunity to “live their best lives,” and provide their authentic and unique contributions to the excellence fostered by this great country.

    I am just so proud of this organization, whose leadership and membership recognized years ago, that gender and racial disparities and inequities are absolutely real, particularly in STEM.  And, we made it our mission to do something about it.  Before every company in America just made it their mission to issue a solidarity, equality, or “Black Lives Matter” statement, Women & Hi Tech changed its whole mission statement three years ago to specifically state that STEM in Indiana must be “equally inclusive to all.”  The Board confirmed this mission statement in a recent 2-year strategic planning meeting, and more importantly, we’ve been putting action behind it for years, but particularly this past year.

    From volunteering at Ignite Your Superpower, to hosting Special Edition Executive Women’s Forums (EWF) about diverse women in STEM or OperationAll to empower our male allies, to attending a 2-day Interrupting Racism for Our Children diversity training, to partnering with diverse media outlets, such as the Indianapolis Recorder, and funding academic and book scholarships, along with computer grants for diverse girls and women in STEM through several community partnerships, to even diversifying our scholarship and grant portfolio to be more accessible to diverse populations and ensuring that we include diverse leaders and experts on our award, scholarship, and grant selection committees – Women & Hi Tech has gotten very serious and actionable about being more diverse, equitable, and inclusive at all levels, and within our own organization as well.

    Notably, Women & Hi Tech got on this bandwagon long ago, before it was the cool thing to do.  In fact, capitalizing off the momentum garnered at our 20th Anniversary celebration in 2019 where we awarded the largest amount of scholarships and grants in the organization’s history to diverse women all across this state to publicly announcing that the theme for the 2020 Leading Light Awards on October 1st, which we’ve been planning since last year, is “Equity and Inclusion” - we recognized that equity and inclusion are real gaps in our STEM professional fields and in the fabric of our country, and we have positioned ourselves to address it.  So, as my last act as President of this awesome, premiere organization of STEM professionals in Indiana, I am excited to invite you all to support our incoming Board leadership team who will continue to perpetuate Women & Hi Tech’s mission of “changing the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all.”

    More specifically, on July 1, 2020, Rebecca Bormann will become our new President.  I can think of no one more passionate, purposeful, or prepared than Rebecca to lead our organization and continue to promote Women & Hi Tech’s mission to ensure that STEM in Indiana  is “equally inclusive to all.”  Rebecca is also highly driven to ensure that diversity of thought amongst organizational leadership is utilized to provide safe, effective, and relevant programming and events that meet our membership’s needs and expectations over this next year in light of COVID-19.  We welcome Rebecca’s powerful leadership.

    In addition to the remaining Directors on the Women & Hi Tech Board who will keep their current roles, Linda Hicks will transition from EWF Director to become our next President-Elect.  We also have three new Board members, including Ben Phillips as Treasurer, Linda Calvin as EWF Director, and Crystal Morton as our K-12 Director.  This 2020-2021 Women & Hi Tech Board is particularly exciting to me because, in addition to introducing exceptionally talented STEM leaders in our community to our board - namely Ben, Linda and Crystal, that already live and breathe our mission - we will also increase the diversity on the voting Board of Directors, such that over 33% or 5 of the 15 voting Directors are not Caucasian women.  

    This will also make the most diverse Board of Directors in the history of Women & Hi Tech.  While we understand that we should not become complacent until our Board reflects the diversity of our full membership, the diversity and expertise of this upcoming Board of Directors is a milestone and a major positive step in a very tangible and timely way.  I am so excited and proud of the Women & Hi Tech Board of Directors for taking real action to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion not just within our community, but within the ranks of our own organization focused on STEM facets, such as technology.

    In this 18th edition of “Grown from STEM,” Women & Hi Tech would like to introduce you to two outstanding technology professionals in different business facets of the STEM industry.  We invite you to meet and better get to know our President-Elect and Incoming President, Rebecca Bormann, a Managing Director of Sales & Services at Bell Techlogix.  We would also like to introduce you to Carrie Taylor, one of our most dedicated members who received an honorable mention as the 2019 Women & Hi Tech Volunteer of the Year.  Carrie is an Execution Lead in the IT department at Eli Lilly & Co.  Please read more about Rebecca and Carrie and how their backgrounds, business acumen, and passion for developing and promoting technology helps fuel their support and involvement in Women & Hi Tech.

    Most Sincerely and Final Farewell,

    Angela B. Freeman, M.S., J.D.
    President, Women & Hi Tech

  • 06/29/2020 12:01 PM | Anonymous

    Last year we profiled Rebecca Bormann’s incredible work as both Women & Hi Tech’s Director of Corporate Engagement and the Managing Director of Sales & Services at Bell Techlogix, a leading national IT Managed Services firm headquartered in Indianapolis. This year, we are excited to feature her again as the organization’s next President effective in just a few days, beginning on July 1, 2020. “In my fourth year on the board, I am amazed at how much I continue to fall in love with Women & Hi Tech and its members. As the mission of equity and inclusion has become even more at the forefront of everything the organization is doing, I feel even more passionate about helping to lead the change that will make our STEM industries and our world safer and more inclusive to all.”

    Bormann shared news about many of the steps that Women & Hi Tech has taken to put action behind its mission of inclusion. “Events like Ignite Your Superpower and our Special Edition Executive Women’s Forums focused on The Disparity of Diversity Amongst Women in STEM, and OperationALL have been some of the more visible programs to lead crucial conversations that help increase diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM. Board members also went through a 2-day anti-racism training led by Indiana Child Advocates, with a focus on how to Interrupt Racism For Our Children,” Bormann shared. “Whether it’s systemic injustices in education, the criminal justice and prison systems, healthcare, or STEM industries that must become more equitable, we need and want everyone’s hearts and minds to be open to make positive change.”

    When it comes to changes in STEM, Bormann observed that equity and inclusion is really what Women & Hi Tech’s movement is all about. “Certain groups of people have not been treated equally. Reforming systems, businesses, and how humans treat one another comes down not just to the different colors of people at the table, but the equality and inclusivity they experience in those seats. Our country claims everyone is equal, but that is not the case, which has become crystal clear in recent weeks and months if it wasn’t before — and we need it to be.” At her work, Rebecca shared that Bell Techlogix recently formed a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Committee, which she joined, that is tasked with evaluating and determining what actions Bell Techlogix can take to create a more equitable and inclusive culture and business practices, particularly for our African American, Black and Brown communities.  By suggestion of Bell Techlogix’s CEO, Ron Frankenfield, the committee’s first action named Juneteenth a Bell Techlogix company holiday.  For 2020, all employees were given a floating holiday to take on a day of their choosing, to remember, honor and celebrate the emancipation of those enslaved in the United States. Beginning in 2021, Juneteenth will be a Bell Techlogix corporate holiday. Rebecca commented, “When we include diverse people and perspectives to lead, brainstorm, create and solve problems, that is how we advance in organizations, in industries, in our communities, our states and in our nation. That is how we change the world.”

    This insight also renews Rebecca’s commitment to Women & Hi Tech, because she sees how women’s unique perspectives are essential to the problem-solving demanded in this new remote work environment created by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Everyone can relate to needing to pay closer attention to inflection and tone on calls. In video, we must be observant of body language. In my experience women excel at these things. Women are good listeners and survey the entire situation, not just the immediate words being used. But more than that, the pandemic has created widespread problems that affect so many such as, how to continue K-12 and collegiate education safely, job loss, economic issues, and of course how to stop the spread of COVID-19 and cure those infected. These are complex problems that need multiple perspectives, experiences, expertise and skill sets to solve- women bring their unique backgrounds, talents, skills and experiences to the table and are needed to create lasting, effective solutions.” She concluded, “Diverse women having a seat at the table—in business, in nonprofits, in the government—brings different perspective and ideas and ultimately, the best possible answers.”

    As President of the Board of Directors, Rebecca will lead the most diverse board Women & Hi Tech has ever been privileged to have in its 20-year history. “Our board and new board members are awesome,” she said plainly. This especially has her excited for the Leading Light Awards event (LLAs) scheduled October 1, 2020. “We don’t know yet what exactly this year’s LLAs is going to look like, if it will be everyone in person, virtual or some hybrid of the two. But we do know, we are still going to be celebrating amazing women in STEM that are leaders, risk-takers, motivators, mentors, landscape changers, equity and inclusion champions and our male allies. We are equally excited about funding growth of the future generation of female STEM professionals with over $40,000 in scholarships and grants that will be awarded through our #LLA20for20 campaign—the most ever awarded in Women & Hi Tech’s history. Our sponsors are not only speaking up about the importance of equity and inclusion in STEM fields, but are also financially supporting and getting involved to practically help further our mission of inclusion for all.”  

    Rebecca is excited to work with the board during her Presidential term to execute Women and Hi Tech’s new two-year strategy plan and primary goals. One personal mission during her presidency is to leave behind an even more diverse organization than she has stepped up to lead. “I want our board to include even more diversity in race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and represented STEM fields. Among our membership, we also need to attract more diverse women and men. That’s because we all agree our organization should be a place where all people feel included, welcomed, and can be their authentic selves—a place where we network, learn, and grow together as a STEM community because of everyone’s unique talents and gifts. We all share the passion. Now, we continue to put that passion to work to effect positive change in our organization, and our Indiana STEM community.”

  • 06/29/2020 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    Growing up in a family of eight siblings, Carrie Taylor saw heroines like Charlie’s Angels, Wonder Woman, and Dana Sculley as her inspiration. “I knew I wanted to kick butt, and I wanted to help people, just like they did. I have always been tender-hearted by nature and wanted to help those in need.” But Taylor knew it was more expected of her to get married and have children than to go to college. “Fighting against that was a hard battle sometimes,” Taylor shared. “Wanting to go to college at all automatically made me a little odd, and then add in the fact I was interested in STEM.”

    Taylor worked while attending classes, paid her own tuition and ultimately completed both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in Information Technology at Florida Institute of Technology, a tier 1 ranked university for STEM. Today, she is known as the Data Diva to her peers, with over 25 years of experience in all things data, including being a published author in the field. “Data helps me paint a bigger picture of the world by revealing hidden information,” she explained. “I always want to know more and solve the puzzle. I like figuring out what information truly means.”

    She has been excited to see a new focus and emphasis on data in the IT community after her decades of focus in the field. “I have often said data is like oil—you have to mine it, refine it, and use it, but then it can drive everything. And now that is coming to fruition.”

    Currently, Taylor works at Eli Lilly & Company as an Execution Lead, where she is also involved with the Women in IT employee resource group. She learned about Women & Hi Tech three years ago through her connection to fellow Lilly employee Karen Harris. “We partnered with Women & Hi Tech to help with Passport to Hi Tech and Ignite Your Superpower, but right away I also saw opportunity to build camaraderie and meet amazing people.” Since then, Taylor has jumped at every opportunity to volunteer, whether it’s working the coat check, getting on the phone to organize, handing out tee shirts, or something new and exciting. She was named the 2019 Volunteer of the Year by Women & Hi Tech. However, this is just one of the many organizations Carrie dedicates her time to, with others including Habitat for Humanity, Girls Inc., and the Mozel Sanders Foundation.

    Taylor is married and a mother to two sons. “I got married and had kids to enhance my life, but it was important to me that wasn’t the step to complete my life,” she said. It’s also been important to her to raise her sons as feminists. “They have witnessed me being discriminated against for my gender. I use that as a teachable moment to say, ‘You can be better than such a person. Moving forward, you can make a difference by being an advocate.’”

    Carrie says the STEM environment has become more inclusive to women, especially in the field of data. “There have been times I was the only woman at a conference, among thousands of people. Or I would see another woman in a room full of people and get excited to speak with someone who understood my challenges. Now I’m thrilled to see there are so many sharp, driven, quality women coming out of cCarrollege. It’s so fulfilling to me to leave the future in their hands and pass along my learnings through mentorship.”

    Though she’s only been involved for three years, she has seen Women & Hi Tech make great strides in modeling this attitude and helping drive the change. “The emphasis on inclusion at Women & Hi Tech is now so much bigger. It’s impossible to feel like an outsider for long because at every event there are more new people attending for the first time.”

    Of course, that doesn’t mean the work of equality in STEM is done. While Carrie hopes that the next few decades would make Women & Hi Tech’s mission obsolete once the landscape of STEM is truly inclusive to all, she knows it’s a long road ahead. “Latina and Black women are behind on the pay scale and behind in opportunity. I hope in coming years more Women & Hi Tech members are rural women and women of color, because those groups face some of the biggest barriers to access in STEM.” She added, “It’s wonderful to have a community to lean on. I have not experienced that until now and it’s nice to be a part of it. I am honored to participate in making that joy available to everyone.”

  • 06/01/2020 6:00 PM | Anonymous

    I have been trying to find the right words to share with you in light of recent events involving Mr. Ahmaud Arbery, Mr. Christian Cooper, Ms. Breonna Taylor – which particularly hits home as a native female Kentuckian- and now, Mr. George Floyd. Admittedly, I had to reach out to my own Firm Diversity Partner, mentor, and friend, Dawn Rosemond, for guidance as I questioned whether I could say anything helpful given how deeply and personally affected and traumatized I have been and remain by all of the current events. These feelings have only been even more inflamed with the recent violence and destruction of our city’s core, including my professional work home.

    As an African-American woman, as a black mother of black sons married to a black man, and as a recognized diversity, equity, and inclusion champion for the last two decades, I am currently overwhelmed with emotions that vacillate from terror to anger to despair and hopelessness. But, I am also the President of this organization and recognize that there is no better time to lead by example in order to do what I can to support you, our members and this fine organization, to help us move forward in the best way possible to live and breathe our mission of providing a local, statewide, and even a national landscape, that is “equally inclusive to all.”

    Please let me be clear – I have no answers or magic words to fix the frustration, fear, and/or paralysis many of you are likely feeling. Believe me, if I did I would use them on myself; I certainly need them. But, I will say this.

    To our African-American and other diverse members struggling to make sense of this current state of our union, please know that you are seen and valued in this organization. To the myriad of allies, including our diverse and non-diverse male allies, who are hurting as well and trying to figure out what to do and say, please know that you just taking the time to care, to reach out, to check in with those you know are suffering means more than you could ever imagine. Finally, for those struggling to understand just what’s going on at all and why recent events even matter beyond the norm, know that is okay too. It has to be if we are serious about fostering true inclusion in this organization. We must meet each other where we currently are. I simply ask that you err on the side of compassion, humanity, and empathy for others while on your journey of understanding.

    Finally, for those asking "what can I do"? Particularly for our non-diverse colleagues and peers who simply do not know what they can do in these uncertain times. I would advise you to implement the same takeaways learned by our Women & Hi Tech Board at the two-day “Interrupting Racism for Our Children” training that we attended earlier this year – use your voice, publicly and privately, to diminish fear and misinformation with knowledge, history, and empathy. Have the uncomfortable and challenging conversations with your children, your family, and those with whom you have influence, including those you know to not agree with equity and inclusion of all people. In the hearts and minds of those with privilege and power is where true change lies.

    To that end, below are some local and national resources on allyship best practices. We hope these provide some value to help us all move forward in our journey of being the most inclusive organization, city, state, and country we know we can be.

    Thank you for taking the time to listen. My heart and prayers are with you and all of those affected by the recent events in this country and our city. We are #INthistogether. I appreciate you!

    Angela B. Freeman, M.S., J.D.
    President, Women & Hi Tech


    • Over Coming Bias by Tiffany Jana and Matthew Freeman
    • Lead Like An Ally by Julie Kratz
    • Race Matters by Cornel West
    • White Fragility by Robin DiAngelo

    Training and Other Resources:

    Ted Talks:

  • 05/29/2020 8:02 AM | Anonymous

    Dear Women & Hi Tech Members, Sponsors, Partners and Friends,

    Since 1949, Mental Health America and other health organizations around the country have led the observance of May as Mental Health Month by reaching millions of people through the media, local events and screenings. According to Mental Health America, "While 1 in 5 people will experience a mental illness during their lifetime, everyone faces challenges in life that can impact their mental health." As Women & Hi Tech President, Angela B. Freeman, noted in the April Edition of this newsletter, "Whether infected or not, coronavirus has had an effect on us all. Not each in the same way or to the same level, but to some degree. The mental, emotional, physical, and financial toll on all of us is different, just like each one of us is different."

    We are all still making our way, figuring out how to navigate all the challenges and changes at work, at school, and at home created by the pandemic. We face new emotional, physical, spiritual, and mental challenges as we continue to adapt, embrace, and work collectively and individually to “flatten the curve" and keep one another safe. Mental Health Month is just the reminder each of us needs to "check-in" with our mental health, particularly during these unprecedented and challenging times.

    In my research on Mental Health Month, I learned that Mental Health America provides a mental health toolkit, which can be found here.  Mental Health America's theme for 2020, "Tools 2 Thrive, will provide practical tools that everyone can use to improve their mental health and increase resiliency regardless of the situations they are dealing with," are spot-on.  I encourage you to take some time to "check-in" on your mental health and the mental health of your family, friends, co-workers, and other loved ones. We can all use a little support and encouragement from time to time.  Now is the opportunity to stop and be sure we are taking care of ourselves and our fellow neighbor, particularly those who have been materially affected by the pandemic.

    For example, school districts, especially urban school districts, have been particularly challenged by the pandemic with school closures and having to transition to remote and online learning quickly.  Many districts, including our own Indianapolis Public Schools (IPS), not only had to adapt to teaching and learning remotely in a matter of days, but had the additional challenge of many students not having the tools at home needed for virtual learning. In a school district like IPS, 65% of the over 27,000 student population qualify for free and reduced services. That translates into a large number of students who were put at a learning disadvantage when schools closed because access to a computer, tablet, and/or internet at home was lacking. The IPS Foundation launched the IPS Education Equity Fund to help solve this disparity. You can read more about the IPS Foundation and the Education Equity Fund on the blog here.

    I am delighted to share with you that the Women & Hi Tech board recently voted and unanimously approved to donate $2500, our remaining 2019-2020 K-12 budget, to the IPS Education Equity Fund.  In support of our mission to change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all, we believe it starts with our girls, including our diverse girls.  It is our hope and expectation that this donation will provide about 15-16 computers for IPS girls who may have interest to pursue STEM.

    “Women & Hi Tech is proud to support the IPS Education Equity Fund, and we make our donation in honor of one of Women & Hi Tech's Leading Light Award Inaugural Winners and IPS IT Officer, Laura Larimer, along with all Women in STEM at IPS and their male allies."

    Women & Hi Tech believes that we need to encourage, promote, and ensure that all girls in our community are receiving the education they deserve and equal access to opportunities to pursue an interest in STEM.  Education and opportunity for our girls are the foundation of equality and inclusion for women in the STEM fields, such as information technology (IT). 

    In this 17th edition of "Grown from STEM," Women & Hi Tech would like to introduce two extraordinary female IT leaders with impressive careers, both dedicated and passionate about creating equity and inclusion in all that they do. Please meet our Director of Volunteers, Karen Harris, Vice President, and Information Officer of Manufacturing and Quality for Eli Lilly & Co. Please also meet tenured member, Linda Calvin, Vice President of the School of IT at Ivy Tech Community College. Both ladies play vital roles in problem-solving for their organizations and developing the next generation of diverse female IT leaders. Please read more about Karen and Linda and how their backgrounds, business acumen, and passion for paving the way for future STEM leaders fuels their support and involvement in Women & Hi Tech.

    Kind Regards,

    Rebecca Bormann
    President-Elect, Women & Hi Tech

  • 05/29/2020 8:01 AM | Anonymous

    In the last board profile of Karen Harris, we shared the story of her upbringing and background, and how her passion for STEM has spanned generations in her family. While you can read that story here, it’s also important to note that this background informed and supported her decision to retain the Volunteer Chair on the Women & Hi Tech Board of Directors.

    “I am part of the Women & Hi Tech organization because I am passionate about STEM, and about the work of passing that passion down to the next generations,” she said. Harris defined her unique lens on the broad world of STEM as being Computer Science and IT related fields. “Every doctrine of STEM is different and has different needs, but in the Computer Science and IT related field, the work of diversity and inclusion is far from done,” she said.

    Indeed, a partnership between Google and research firm Gallup revealed the gaps in opportunity between access to a computer science related education and the female, Black, and Hispanic students that are growing parts of the next generation of professionals. Harris says she has chosen to stay engaged on the Board of Directors in part because Women & Hi Tech’s mission goes beyond its name in a way that aligns deeply with her personal values.

    “Women & Hi Tech exists to change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all. We want to educate and provide opportunities for women and men,” she explains. “I’m a fundamental believer the more diverse your team the better your results will be, and gender is just one hallmark of diversity. There’s race, educational background, upbringing, and ultimately, how people think. All those elements contribute to diversity and a winning team.”

    Today Harris is the Vice President and Information Officer of Manufacturing and Quality at Eli Lilly and Co, where she also chairs the internal Information and Digital Solutions (IDS) Diversity and Inclusion Group and the Women in IDS Group. When asked what she thinks prevents more organizations from being truly inclusive, she identifies several factors, from how opinions are solicited and welcomed in meetings to the overall hiring and recruiting processes. “What changes the landscape is when one group sets the example and truly tries to bring in and connect others. If some people dominate and others don’t get to participate, it takes the collective team to help restore the balance.  Individuals crave to be engaged and to contribute with a desire to understand how what they do ties to the bigger picture.”

    Karen went on to liken how you create a diverse and inclusive culture to how many companies have created a culture of safety. “The leaders might start by describing at a high level why safety practices are important. But each employee has to believe in it, watch out for others, share near misses, and protect others to truly create and sustain that environment.

    "You can have a diverse team, but if you haven’t created an inclusive culture where diverse perspectives are heard and incorporated, you are missing the boat.”

    Harris has sustained her commitment to Women & Hi Tech because it is home to this kind of inclusive culture. “This organization is a great outlet to not only encourage school aged children to become part of STEM, but to support professionals at all stages of their careers through scholarships,  educational programming, and volunteer opportunities that expand our networks and knowledge.” As Volunteer Chair, it is Karen’s priority to help members connect with opportunities that ignite their passions and connect them to the Indiana tech community. “Volunteering is a chance to meet people and become exposed to perspectives outside your company, just like our programming is an opportunity to learn something, and in turn help others, whether as small as checking people in and taking their coat with a smile, or as large as inspiring a young person to keep a STEM career in mind.”

    Ultimately, when Karen thinks about her involvement in Women & Hi Tech as well as her career at Eli Lilly, she considers her definition of success. “To me, the biggest measure of my success is if there is a strong pipeline of talent coming behind me in succession,” she said. “When I look back one day and think about my career, I won’t remember all the projects that seem important today. I will remember the diverse array of people in various roles and opportunities that I helped put in place for the future. If I didn’t leverage my leadership roles to lift up and challenge those coming behind me, I would have failed.”

    Karen would like to thank her family for being her biggest supporters, from her husband and two college-aged sons to her parents, siblings and all her in-laws.   She is truly fortunate to have a strong support system around her who have always believed in her and helped her out when needed.

  • 05/29/2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    Some people might say you can’t build an impactful and meaningful career in STEM starting from the help desk. But for Linda Calvin, today the Vice President of the School of IT at Ivy Tech Community College, that’s exactly where she began. Born in Chicago but raised in Indianapolis, Calvin spent 20 years working at Dow, which became Dow Agrosciences, and is today Corteva. “I started out just teaching scientists how to use the IT system.” While she was an employee at Dow, Calvin completed a bachelor’s in journalism at Butler University, graduating cum laude.

    “That communications background, coupled with my IT knowledge, meant I was tapped to help out with policy communications and change management, and ultimately asked to lead digital projects.” Calvin became the global digital project lead for social media and web apps. But she knew she still hadn’t found her true calling. “One of my friends told me over margaritas that I should think about becoming a lawyer. Next thing I knew I was sitting in the LSAT, wondering where he had gone off to,” she joked. Calvin also completed her law degree at Indiana University while an employee at Dow, with the goal of using her hybrid background in IT, communications, and law to make an impact on legislation.

    Instead, she assumed the role of assistant city prosecutor for Indianapolis in 2013. Despite continuing to speak on how highly regulated environments could effectively use social media, she found she missed the tech world. After becoming a certified Scrum Master, she worked with several Indianapolis companies at director and senior level IT roles, helping them leverage digital solutions to drive growth. In 2019 she joined the leadership at Ivy Tech.

    “Everyone says my background is scattered, but at the end of the day all my fields of study connect in the discipline of problem solving. Today, it’s a major part of my role to solve problems for many different groups.”  Calvin spends time working with Ivy Tech faculty and deans to ensure the curriculum across the school’s 9 IT programs is relevant and meaningful to a diverse body of students who need to enter the work force with high-quality skills. Through programs like Ivy Works, she helps the college take steps to include women and minorities in STEM fields.  “I also spend a lot of time speaking with employers and organizations about our talent pipeline. Anyone hiring IT professionals needs to be communicating with Ivy Tech. We are graduating a diverse student body who all want to stay right here in Indiana and work.”

    “I have seen the lights go on for some businesses understanding how to partner with Ivy Tech, but I also hear from these employers that they have struggled to find diverse talent to hire,” she continued. “That’s how I know there is still a lot of work to do bridging gaps. Seeing the lack of women in IT, and especially the lack of women of color in IT, is what drew me to return to a membership with Women & Hi Tech.”

    Linda had learned about and briefly joined Women & Hi Tech around a decade ago, but her busy schedule earning multiple degrees and working hard led her to not be as involved as she might have.  She got re-engaged after connecting with past president Darcy Lee, discussing the desire to elevate women in STEM and take action to address disparity. “20 years ago, Women & Hi Tech was alone. Now we are the big sister to a lot of other groups all working to move the needle,” Calvin observed.

    “Women and minorities know when they are just a diversity hire, because their presence in the actual conversation is minimized,” Linda explained. “When you are only playing a supporting role, and aren’t invited to the meeting with a client, or the social events, that’s when it becomes apparent. That’s where we need to educate that women in tech and in STEM have a tremendous positive impact on the bottom line and are great leaders.”

    Calvin emphasized this effort is as much about teaching women and girls they deserve to shine as it is about educating employers and male allies. “I think imposter syndrome is a huge barrier for women,” she said. “It holds us back from just exploding in STEM when we are told those fields aren’t for us. And when we do succeed, when women today are kicking butt, it might even hold us back from being seen---because we don’t think we should be. It’s ingrained that it’s unattractive to want to be the center of attention. And until we flip that script, it’s going to be an uphill battle.”

    Linda says one strategy that could flip the script sooner is a proactive approach to seeking out women in STEM fields and inviting them to be seen and recognized before they even know they should be. “There has to be some way to start onboarding people into this sisterhood of STEM. When we’ve been beholden to keep heads down and work hard, we don’t look around to see who is with us, and so don’t know that someone else has been in a role like ours for five years at another company.”

    She also hopes to see Women & Hi Tech unite in symposium with other local groups like Women Who Code, Pass the Torch for Women, and Ladies in SaaS to discuss what can be done in unity to move the needle and make a statewide impact. “We have to link arms, work together, and influence legislation,” she says. “Women & people of color need to be at the table while legislators are talking about tech in Indiana, and currently we are not.”

    Linda’s own involvement with Women & Hi Tech has included sharing these ideas to start conversation among the membership. “One person might ultimately be the delegate, but they will represent the entire group, and so the group must take collective action.” Linda spoke at the February 2020 Executive Women’s Forum titled “The Disparity of Diversity Among Women in STEM.” She has also served as a judge for Women & Hi Tech’s scholarship awards and regularly attends events including the 20th Anniversary celebration last fall. “I brought a recent Ivy Tech IT graduate with me to that event and the experience fully energized and inspired her,” Linda shared. “To me, one of the greatest values of this organization is it teaches every member, men and women, what they can do to be a better advocate for others.”

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Women & Hi Tech is a 501(c)3 charitable organization, and all donations are tax-deductible to the extent allowed by law. Federal ID Number: 35-2113596. 
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