Women & Hi Tech exists to change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all.


  • 12/20/2021 9:17 AM | Anonymous

    Cynthia Bennett, Women & Hi Tech’s  K-12 Outreach Director, has a personal perspective on her role with Women & Hi Tech. “I speak from experience as a young person who knew there were resources and professionals helping other students guide and grow their careers—and having those feelings, wondering if anyone would ever show up for us someday. I always said when I could be the voice for those who are forgotten or unseen, I would gather a group and share the message that the marginalized, too, can be anything they want to be.”

    Cynthia assumes the role of K-12 Outreach Director after serving as the Committee Co-Chair since 2020. She is excited to share some wins that have already been achieved. “We met our reach-goal with Girl Scouts by doing virtual STEM programming to girls across the state. The leaders were so happy we could do that. It gave us a chance to use the T in STEM and be forward-facing.” Cynthia also spoke on a career panel for The Girls STEM Institute at IUPUI. “It was such an honor to share my story with girls in high school who intend to pursue STEM careers. They asked great questions about how I got where I am in my career.”

    Looking ahead, she shared some insight into her goals. “I have a major goal to reach out to schools in underserved communities. I want to expose the students to smart women who can speak to them, encourage them to pursue careers in STEM, and help them be good students.” She is also excited about the potential for advancing impactful partnering opportunities with youth serving organizations, such as Girls Inc. of Greater Indianapolis and their Eureka STEM program and continuing to grow the relationship with the Girl Scouts of Central Indiana.

    “We need to be encouraging students we don’t interact with on a continual basis. That’s the inclusion element that makes the pipeline more diverse and allows people access to STEM opportunities who don’t even know they can have a seat at the table. We will continue to align our thinking and our actions to reach students who really need us.”

  • 12/20/2021 9:16 AM | Anonymous

    Sahara Williams practices law in the areas of intellectual property and data privacy and security. Before her recent career change into law, she was an engineer for many years.

    Becoming the networking director for Women & Hi Tech felt like a natural progression for Sahara. She’s been deeply involved with volunteering for most of her professional life, including with Eastern Star Church, the National Society for Black Engineers, and Alpha Kappa Alpha—just to name a few. In her role with Women & Hi Tech, she’s excited to deliver events that promote the organization’s commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion.

    According to Sahara, networking starts with developing meaningful connections. And that’s the same for equity and inclusion. She went on to say, “Both networking and equity start with talking, communicating, and building relationships that facilitate support, friendship, and collaboration toward greater goals. It’s so important to have an environment where people can come together and feel welcome for exactly who they are, without feeling any pressure to change anything about themselves or where they are in their own personal life and journey.”

    Over the next year, Sahara has set a goal to diversify member engagement. “We started a committee to lead the networking events planning efforts for Women & Hi Tech. And not just to do the planning ourselves, but to engage our members in the process. We want to know what their ideas are, what they’re experiencing, what they’re feeling, how they’ve been impacted by events, and what’s working well (and what’s not).” While we won’t share too many details just yet, Sahara and her committee have some exciting events planned for 2022 to help members connect with one another in more meaningful and intentional ways!

    A few final notes from Sahara: “A member survey about the holiday event is now live. Please fill it out honestly and openly so we can ensure we’re being responsive to the needs of our organization. And, if you’re interested in sharing any thoughts or ideas about events, please email me so we can explore how to incorporate them into the planning process.” Sahara can be reached at networking@womenandhitech.org.

  • 12/18/2021 11:18 AM | Anonymous

    Joy Neely is the Vice President of Sales at CareMetx, a healthcare technology company that provides patient services to pharmaceutical manufacturers and diagnostics companies. She has also been a board member for Women & Hi Tech for three years, and currently holds our newly-created board position of Engagement, Diversity & Inclusion Director (EDI).

    Throughout her professional career, Joy has been actively engaged in business resource groups and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion leadership opportunities in the organizations where she has worked and volunteered. Still, she wanted to be more connected within her community. She was introduced to Women & Hi Tech at her previous employer, Roche Diagnostics Corporation, while serving as the Co-Lead for the Women’s Leadership Initiative—one of the Roche Diagnostics Business Resource Groups. She quickly found that Women & Hi Tech was an excellent fit for her to plug into, and the organization has a mission that aligns with her values.

    In 2019, she became the Corporate Engagement Director and was in that role for two years. Throughout her professional career, she held several sales and business development roles and this was a great way to leverage her strengths, identifying new sponsors for Women & Hi Tech to partner with. In 2020 the board saw an opportunity to make a step change improvement in our diversity strategy by creating a new board position—and the Engagement, Diversity & Inclusion Director role was born. Joy quickly jumped at the chance to fill this role and establish a strong foundation.

    The Women & Hi Tech Board has been on a journey to continually improve the organization’s diversity and to formalize its Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion strategy. Joy was able to join the board during a pivotal time when Angela B. Freeman was the President of Women & Hi Tech. Under Angela’s leadership, the board attended the 2-day training course, Interrupting Racism for our Children, that focused on increasing the diversity of the board.

    This commitment to diverse board leadership has continued with Rebecca Bormann and Linda Hicks' presidencies. A Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Statement was also created and added to the Women & Hi Tech website.

    This new role formalizes the path forward for the future.

    In the fall of 2021, Joy launched an Engagement, Diversity & Inclusion Committee of Women & Hi Tech members that represent local Indianapolis organizations, including Infosys, Eli Lilly & Company, Roche Diagnostics, Optum, Allison Transmission, Bell Techlogix, Six Feet Up, and Optimist Business Solutions. This power-house team is composed of Key Opinion Leaders in the DEI space that will help create the blueprint of the Goals, Objectives, Tactics, and Measures to enable Women & Hi Tech to be better aligned with members, sponsors, and community organizations.

    Joy is excited and grateful to this committee of thought-partners and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion experts for allowing Women & Hi Tech to understand any gaps in the current strategy and assist the organization with building a plan to level up.

    Stay tuned for updates to the Women & Hi Tech Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Strategy, Goals, and Objectives in 2022.

  • 11/24/2021 4:32 PM | Anonymous

    Personal branding is a topic many of our members have expressed interest in learning more about. We were so excited to host a discussion about best practices on November 17th! Women & Hi Tech President Linda Hicks and Past President Rebecca Bormann led the conversation. Here are some of the main ideas and tips we took away from the discussion.

    • Personal branding encompasses not just what people say about you, but also what they think about you and expect from your presence. Therefore, social media is an important element of personal branding, but only when the persona you present is backed up and confirmed by your behaviors.

    •  Your personal brand also lets people know what you stand for, your values, and your boundaries. Sharing articles and observations, as well as anecdotes and moments of vulnerability, helps reinforce your truth by showing others, not telling them.

    • Authenticity is essential to personal branding. Many attendees agreed that it is off-putting when someone presents one way on social media or at work, then behaves totally differently in other areas of their life. In fact, this inspires some professionals to stay off social media altogether, to avoid misalignment between their personal brand and professional brand.

    To better-define your personal brand, start with two or three words that describe how you want to be perceived. Then, ask others in your life for “360 feedback.” This is a list of questions sent to a wide variety of the people you interact with, including friends, peers, supervisors, vendors, and more. 

    Collecting anonymous responses lets you learn how you are perceived across the broad spectrum of your life. Do you come across in the way you aspire? What experiences does your network have with you that confirms or contradicts your desired personal brand?

    Another proven step to build your brand is consistency. Find your cadence and desired tone and be consistent in how and where you share those messages.

    If developing and deepening your personal brand and executive presence are some of your goals in 2022, we would love for you to join us for a new Women & Hi Tech Professional Development Series on Executive Presence and Personal Branding launching in January! Through pre-recorded training and small group exercises, we can’t wait to help our members grow their personal presence, capacity to achieve buy-in, and negotiation skills. Learn more and register to join us for one, two, or all three sessions!

  • 11/24/2021 3:18 PM | Anonymous

    This year, we took our proprietary OperationAll programming virtual with an amazing panel on November 18th. 

    Linda Hicks, President of Women & Hi Tech, and board member Tiffany White kicked off the event in agreement that more involvement from male allies earlier in their careers would have helped them feel more welcomed and empowered in their roles as engineers.

    Then, we got to hear tips, insights, and anecdotes about male allyship from our panel of experts. Here are a few of the gems we heard from each participant:

    Doug Theis, Director of National Strategy at Expedient 

    “If leadership is not modeling and communicating about appropriate culture, then it’s hard for others to follow. That’s where men need female allies to give them honest feedback and even call them out when behavior is acting as a barrier, rather than a bridge.” 

    Chris Fultz, Program Executive, B-52 / F130 at Rolls-Royce 

    “Not recognizing the value of a woman’s input because there is a man you trust more can be a very harmful behavior. This even extends to job postings. Be aware of how you are listing what is required for a role versus what is desired.” 

    Calvin Hendryx-Parker, Chief Technology Officer and Co-founder of Six Feet Up

    “You can’t deal with a situation if you don’t start with your own behaviors and reactions. Men may tend to cut people off because we have a great idea and want to express it, but it’s been important for me to learn to pause and give room for everyone’s voice to be heard.”  

    Wayne Patrick, Chief Revenue Officer at AIS 

    “Make the issue personal. Give it the ‘what if’ test. What would you want done if a woman in your life was going through the experiences of your colleagues? When the issue becomes real to you in this way, you will be a better listener and a better advocate.”

    Ben Phillips, Director in the Audit and Assurance Services, Katz, Sapper, & Miller and Treasurer of Women & Hi Tech. 

    “Allow yourself time to practice allyship. Give yourself the kindness to take baby steps and work toward building connections and self-awareness. Don’t assume you know what opportunities people want, what they want to learn, or that you can speak for them.”

    Listen to the full panel recording to learn how each panelist defines allyship, the strategies for equity and inclusion that have worked at their organizations, and what to do in tense situations. Thank you again to all these experts for sharing their stories and perspectives! We are so grateful to have these allies in our mission to change the landscape for women in STEM and make these industries equally inclusive to all. 

  • 11/10/2021 9:14 AM | Anonymous

    Amber Peckham is the new Communications Director of Women & Hi Tech. She applied for this position after volunteering with Women & Hi Tech for many years as part of her role as a Senior Content Manager at Metonymy Media, a longtime sponsor. “My past colleague Darcy Lee served as President of Women & Hi Tech during her time working at Metonymy. Through her we were able to get involved with creating content for Women & Hi Tech.” This included member and board member profiles, putting Amber directly in touch with the incredible stories every member of Women & Hi Tech has to tell.

    “I was fascinated to learn about so many diverse STEM industries, and inspired and motivated by the women’s stories of overcoming barriers in their professional and personal lives.” When she learned the Communications role was available, she felt called to step up and help amplify the stories of the organization. “I am from a small town in rural Indiana. I loved chemistry, but I literally remember thinking that there wasn’t any way to have a job doing chemistry--because I wasn’t hearing those stories or seeing those role models.”

    Amber’s goals in her role include supporting Women & Hi Tech’s statewide expansion initiatives, which will be starting in Fort Wayne and Columbus in 2022. “I want to make sure we are telling stories of people in those communities, and the work they are doing to improve their own little corner of our beautiful state and its hidden gem, the STEM ecosystem.” Amber also aspires to drive member engagement and make more potential members aware of Women & Hi Tech statewide through keyword optimization of the website.

    “As a creative professional, I bring a unique perspective to the table, since most of my fellow board members have backgrounds in science, technology, engineering, and math. Working together, we are going to achieve incredible things.”

  • 11/10/2021 9:12 AM | Anonymous

    Hannah Stork is a Client Executive for the software development company Rural Sourcing, based in Fort Wayne, Indiana. Hannah decided to join Women & Hi Tech because of her desire to engage with, support, and learn from other women in STEM.

    As our Corporate Engagement Director, Hannah has made it her mission to help Women & Hi Tech become a statewide movement. In her role, Hannah develops creative and engaging ways to grow the organization’s sponsorship base across Indiana with focuses currently in Indianapolis, Fort Wayne and Columbus. She is also a member of our Infrastructure task force which is committed to engaging and support more women outside of the greater Indianapolis area. Hannah is leading the implementation of Women & Hi Tech’s first Fort Wayne in-person event in 2022.Details will be published in Q1 of 2022.

    Hannah brings a fresh pair of eyes and creativity to her role. As an example, she recently met with a potential sponsor who didn’t have very many employees based in Indiana. However, they were so impressed with Women &Hi Tech’ s mission and organization, they decided to become a sponsor and donate some of their memberships to Indiana STEM college students and other individuals who may not otherwise have access. Hannah’s ability to “sell” the benefits of Women & Hi Tech membership has resulted in several new sponsors and a great pipeline of sponsor candidates. Needless to say, she’s keeping very busy!

    Regarding her overarching goals as a board member of Women & Hi Tech, Hannah wants to be an active force in helping women without STEM degrees be equally represented in STEM. “I want women like me to understand that a STEM career is not off-limits. There are plenty of opportunities in STEM for people who don’t have a technical background but are interested in technology and science. I feel honored to be part of an initiative that is exposing women and young girls to the endless opportunities that exist in science, technology, engineering, and math.”

  • 11/01/2021 9:04 AM | Anonymous

    We currently need two volunteers to lead committees to support the planning of our Leading Light Awards. Time commitments are estimated to be 10-20 hours per month, likely increasing as the event date approaches on Oct 6, 2022.

    Registration Chair and Committee: The Registration Committee Chair will be responsible for running registration for the 2022 Leading Light Awards. They will gather additional Registration Committee Members to help with managing guest check-in at LLA, seating chart maintenance and management, and maintaining monthly registration counts compared to goal, among other duties. They will also manage the on-site registration process (check-in, drink tickets, seat assignments) as well as the 24-48 hour notice of attendee name changes. They will create a form to collect information of attendees from each sponsor (name, dietary restrictions), and contact bundle admins to determine attendees from each sponsor, managing any changes, and other needs as applicable.

    Volunteer Chair and Committee: The Volunteer Committee Chair will be responsible for gathering, managing, and being the main point of contact for volunteers specifically for the 2022 LLAs. They will coordinate with committee chairs to determine on-site volunteer needs, as well as coordinate on-site volunteer assignments, prep, instruction, and escalations. They will also assist in the planning and execution of the event within the approved budget. Volunteers will help with many tasks including: greeting guests at arrival, escorting guests to their seats, acting as human arrows, running candy tables, assisting with registration, setup and teardown assistance, and other needs as applicable.

    If you are interested in one of these positions, please reach out to Lauryn Andrews at lla@womenandhitech.org and Amber Peckham at communications@womenandhitech.org by November 8.

  • 10/31/2021 3:49 PM | Anonymous

    By Glenn Keller

    On October 14th, 2021, we were honored to hear from speaker, coach, and author Caroline Dowd-Higgins at our  Executive Women’s Forum, the first in-person event we hosted in over a year. Ivy Tech sponsored the event at their Culinary and Conference Center, including the historic Courses Restaurant, operated by Ivy Tech culinary students.

    “The purpose of Network like a Ninja was to help women understand how they can network better and to instill the confidence required to network. And of course, to practice,” said Linda Calvin, Director of the Executive Women’s Forum. “The post-event networking session gave attendees the opportunity to use the skills Caroline shared in her presentation in a very common environment for networking, ‘the happy hour.’”

    Board President Linda Hicks, was on hand to kick things off and Ivy Tech President Dr. Sue Ellsperman made time in her busy schedule to also offer her welcome and support. Both women gave a personal example of the power of networking and how networking played a pivotal role in their career development.

    Caroline Dowd-Higgins covered the importance of networking not only as a career supercharger but as a necessity. She made it clear from the start that this was not going to be a lean-back-and-watch session. Her message was interactive, thought-provoking, and full of helpful, practical advice.

    The beautiful Courses restaurant was a perfect backdrop for drinks, hors d'oeuvre and conversation. We played a game of Networking Bingo, gathering information about the new friends we made. The first two attendees to complete their bingo cards won copies of Caroline’s book, "This Is Not The Career I Ordered." We even learned that "Elvis Slept Here" prior to performing his final concert at the old Market Square Arena. Who knew?

    Attendees had the chance to get their picture taken by the incredible Faith Blackwell, who also generously donated a PowerShots session to support Girls Inc of Greater Indianapolis in honor of International Day of the Girl. Our Girls Inc. friends were on location to accept donations in support of their programming. Congratulations to our networking package raffle winners, Sonal Sheth Zawahri and Lisa Petersen, and the winner of the PowerShots session, Rinn Neidig.

    Takeaways From the Event

    It is hard for some people to effectively network. Women especially can view it as "non-authentic" or awkward. Introverts in particular also find networking difficult, but the super-power that many introverts have is their ability to listen. Extroverts may not be as tentative to network, however, listening to understand and not just jumping in with comments is a struggle which may make their networking efforts less effective.

    Caroline covered some important "dos" for networking:

    • Listen first: encourage people to talk about themselves. Invite others into the conversation--which is also a good way to exit.
    • Think about what you want the person to remember about you when they walk away...short term memory will allow them to remember 1-3 things at the most.
    • Always close with an offer to help and then follow-up quickly with something of value to them such as an introduction, a link to an article, etc.

    Of course, there were some networking "don'ts" as well:

    • Don't start right off with a pitch or asking for a job. And never ask if you can pick their brain; people make a living with their expertise and shouldn't be asked to give it away.
    • Don't rush to fill in any quiet space. Others in the conversation may still be processing what was just said.
    • Remember that though you may be comfortable dominating a room or a conversation, that can be a turn-off to those you are speaking with. Honor others by adjusting your approach to match their energy while staying authentic.

    Quick LinkedIn Tips:

    • Stay away from "needy" LinkedIn headlines like "looking for an opportunity."
    • LinkedIn gives more exposure to people with over 500 connections.
    • Follow companies you are interested in working with on LinkedIn. Someone will notice.
    • Comment on content that interests you, especially from influencers.
    • An audience member shared that you can easily generate a QR code of your LinkedIn profile, which is helpful at networking events.

    In Closing

    Many thanks to Caroline Dowd-Higgins for helping us all break out of our shell on our own terms, to Linda Calvin for organizing this great learning opportunity, and to presenting sponsor Ivy Tech Community College for hosting us! As we move into 2022, Women & Hi Tech looks forward to continuing our tradition of providing our members with meaningful career development – wait until you see what we have planned!

  • 10/31/2021 2:57 PM | Anonymous

    Our bi-annual Fall Retreat at French Lick Resort in early October 2021 left attendees feeling refreshed, recharged, informed, and inspired. That's all thanks to a keynote presentation from author Angel Henry, as well as the power of the fellowship and friendship we shared--especially at our Western-themed dinner!

    Special shoutout to our President-Elect Dr. Maria Alvim-Gaston (below) and our Fall Retreat planning committee for all their work creating this special getaway for our members and guests.

    Women & Hi Tech President Linda Hicks shared the story of a chance meeting with a hotel guest in the casino. This gentleman celebrates his birthday annually at the resort.

    "He remembered our group from two years ago and had taken a picture with us dressed as flappers--and still had that photo in his phone! He and his wife wanted another photo with us in our Western gear." We had fun sharing with him about our organization and joked that we will see him in 2023!

    A highlight of the retreat was hearing from Angel Henry, who is so passionate for diversity in the field of IT and beyond. Her knowledge of why women and minorities are often missing from the room helps advance the conversation of inclusion and make real change.

    "Angel brings differing advice for audiences based on age, race, and professional level," recalled Rebecca Bormann, Women & Hi Tech Past President. "Her advice hit home and sparked a great discussion and many women authentically sharing their personal experiences being a woman in STEM."

    Women & Hi Tech was delighted to have a mix of new members, long-time members, college students and STEM professionals join us for the retreat. Thanks again to all who attended.

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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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