• 06/30/2021 5:36 PM | Anonymous

    Network engineer and security analyst Tosin Ajayi became aware of Women & Hi Tech through the IvyWorks program at Ivy Tech Community College. That is where Ajayi worked to earn her Associates Degree of Applied Science in Cyber Security and Information Assurance, as well as a certificate in Digital Forensics, both of which she completed in 2020. “It was always my goal to earn my degrees without taking on any debt, so I was paying out of pocket for my courses. But when the COVID pandemic hit, I ended up losing my job,” she explained. With her sights set on continuing to pursue her Bachelor’s in Cyber Security and Information Assurance at Western Governors University (WGU), she wasn’t sure what would come next, but she didn’t want to compromise on her goal. “I have always believed you should never let even the most unexpected circumstances derail you. You may be blindsided by an event, but once you can look around, there is always another way to achieve your goals.”

    For Ajayi, that next step came in the form of a Women & Hi Tech newsletter calling for Leading Light Awards scholarship applicants. Tosin won the 2020 $10,000 WGU scholarship and was able to seamlessly progress into the pursuit of her bachelor’s degree, which she is on track to achieve in 2022. “Once Women & Hi Tech made that investment in me, I was even more inspired to continue investing my time with them,” she explained. Ajayi has been a volunteer on the Women & Hi Tech communications committee, assisting with social media management and website management.

    Ajayi is passionate about cybersecurity for many reasons. One is the fact that “bad actors are not sleeping. They are always looking for new ways to steal and infiltrate, and that action impacts people. Both companies and individuals need to be continually learning to protect ourselves and those who trust us from threat actors.” She is also inspired by the changes she has seen in the industry. “When I started in 2016, I was worried it would be a challenge just to get an entry-level position. Now, companies are seeing there are capable, passionate women with the ability to help them achieve and exceed cybersecurity goals.”

    Tosin is a mother to two children.  “I now know with confidence that if either of them wants to pursue a career in STEM, they will both have opportunities available to them. I would not hesitate to encourage either of them if that is their interest.” As an immigrant from Nigeria, Tosin hopes to see Women & Hi Tech expand its reach beyond borders. “Women & Hi Tech is going above and beyond in Indiana, but young girls all over the world need support to pursue STEM as a career. I want to see more high school and middle school students, especially girls, engaged in awareness of STEM. If students can have more training earlier, they can grow their skills and start careers out of high school, then learn as they go.”

    “I look forward to how I see the future being reshaped by organizations like Women & Hi Tech,” she concluded. “Diversity is already better than what it used to be, and I now regularly see qualified women being recognized and celebrated for their qualifications. As challenges continue to be dismantled, things will only get better for every professional in STEM fields, and for future generations too.”

  • 06/30/2021 5:35 PM | Anonymous

    As Linda continues in the role of Executive Women’s Forum Director, we took the opportunity to talk with her about transformation that is manifesting in tech higher education, and the tech community in general.

    “What’s changing right now is there is a broader conversation about what it takes to get into IT,” she explained. “We are successfully, finally busting the myth that you have to have a degree in computer science to work in tech. That is being demonstrated through increased opportunity for credentials and certifications, and increased willingness of employers to consider candidates with those achievements.”

    Calvin has seen a shift in corporate attitudes beyond hiring practices. “What I’m also seeing is a greater conversation around more diversity being needed in tech. Now, I don’t know if that conversation itself is manifesting impact. Studies have shown the conversation has been going on for years but nothing is changing practically. Women of color still only hold 4% of the tech jobs in the US. But what is changing is programs being implemented at big tech like Microsoft, Amazon, IBM, and Salesforce to act on these intentions. We can only hope that trend continues and the example trickles down to smaller companies.”

    With that said, Linda does not diminish the value of conversations about the need for diversity, equity, and inclusion. In fact, the ability to lead those conversations is part of why she has stayed committed to a leadership position with Women & Hi Tech. “In the months following the death of George Floyd and in light of other racial injustices of 2020, everyone wanted to enter into the conversation about diversity. But now, just a year later, White support for movements like Black Lives Matter is shown to be lower than it was before Floyd’s death,” Calvin pointed out.

    “These conversations cannot achieve impact when they are only held in moments of heightened awareness and pain. Women & Hi Tech has a duty and an obligation as a leading women’s organization in STEM to keep the message alive and keep the conversation going to truly effect change and make the landscape of STEM inclusive for all women.”

    As she organizes the Executive Women’s Forums, it is Linda’s priority to ensure attendees walk away inspired to act in some way that improves their personal or professional life. This could be as small as a choice to use a blurred background on Zoom for personal security, or as high-level as tools to bring conversation back to their own networks. “We have all attended enough webinars and virtual meetings to last a lifetime during the pandemic. My mission is that our events will not be the ones you multitask through, that they will instead serve as a catalyst and inspiration for some change in each attendee’s life.”

    Calvin also appreciates the opportunity to showcase women in STEM who are leaders in their fields, subject matter experts who are blazing new trails for the future. “We see examples every day of companies that are failing because they don’t have enough diverse perspectives involved in their developments of products, services, and messaging.” She cited local examples like Newfields as well as international examples like Gucci. “As we see more diverse people, especially women, move into positions of power and influence, they don’t just generate more innovation with their perspective, but also share insights that can prevent those lawsuits and lost revenue.”

    Ultimately, Calvin believes events like the Executive Women’s Forum are essential tools for myth-busting about women in STEM, for both employers and young girls and women aspiring to future careers. “These events make visible and reinforce the fact that women CAN be leaders in STEM. In turn, we can then be those that break down artificial constructs that separate people from meaningful success. Because when people can see us, they know they can be us.”

  • 06/10/2021 11:00 AM | Anonymous

    Women & Hi Tech members are invited to the Virtual Women & Hi Tech Annual Meeting of the Members on June 24, 2021 from 11:00 am to 11:30 am, followed by the virtual Executive Women’s Forum: Let’s Talk About Your Cyber Hygiene. During this meeting, we’ll review what we’ve accomplished together over the past year, some plans for the coming year, and provide the opportunity for you to vote to elect the 2021-2022 slate of the Board of Directors of Women & Hi Tech.

    If you plan to attend the Virtual Annual Meeting of the Members and have yet to register, please CLICK HERE TO REGISTER.

    CLICK HERE TO VOTE for the 2021-2022 board slate.  You will be asked to log in to your Women & Hi Tech account before voting.

    Voting will end at 5:00 pm on Tuesday, June 24. Votes received after 5:00 pm EST on June 24, 2021 will not be counted in the official tally for election of the 2021/2022 slate of the Board of Directors. 

    Thank you for being one of almost 2.000 valued members of Women & Hi Tech, and for participating in the Virtual Annual Meeting of the Members. If you have any questions, please contact us at

  • 06/08/2021 12:00 PM | Anonymous

    Members, Sponsors, Volunteers, Supporters, and Friends:

    It’s time to order your Women & Hi Tech gear! Our first-ever Virtual Pop-up Shop is now open for business.

    What’s a virtual pop-up shop?

    • It’s a virtual online shop for Women & Hi Tech that’s only open for a limited time.
    • Our local partner, Tactive, will be hosting the virtual pop-up shop.

    How long do I have to place orders?

    • We've extended the run for the pop-up shop until June 27th

    Where do I shop?

    Where do proceeds go?

    • Proceeds go directly to Women & Hi Tech to continue to advance our mission, “to change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all.”

    When should I expect to receive my order?

    • About a month from the time you order. All orders are processed after the shop closes, then it takes 3-4 weeks for production and shipping before it arrives on your doorstep.

    We can’t wait to see you out and about representing Women & Hi Tech in your new gear!

    Thank you so much for your continued support of Women & Hi Tech and our mission. Because of our dedicated members, sponsors, supporters, friends, and because of YOU, Women & Hi Tech continues to blaze trails for supporting, recognizing, connecting and advancing outstanding women and girls pursuing STEM fields in Indiana.

  • 05/29/2021 4:02 PM | Anonymous

    Dear Members, Sponsors, Volunteers, Supporters and Friends,

    I am so happy to start summer! And so glad for warmer weather and outside activities. With vaccinations providing what may be an end to the pandemic, we are excited to be moving towards in person events. Women & Hi Tech’s inaugural Multicultural Celebration is almost here. We invite you to join us on the evening of June 9, 2021 from 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm (EST) at the Indiana State Museum Great Hall in downtown Indianapolis. We created this signature event to celebrate and appreciate the unity, authenticity, and cultural diversity imbued by the collective body of women in STEM that enhances, enriches, and empowers our local community and statewide STEM landscape to grow a pipeline of female talent driving innovation in Indiana. This evening will celebrate the array of cultures represented in the Indiana STEM community and showcase the diverse connections represented within Women & Hi Tech. Our celebration will feature culturally diverse hors d'oeuvres and dinner, networking with other STEM professionals, and honoring the Health and Science Innovations High School STEM Summer Camp award recipients. We will also dance and enjoy festive tunes from the live band, Chamber Music. If you have not already done so, there are still tickets available, we would love to see you there. Purchase your tickets at

    If you have a goal to do some summer reading, consider joining our Virtual Book Club. The June book is Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi. It’s not too late to grab a copy of the book and register to join us on Monday, June 21, 2021 from 6-7 pm for the Book Club Discussion.

    Finally, our Executive Women’s Forum Director, Linda Calvin, is busy preparing for our next event to be held June 24, 2021 from 11-1 pm. The title is “Let’s Talk About Your Cyber Hygiene”. A panel of cybersecurity experts will help us learn about big recent cybersecurity events, the implications, and how you can improve your cyber hygiene report card. According to recent reports, cybercrime has increased every year as people try to benefit from vulnerable business systems. Remember, the Colonial Pipeline attack from just a few weeks ago that resulted in empty gas stations across the southeast? While IT security professionals deal with cyber risks every day, most individual users do not perceive this as a big problem. But we all have a role to play in cyber security and we invite you to join us for this valuable discussion.  This event is FREE for everyone to attend, but you must register to claim your ticket.  

    The June Executive Women’s Forum topic is a perfect lead in for our 28th edition of "Grown from STEM" focused on Information Technology. IT has become such an integral part of our everyday lives, even more so during this pandemic, as we switched to working and shopping via the internet and virtual meetings, doctor appointments, family reunions and happy hours. For me it has become an IT overload. At church this past weekend we received a challenge from our minister to spend the month of June simply walking – with nothing playing in our ears or carrying a cell phone. Simply walk, reflect, and enjoy your surroundings.

    There was a recent article in the Wall Street Journal that indicated relying solely on digital information for decision making, without face to face information gathering, can lead to big strategy mistakes. The article shared a great story about Lego who relied on information that suggested the “electronic generation” wanted instant gratification so they started making larger blocks/kits that could be completed quickly. Sales tanked. Then they heard from a young boy who gave them feedback that working at something tedious and seeing your accomplishment come to life was actually fun. So, they switched their strategy to make intricate kits with smaller pieces. Lego is now the largest toy company in sales in the world.

    I think the pandemic has taught us how important balance is. Mark Twain said, “Too much of anything is bad, but too much good whiskey is barely enough.” (although, I think I can confirm that too much bourbon is bad). What I love about our two featured IT professionals, Darcy Lee and Rajinder Heir, is that they couple their passion for IT, virtual and digital with an appreciation for personal connections and relationships. These two do not sit behind a computer all day. Their “balance” is really an inspiration as they navigate successful IT careers while serving their families and the community. Darcy is a past President and Active Emeritus board member of Women & Hi Tech and the COO of AIS. Rajinder is an Emeritus Board Member of Women & Hi Tech and the CTO of the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. Both ladies are quite accomplished in their respective fields but are also strong advocates for improving diversity in STEM and being role models for young STEM professionals. That’s what I love – they keep our IT infrastructure humming, and at the same time they are out in our STEM community building relationships, mentoring, networking and asking how they can help. I hope you enjoy hearing more about their accomplishments and what drives them.

    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 Rising Star recipient, Shilpi Bhargav. Shilpi is the Global Head of Requirements Modeling at Roche Diabetes Group, where she has transformed her team’s global documentation system and quickly risen to a leadership role. While pursuing her Master’s in Biology at IUPUI she was also instrumental in Project Lead the Way, a program dedicated to retaining STEM students and reducing Indiana’s brain drain. Please watch this segment of the 2020 Virtual LLAs to learn more about what fuels Shilpi’s passion and drive for equality for all in the STEM fields and beyond. Again, congratulations Shilpi!


    Linda M. Hicks
    Women & Hi Tech President Elect

  • 05/29/2021 4:01 PM | Anonymous

    Since we last profiled her in 2019, Darcy Lee has made a career transition into IT executive leadership. As the COO of AIS, Lee is responsible for corporate process oversight and development and implementation of strategic goals. “Although I still support sales, my main focus is on performance, process, and making sure we are all working toward a common goal,” she explained. “We know where we want to go, but we also need to measure where we are and how we get there.” Part of this depends on making sure each member of the team is provided an opportunity to use their unique gifts and talents. “At our core we believe in people,” Lee said. “We talk about AIS as standing for ‘all in to serve.’” That mantra applies to internal culture as well as the company’s approach to client service.

    “We have to consistently see beyond where our clients see and help them excel,” Lee explained. AIS is an IT Managed Services Provider (MSP) that is passionate about optimizing business process, productivity, culture, and customer and employee experiences through the strategic adoption of digital technologies. “We don’t just look at organizations as clients or potential clients in a closed system, but also seek to understand how these companies are connected to their employees, clients and communities.”

    The company’s perspective on IT as a service requires a commitment to diversity that is built in from the top down. “Our company is built, by design, to include diverse perspectives,” Darcy said. That commitment starts with race and ethnicity, but is extended to employees’ backgrounds, perspectives, and life experiences. As the only woman on the company’s executive team, Lee has felt the power of full inclusion on a daily basis. “Our CEO, Lamont Hatcher, very much understands the importance of women in executive positions, both from a financial/profitability perspective and from a diversity perspective. He values and appreciates my input and leadership. Even when our opinions differ, I know I’m heard and seen.”

    Lee shared that AIS became especially essential during the pandemic as many organizations realized the value and necessity of information technology. “Suddenly many departments at almost every company were asking for IT solutions, instead of perhaps looking at IT as a burden to be dealt with. COVID had a profound impact because it made the services we offer more desirable and more visible. In Indianapolis especially, when you hear tech, you might think of software as a service (SaaS). We sit on the infrastructure side, which is the essential backbone to making those products function.” She cited automation, cloud migration and optimization, and data security as three areas where support has been in high demand. “When companies need multiple systems or applications to talk to one another to move their business forward, that functionality needs to be designed and implemented, supported by strong infrastructure, and secure.”

    In addition to helping AIS achieve internal and external goals through strategic process alignment, Darcy has been using similar strengths to support the Women & Hi Tech board as an Active Emeritus. “As a former President and someone who’s passionate about our mission, it’s admittedly hard to let go and take a step back. We have come so far but there is still so much to be done. Over time, my goal is to focus my efforts on supporting others in their roles and working on long-term initiatives that can expand and strengthen our impact,” she explained. Since Women & Hi Tech has an all-volunteer Board of Directors, there is always an area of focus that can be supported. “Large initiatives like expanding our footprint to support more women in STEM and attract more girls to STEM fields across the state take time. We also need to ensure we are listening to our members to understand their needs. Our active Board members already dedicate so much time to the organization in their specific roles and there isn’t always enough time to do the “more” we want to do, so this is where I feel I can be the greatest benefit to the organization.”

    Lee considers this focus on growth in alignment with the desires of members an essential part of Women & Hi Tech’s mission. “I want members to feel supported, inspired, and encouraged. Above all else I see Women & Hi Tech as a support network.” She also wants each member to become better-connected to their own individual ability to effect change. This applies to both men and women. “I would love to see more men as members,” she shared. “We can’t just talk to ourselves (women) and expect the necessary change to happen. We have to include men in the conversation.” Additionally, she added, “For women to truly be supported to be successful, we have to pivot our understanding of what success looks like, and I think the pandemic has made that possible. Women carry a lot of responsibility outside of work and as they come up in their careers need more flexibility. As a society we now recognize that the day-to-day demands on our time are different for every person, and that success can still be achieved without a rigid adherence to a 9-5.” She concluded by observing that an essential part of diversity, equity, and inclusion is recognizing people for who they are—including their unique needs. “People don’t fit into boxes. And so when you allow that, and have less rigidity around the concept of what success has to look like, people can be happier and more productive. We can model what success looks like differently for the next generation.”

  • 05/29/2021 4:00 PM | Anonymous

    Since our last profile of Rajinder Heir, she has taken on the position of Chief Technology Officer at the Indiana Commission for Higher Education. While this isn’t her first role in the C-suite, it is the first time she’s had to get acquainted with her new team while working remotely. “Since our platforms are accessed remotely to begin with, the needs of our users didn’t shift with the pandemic. But it was a new experience to get to know my team and stakeholders while we were all adjusting to those changes.”

    The technology provided by the Indiana Commission for Higher Education (“Commission”) serves various stakeholders including students, parents, schools and higher education institutions. One key platform takes students through the process of applying for and maintaining state financial aid while another maintains a repository of academic programs and much more. “We are working on a modernization initiative I am eager to see come to fruition. The finish line is in sight!” Heir explained.

    She is also gratified that her keen interest in cybersecurity is an asset in her new role. Rajinder serves on two committees on the Indiana Executive Council on Cybersecurity and has written a diverse range of cybersecurity policies in the last couple of years. These include encryption key management, server hardening, wireless security management, and data classification, among others. “In college classes I enjoyed technical writing so I thoroughly enjoyed working on those policies. It was a good interplay of my natural ability and professional interest,” she said with enthusiasm.

    In her role as CTO, Heir applies her existing skills while continuing to grow and learn new strategies. She shared that the Commission has been a longtime proponent of increasing STEM degree completions in Indiana and has also focused on educational equity for many years; there is a natural crossover of both priorities broadening the diversity of the workforce at the Commission. “My experience tells me it is important for any organization that its products and services be designed with an empathy-first approach. To do so, talented design teams deliver best when they reflect the customer base.”

    As an emeritus board member of Women & Hi Tech, Rajinder is encouraged by the potential of the organization to inspire women through shared stories. “I want people to attend our events and walk away with actionable a-ha moments. Our Executive Women’s Forums provide exactly that. I also want people to come into Women & Hi Tech at the start of their career and find a soft place to land, to meet accomplished women in sectors such as IT, energy, life sciences, and engineering.” She added that in her view attracting male participation is an essential part of amplifying the organization’s message. “While we may reach male allies in high profile executive roles, it is pivotal to gain buy-in from aspiring leaders to cultivate talent pools. I’ve interviewed and worked with my share of network engineers,” she continued. “Almost none of them women. We are inching closer to the days of wider qualified candidate pools. My hat goes off to those men who attend our events and embrace our mission. Bring a co-worker!”

    Asked what advice she would offer to young women who aspire to be executives in STEM, Rajinder spoke to gaining a variety of experiences as a foundation. “For me that came in various forms: high tech startup, public sector, insurance, telecoms, nonprofit and consulting.  All of which enriched my IT career and led me to C-suite opportunities. For those starting a career in IT, I advocate for a stint in the public sector or the nonprofit world. I continue to be supportive of Women & Hi Tech, because it’s the best venue to see a snapshot of such journeys.”

  • 05/17/2021 10:44 AM | Deleted user

    Women & Hi Tech is thrilled to share that June 9, 2021 marks our slow return to hosting in-person events for Indiana’s STEM community. Our inaugural Multicultural Celebration will be held at the Indiana State Museum from 6-10 pm (EST). What should be expected from this event, and why do we intend to host it biennially or every other year? Let’s explore more of the story.

    Why a Multicultural Celebration?

    The idea for this event was conceived before the pandemic, when the leadership of Women & Hi Tech was gathered to debrief after the board completed the Interrupting Racism for Our Child training by Child Advocates of Indiana. We discussed the amazing-yet-uncelebrated diversity in the collective body of women in STEM in this state and specifically, Indianapolis, including Women & Hi Tech’s own membership. We conceived of an event that would elevate and celebrate the uniqueness, authenticity, and individuality that each of us brings to the table.

    Then, the pandemic hit.  Facing uncertainty, the Women & Hi Tech committee kept planning, knowing that one day this event would be realized. The incidents of 2020 only served to illuminate and make more painfully clear the inequity and divisiveness that manifests due to a lack of appreciation for diversity and multicultural people and perspectives in America. So, we announced and organized this event knowing that it is likely needed now more than ever.  

    “The beauty of diversity and multiculturalism is allowing differences to enhance our life,” said Women & Hi Tech President and planning committee member, Rebecca Bormann. “It’s crazy to me that we let all the cool things about who we are separate us, when they are what should bring us together to learn and grow. We should celebrate each other and if no one else is going to, Women & Hi Tech is.” Bormann concluded by acknowledging that it is not by accident that this event will reflect the beauty of diversity in the art, music, and food provided or that it was planned as the inaugural return to in-person gatherings for the organization post-pandemic.  “We felt like our community needs this at this time.”

    Women & Hi Tech 2021 Multicultural Celebration

    Women & Hi Tech’s inaugural Multicultural Celebration will take place on the evening of June 9, 2021 from 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm (EST) at the Indiana State Museum Great Hall in downtown Indianapolis (650 W. Washington St. Indianapolis, IN 46204).

    The Great Hall at the Indiana State Museum is an indoor space that connects to an amazing outdoor space on the White River Canal. Inside the Great Hall, our celebration will feature culturally-diverse hors d'oeuvres and dinner, networking with other STEM professionals, and honoring the Health and Science Innovations High School STEM Summer Camp award recipients. We will also dance and enjoy festive tunes from the live band, Chamber Music.

    Women & Hi Tech is also pleased to announce that a new cultural exhibit – “Response: Images and Sounds of a Movement” - will be showing in the Legacy Theatre of the Great Hall during our event.  Thanks to the Indiana State Museum and the creatives whose works are featured for our appreciation.  We are ecstatic to have these visual expressions from local artists infused into the ambiance and celebratory nature of the Multicultural Celebration at no additional charge.  To learn more, see

    Registration for the event is $50 for members and $75 for non-members, which includes food, art, and music entertainment.  Your registration also includes two beverage tickets, including Women & Hi Tech’s signature celebration cocktail - The Juneteenth Jubilee. A cash bar will be available.

    Visit our events page for more information about parking, our COVID guidelines, and how to purchase your tickets today! We can’t wait to see you there and celebrate the amazing person you are.

  • 04/30/2021 8:02 PM | Anonymous

    Dear Members, Sponsors, Volunteers, Supporters and Friends,

    Time is flying by this spring; I can hardly believe we are at the end of April already! This was a busy month for Women & Hi Tech as we hosted our second Executive Women’s Forum (EWF) of 2021, titled, S.T.E.M. – The “E” is for Entrepreneurship! During this inspiring, informative and authentic discussion our EWF Director, Linda Calvin moderated for our esteemed panel of entrepreneurs and executives turned entrepreneurs. Our panelists, Kristen Cooper, Irma Mesa, Joy E. Mason and Daryle Johnson shared with us their journeys to entrepreneurship and many of the lessons they’ve learned along the way. Don’t worry if you missed this virtual event or want to review the lessons shared from our entrepreneurs we’ll have a recording of the event available soon on our YouTube channel.

    Women & Hi Tech was also delighted to participate in a community virtual event titled, All IT Community Meeting, in collaboration with the Indy CIO Network, IT Leaders Indianapolis and the Society for Information Management (SIM) Indy. During this meeting, our moderator, Stefanie Krievins, lead a discussion on the topic of resiliency with an exceptional panel of Indiana IT leaders including, You can watch the recording of the event online.  

    Women & Hi Tech has also been busy planning our first in person event since the onset of the pandemic, the Women & Hi Tech Multicultural Celebration. We created this inaugural, signature event to celebrate and appreciate the unity, authenticity, and cultural diversity imbued by the collective body of women in STEM that enhances, enriches, and empowers our local community and statewide STEM landscape to grow a pipeline of female talent driving innovation in Indiana. We invite you to join us on the evening of June 9, 2021 from 6:00 pm – 10:00 pm (EST) at the Indiana State Museum Great Hall in downtown Indianapolis. This evening will celebrate the array of cultures represented in the Indiana STEM community and showcase the diverse connections represented within Women & Hi Tech. Our celebration will feature culturally diverse hors d'oeuvres and dinner, networking with other STEM professionals, and honoring the Health and Science Innovations High School STEM Summer Camp award recipients. We will also dance and enjoy festive tunes from the live band, Chamber Music. Purchase your tickets now.

    Also, if you haven’t heard Women & Hi Tech’s Virtual Book Club chose, Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi for our quarter two book. It’s not to late to grab a copy of the book and register for this virtual book club to be held on Monday, June 21, 2021

    And, we recently extended the application deadline to apply for a position on our Board of Directors until May 12, 2021. We are looking for candidates who are actively engaged with the organization, and will bring wisdom, experience, effectiveness, candor, and creative thinking. We are passionate about our organization and the meaningful work we do and are looking for like-minded individuals. We do not take the term “working board” lightly. At any given time, a Director is leading her/his own area of responsibility while also contributing to other areas of the organization, including serving on committees, participating in Women & Hi Tech events, and representing Women & Hi Tech in the community.  Click here to learn more and apply online.

    In our 27th edition of "Grown from STEM" we are excited to be featuring Women & Hi Tech Treasurer, Ben Phillips and our dedicated member and male ally, Cody Rivers. Both Phillips and Rivers are highly accomplished in their respective disciplines and share how their unique paths and careers have led to their success and passion for tech and allyship for women in STEM. Phillips and Rivers are champions for diversity, equity, and inclusion, particularly for women in STEM, in their careers, volunteerism, and personal lives. Please read more about Philips and Rivers and how their backgrounds, STEM expertise, and passion for equity and inclusion for girls and 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 Risk Taker Award recipient, Teresa Plummer. Teresa has been integral to the success of the Sallie Mae technology department for over fourteen years. She has worked her way from Program Manager to Director of IT Governance and Delivery Services. Leading the company’s Agile transformation, she purposefully did not implement hard and fast rules but designed a process that, given a chance, would evolve over time; trusting people to do what is right. Please watch this segment of the 2020 Virtual LLAs to learn more about what fuels Teresa's passion and drive for equality for all in the STEM fields and beyond. Again, Congratulations Teresa!

    Best Regards,

    Rebecca Bormann
    Women & Hi Tech President

  • 04/30/2021 8:01 PM | Anonymous

    In our last profile of Women & Hi Tech Treasurer Ben Phillips, we introduced you to his professional background, his role as a Director in the Audit & Assurance Practice at Katz, Sapper & Miller (KSM) specializing in audits related to IT Security and Internal Controls, and his perspective on the importance of male allyship. This year, we were excited to catch up with him about how his continuing experiences with Women & Hi Tech have benefitted him, especially in the context of major events that have transpired in between these conversations.

    “In this world where most continue to work remotely or in a hybrid-environment for the time being, it is more important than ever to take steps and intentionally connect with coworkers outside of just talking about work,” Phillips observed. “Those connections used to manifest normally. You might end up in the break room getting coffee at the same time as someone from a different department and find a chance to check in and catch up. Now, work is more like getting on a Zoom for 30 minutes with the same groups of people.”

    He described one innovation taking place at KSM, a practice called Coffee Chats where random groups of four are periodically organized into virtual breakout meetings to meet, share what’s going on in life, and talk about whatever comes up. “It’s a way we can still celebrate everything from someone getting a new puppy, to someone achieving a career or life milestone we might otherwise have never learned about since we’re all working at a distance.”

    Ben shared that he has been happy to see the same intentionality in the events hosted by Women & Hi Tech. “From one-on-one meetings to big Executive Women’s Forums that are great for learning and networking, one of our focus areas right now is to be a place where members can find human connection on any given day.” One new event he especially celebrated is the organization’s innovation of Clickside Chats. “These more relaxed events are great because they don’t have to be explicitly focused on our mission of changing the landscape of women represented in STEM,” he said. “They are free to be conversations about topics like job interviews, professional development, or self-care, that are hosted and attended by people who are representative of and in support of our mission.”

    “I remain committed to volunteering with Women & Hi Tech because the organization takes steps like these to live its truth as an advocate, rather than just hold itself up as an example without doing the real work,” Phillips shared.

    He says the same principle is true of the organization’s commitment to Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion, now fully-established in its mission statement and permanently integrated in the infrastructure with the addition of the Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion Director board position. “It’s like finance—unless you have a treasurer and finance committee, who is holding the organization accountable to the targets? The Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion mindset used to be embedded across a few roles on the Board and it will remain a focus for the entire Board. Now we will have one committed Director keeping us accountable and tracking our growth with even more tangible metrics.”

    Overall, Ben observed that the pandemic and resulting cultural changes served to escalate intentionality across many sectors, including male allyship and allyship to diverse people. “To have any sort of intentional ally relationship, you have to have a willing recipient on the other side, and that takes a lot of trust, humility, and vulnerability, first and foremost from the person in the position of privilege. You can’t just sit someone down in a Zoom meeting, or even an in-person meeting, and say, ‘I want to be your ally,’” he said with a candid laugh. “All you can do is show up as a steward and advocate as a matter of habit, and express that you are trying to live and behave with more intentional inclusion. Then, you have to hope that intention resonates, and it may resonate differently with each individual. Becoming a person’s ally is as simple, and as complex, as becoming a friend.” He added that being an ally for just one female, or one diverse person, doesn’t make you an ally to all. “Wherever we each are in the world, city, or state, our experiences are our own and we may or may not choose to share them depending on each relationship we develop.”

    Ben says one key for every member of Women & Hi Tech to meet and forge relationships with the right allies and peers to support their growth is for sponsors and even non-members to continue maximizing the value of the organization. “Every sponsorship comes with a certain number of memberships that are available to all employees of those companies, and the more robust your sponsorship, the better value you are getting on each individual membership from a cost perspective.” He encourages every sponsor to communicate and check in with Women & Hi Tech about how their employees are finding value in the organization. But at the same time, he acknowledges that employees are just as busy now as they ever were.

    “That’s one reason that right now, so many of our events are free to the public. Even if someone never intends to become a member, individually or through a corporate sponsorship, we still want to be available to them as a resource they can use to learn, grow, and connect with others.” To Phillips, this is just about paying the value forward. “My involvement with this organization means I am learning quicker than I usually would in my own silo. And that is our goal for every person who is interested in the programming we deliver and the mission we are advancing to make STEM equally inclusive to all.”

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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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