• 10/24/2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    When Women & Hi Tech was founded over 20 years ago, one of the organization’s primary missions was to recognize and elevate outstanding STEM females. It hosted its first award ceremony, then called the Spotlight Awards, in 2000. Members in attendance at that beautiful event, hosted at the Indianapolis Zoo Dolphin Pavilion, could never have imagined how the 20th Anniversary of the Leading Light Awards would take shape.

    Coronavirus pandemic. Working in pajamas for months. And a national crusade for gender and racial equality that feels almost identical to the landscape of decades past. Did any of us see 2020 coming?

    But the leadership and members of Women & Hi Tech were not thwarted by these challenges. Instead Women & Hi Tech’s members, sponsors, Leading Light Awards Committee, and Board of Directors rolled up their sleeves to pull off the changes and efforts necessary to still have a memorable and noteworthy event. The result was a stunning virtual event that continues to recognize and support female STEM excellence and new this year Indiana diversity, equity and inclusion champions and male allies.

    Indiana Women In STEM Organization

    This year, there were over 150 nominees for the awards, grants, and scholarships that define the Leading Light Awards and Scholarship Gala as a premier event celebrating Indiana’s STEM community. All these nominees represent the amazing STEM innovation that has helped Indiana endure and thrive during the pandemic and other challenges of the year.

    “I think most of us would agree so many things about this year have been unexpected,” said Lauryn Andrews, Leading Light Awards Director. “And yet when I think about 2020, the words that come to mind are hope, inspiration, and change. Though we can’t be together in person, it’s never been more apparent that we are in this together.”

    Women & Hi Tech recognized outstanding STEM professionals with its esteemed Leading Light Awards and was able to award over $50,000 in grants and scholarships to develop the female STEM talent of the future.

    New 2020 Women & Hi Tech Indiana STEM Scholarships

    Women & Hi Tech is continually gratified to have the amazing support of so many community and scholarship sponsors across Indiana’s STEM community. “Your continued generosity and support make a difference for female STEM professionals, K-12 students, and collegiate young ladies,” Board President Rebecca Bormann reminded these sponsors and members during the Leading Light Awards. “Thank you for allowing us to advance our mission.”

    In addition to the fifteen scholarships that were awarded this year, 2020 marked the inaugural awarding of the Rare Nickel Scholarship. This $5000 scholarship celebrates the first five women who received Spotlight Awards in 2000: Laura Larimer, Dr. Catherine Olmer, Dr. Elcira Villarreal, Carol Curran, and Amy Conrad Warner. Each year it is awarded, this scholarship will continue their legacy of paving the way for future generations of female STEM leaders in Indiana. The first recipient of this new Rare Nickle Scholarship was Marielle Berin, BS Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University.

    Women & Hi Tech also introduced the #INThisTogether Scholarship, its first member-funded scholarship. Over $3000 was awarded to LaJoi Robinson, MS Information and Communication Science, Ball State University.

    Girls STEM Education Scholarships in Indiana

    In addition to these new STEM scholarships for women and girls, Women & Hi Tech also awarded tens of thousands of dollars through established Women & Hi Tech scholarships and sponsor generosity:

    $5,000 Top Graduate Student Scholarship:

    Taymee Brandon, PhD Environmental Engineering, Purdue University

    $5,000 Top Undergraduate Student Scholarship:

    My “Alice” Dang, BS Mechanical Engineering, Anderson University

    $5,000 Top High School Senior Scholarship:

    Doonyah Alucozai, BS Computer Information Technology, Purdue University

    $5,000 Professional Development Grant:

    Soma Mukhopadhyay, Biotechnology Quality & Regulatory Compliance Graduate Certificate, Purdue University

    $10,000 WGU Indiana Scholarship:

    Tosin Ajayi, BS Cybersecurity and Information Assurance

    $2,500 SIM Indy Technology Graduate Student Scholarship:

    Jennifer Fleming, MS Informatics, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

    $2,500 SIM Indy Technology Undergraduate Student Scholarship:

    Jordyn Blakey, BS Computer Science, DePauw University

    $2,500 Ivy Tech Scholarship:

    Fatimah Omotoso, AS Biology, Ivy Tech Indianapolis

    $2,500 Ivy Tech Scholarship:

    Eunice Macharia, AS Database Development and Administration, Ivy Tech Fort Wayne

    $2,500 Bell Techlogix High School Senior Scholarship:

    Yukthika Sajja, BS Cybersecurity, Purdue University

    $2,500 Sallie Mae High School Senior Scholarship:

    Kehinde “Bomi” Anifowose, BS Biology, Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis

    $2,000 Barnes & Thornburg LLP Patent/Corporate Law Scholarship:

    Richa Patel, JD Patent Law, Indiana University Maurer School of Law

    $2,000 Verizon Technology Scholarship:

    Amanda Goodridge, MS Cybersecurity Risk Management, Indiana University Bloomington

    Startup Ladies Membership Grant (valued at $600):

    Andre'a Crowder

    Startup Ladies Membership Grant (valued at $600):

    Anelis Susana Chiluisa Calvache

    It was deeply important to Women & Hi Tech’s Board of Directors, members, and awards judges that the nominees and winners represent the diversity in Indiana’s STEM community, and that these awards extend outside Central Indiana to advance STEM in all corners of our state.

    Leading Light Awards for STEM Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Promote Minorities in STEM

    The theme of the 2020 Leading Light Awards was Equity and Inclusion. This theme was recognized with the establishment of two new awards that elevate and encourage organizations to make STEM more inclusive to all. “We need the diversity in STEM roles to reflect the diversity in our community,” said emcee Sara Jones of WTHR Channel 13News.

    • One new Leading Light Award established this year was the Women & Hi Tech Equity and Inclusion Champion Leading Light Award. The organization named both an honorary and inaugural winner of this award. Honorary winner was Angela B. Freeman, M.S., J.D., Intellectual Property/Patent Attorney at Barnes & Thornburg LLP. This honor was bestowed for her many contributions to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion, including spearheading many of the major advancements for diverse women within Women & Hi Tech, as well as throughout her career and personal life.
    • The inaugural winner of the Equity and Inclusion Champion Leading Light Award was Erica Diebold, Senior Intellectual Property Manager at Roche Diabetes Care, Inc. She received this award after building increased allyship for women and members of the LGBTQ+ community at Roche and in the local community, including developing allyship training.

    A second new Leading Light Award was the OperationALL™ Male Allies Leading Light Award, again with both honorary and inaugural winners.

    • The honorary winner of this award was Gerry Dick, Founder and CEO of Inside INdiana Business. This honor was bestowed for his lifelong commitment and allyship to Women & Hi Tech and promoting women and girls in STEM in Indiana.
    • The inaugural winner of OperationALL™ Male Allies Leading Light Award was Lamont Hatcher, the CEO of AIS. Outside his involvement with Women & Hi Tech, he serves on the board for both Greater Indy Habitat for Humanity and Morning Light, Inc. He also mentors women in technology and young African American men through 100 Black Men.

    As some awards were created, another sponsored award came to an end. Toni Hickey, J.D., Deputy General Counsel and Chief IP Counsel of Cummins, Inc., was awarded the final Barnes & Thornburg LLP Hi Tech Woman of the Year Leading Light Award for her exemplary leadership and her commitment to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion for all in the STEM and legal communities.

    Watch The Full Leading Light Awards and Celebrate STEM Females in Indiana

    Witness and honor the excellence of Indiana’s STEM community for yourself by watching the full Leading Light Awards 2020 event on YouTube.

    To all the sponsors and virtual attendees, Women & Hi Tech offers their sincerest thanks and appreciation. Changing the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all is a mission that takes time and concrete effort that would not be possible without each of your support. They would especially like to thank Fuel V+M and The Momentum GROUP, the marketing and videography firms that helped create the first-ever virtual LLAs.

    And to the award, grant, and scholarship winners, Women & Hi Tech also says thank you, for the work and dedication you put forward every day to make the Indiana STEM community such an incredible place to learn, grow, and belong. We are truly in this together, and it’s a great place to be.

    2020 Leading Light Award Winners

    Honorary Equity and Inclusion Champion Award

    Angela B. Freeman, M.S., J.D., Senior Associate Intellectual Property (IP)/Patent Attorney, Barnes & Thornburg LLP

    Inaugural Equity and Inclusion Champion Award

    Erica Diebold, Senior Intellectual Property Manager | Diabetes Care Patents, Roche Diabetes Care, Inc.

    Honorary OperationALL™ Male Allies Champion Award

    Gerry Dick, Host and Creator of Inside INdiana Business

    Inaugural OperationALL™ Male Allies Champion Award

    Lamont Hatcher, Founder and CEO of AIS

    Mentor Me! Award

    Heather Jones, Group Leader - Fermentation Development and Media Preparation Labs, Corteva Agriscience

    Leadership Award

    Christine McDonnell, Co-Founder & CEO, Codelicious

    Risk Taker Award

    Teresa Plummer, Director, IT Governance and Delivery Services, Sallie Mae

    Rising Star Award

    Shilpi Bhargav, Global Head of Requirements Modeling Group, Roche Diabetes Care, Inc

    You Inspire Us! Award

    Rupal Thanawala, Tech Editor, Indianapolis Recorder

    Outstanding Educator in STEM Award

    Keeanna Warren, Principal, Purdue Polytechnic High School North

    Outstanding Achievement in STEM Award

    Mary Lee Gambone, Head of Materials Engineering, Rolls-Royce North America

    Change the Landscape Award

    Audrey Taylor, CEO, netlogx

    Barnes & Thornburg Hi Tech Woman of the Year Award

    Toni Hickey, J.D., Deputy General Counsel & Chief IP Counsel, Cummins, Inc.

  • 09/28/2020 8:02 AM | Anonymous

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

    The United States Patent and Trademark's Office's (USPTO) 2019 Progress and Potential Report indicated in the US that the rise in women named inventors on patents has been exceedingly slow, 13% in 1995 growing to only 16% in 2016. The report also indicates that the proportion of inventors who are women remains below the proportion of science and engineering jobs held by women, suggesting the low "women inventor rates" are not merely the result of gender-based discrepancies in STEM education. There is no conclusive data indicating why this is the case; it may be due to fewer women having inventive activity, institutional or industrial failures to acknowledge the innovative activity of women, or gender bias among patent examiners. Regardless of the reason, the data from the USPTO is another piece of evidence indicating women STEM professionals have ground to make up. This is why Women & Hi Tech's mission to change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all is so relevant.

    We are proud to publish our "Grown from STEM" monthly newsletter highlighting the Women & Hi Tech Board and members who are, in fact, changing the landscape in their profession in meaningful and positive ways. This month's newsletter focuses on Intellectual Property (IP). IP is an important focus area because it is an integral part of a STEM professional's work, no matter the industry or career path. STEM professionals are routinely creating something inventive, maintaining inventive work, or as highlighted in this newsletter, protecting the innovative work of others. This month we feature two amazing IP professionals, Angela B. Freeman M.S., J.D., Past President of Women & Hi Tech and Intellectual Property/Patent Attorney at Barnes & Thornburg, LLP, and Jordan Downham J.D., an IP Attorney at Quarles and Brady, LLP specializing in trademark and copyright law. After you read their profiles, you will agree, they are undoubtedly changing the landscape for us all!

    As for myself, an engineer and a leader of technology organizations, IP management is an essential part of my role and the most fun. To prepare for this newsletter introduction, I had the opportunity to benchmark with Deborah Pollack-Milgate J.D., a former Women & Hi Tech President and an IP Litigation Attorney and Partner at Barnes & Thornburg, LLP, who I highly admire. I am excited to share with our readers Deborah's perspective on why she finds IP work so rewarding, challenges that still exist for women in IP management, and how the landscape has changed throughout her years of IP practice.

    Deborah's view on why she finds her career so rewarding perfectly aligns with why I describe IP as fun. She indicates the most rewarding part of her role is having the opportunity to learn about so many different technologies and how each person's unique contribution creates new products and innovations. It never gets old for her. This sentiment is echoed by Jordan, who indicates that the problem solving that exists in IP management makes the work extremely fulfilling.

    Concerning the landscape - Deborah indicated she does not think that women in IP are differently situated from other women in predominantly male fields of work. "I have encountered my share of sexist behavior over the years, particularly from my male opponents in litigation. The stakes are high in patent litigation, so the tactics are sometimes brutal. I have kept a list of names I have been called over the years that you almost have to see to believe. Once, when a man apologized after a deposition in which a colleague of his had made several sexist comments, he then proceeded to describe to me that he was sitting in his dark office, all alone, watching a woman swaying outside his window. These are surreal experiences – and yet they happen. A woman, when present in a group of men, is rarely a neutral presence, in my experience. She is the presence of the "other" which may be highlighted, or praised, but also sidelined and ignored," Deborah explained. This ties in with the message captured within the accompanying profile on Angela B. Freeman. Angela is an advocate for increasing the percentage of all women in STEM to create a better landscape. And she stresses that racial diversity is also vitally important to achieving the inclusivity we seek.

    Deborah's summary hits the mark, "It is critical to have a group of women – or several of them -- looking out for you. Women and Hi Tech is a fantastic organization that reminds each of us we matter, and we are not fighting these battles alone." Deborah and I also agree on this final point; we need to share candidly, not only with women but also with men. When we do this, we find the connections we need to lead us back to ourselves and our success.

    In this 21st edition of "Grown from STEM," Women & Hi Tech would like to invite you to learn more about our Past President, Angela B. Freeman, M.S., J.D. We are also excited to introduce you to a dedicated member, Jordan Downham J.D. Each of these women continues to blaze trails in their careers while being strong advocates for others and advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion in the STEM fields. In their profiles, Angela and Jordan both shared candid comments about their journeys and provided us a moment of honesty to help us all consider what we can do to encourage each other. We can work together to change the landscape, no matter our chosen STEM field. Please read more about Angela and Jordan.


    Linda M. Hicks
    President-Elect Women & Hi Tech
    Vice President Midwest Operation, ECC Horizons

  • 09/28/2020 8:01 AM | Anonymous

    As Angela Freeman completes her tenure as Past President and prepares to leave the Women & Hi Tech board of directors, she looks back over the trail she has blazed over the past 7 years beginning as Networking Director with a mix of confidence and hope. “When I set out as the first African American president of this organization, I had lots of goals related to diversity. I wanted to increase the diversity of judges, applicants, and award recipients for our amazing scholarships. I wanted to attract a more diverse STEM population to become our members. And I wanted to see our board become more diverse.”

    At the time she assumed the three-year commitment of becoming Women & Hi Tech’s President, Freeman was seriously considering leaving the board. “You don’t have influence and make change in an organization because you love things the way they are. You do it because you see what can be and the higher heights there are to reach,” she said of her decision to stay on the board and assume leadership. “Me going into Women & Hi Tech leadership was really a function of the mentorship, championship, encouragement, and coaching I received from organization leaders who convinced me that the organization could benefit from my leadership, particularly at that time.”

    So, Angela took on the challenge, as she really believed that the board was at a point where they were willing to make some changes. Using her legal expertise, Angela spearheaded overdue revisions to the organization’s bylaws, policies, and infrastructure related to evaluating and assessing board service. Angela also chaired the historical Women & Hi Tech 20th Anniversary Celebration Event in 2019. Importantly, as Women & Hi Tech’s first diverse President, Freeman achieved all of her goals, drastically increasing the organization’s diversity in race, creed, gender identity, and STEM profession from scholarship applicants and new members all the way to the leadership represented in the board room.

    Now, what she wants is to see those goals become foundational until they are obsolete. “What I hope to see is the normalization of diversity, equity, and inclusion. For it to be built in, not an exception to the rule or a blip on the radar. Intentionally trying to increase diversity within and external to the organization must be an expectation of every Women & Hi Tech president and leader moving forward.”

    At the same time, however, Freeman thinks this requires a candid evaluation of Women & Hi Tech’s core mission. “We can’t become something that isn’t a women’s organization.” As one example, Freeman points to the circumstances of Women & Hi Tech’s founding. Because women were not given equal seats at the table in their STEM careers, the organization’s co-founders and charter members created their own community.

    “That’s why I believe leadership positions of this esteemed organization should be mostly reserved for women. Because opportunities for women in board leadership often don’t exist elsewhere,” she said. “I am super excited that we have Ben Phillips acting as our Treasurer, and am supportive of getting more men involved in committees and other volunteer roles. However, I don’t think we need to recruit more men to the board to be considered ‘inclusive.’” Freeman says we can instead recognize, train, develop, and empower men who serve as allies and help women succeed in STEM, because most successful female STEM leaders attribute some portion of that success to men. “We can celebrate the allyship, sponsorship, and support of men—but they already get plenty of recognition for being outstanding STEM professionals, and women typically do not.”

    In this same vein, Freeman hopes future Women & Hi Tech presidents and leadership will feel secure in keeping the organization’s mission focused squarely on STEM issues related to women. “Our leadership should feel empowered to enforce this boundary and keep the organization focused on the narrow scope of advancing women in STEM,” she said. As Women & Hi Tech President, Angela learned to navigate this delicate crossroads where the organization exists. “We are inclusive to all women in STEM, not just some. But we shouldn’t be concerned about being so inclusive or broadening our mission scope to the point that we are leveling the playing field for people who don’t need it.”

    Angela also shared a realization that resulted from her presidency. “It has been challenging and maybe even a bit disappointing at times to see how much we have been making efforts to communicate our mission of inclusion, yet not necessarily be met with an overwhelming response or participation of ladies in our diverse communities.” Freeman described years of intentionally contacting and making radio and television appearances, giving newspaper and magazine interviews, and reaching out to diverse STEM professional organizations to communicate the resources available through Women & Hi Tech. She even recounted working with translators to make Women & Hi Tech STEM scholarship, grant, award, and/or board opportunities publicly known to non-English speakers. “Certainly, non-diverse organizations need to make room for qualified diverse leaders and members. But, diverse leaders and professionals must also step up and take on the opportunities and resources that are available.”

    When asked what barriers she thinks might still exist to increased participation by diverse women, Freeman comes up short of a suitable answer. “Before I became our president I told myself, diverse women weren’t getting involved because they didn’t see themselves represented in our population and leadership,” she said. “But now I personally know that isn’t the case. That can’t be the excuse anymore. Everything we are striving and fighting for will take your personal time,” she responds. “You don’t drive change, open doors, or blaze trails by putting in a little work or effort. At the end of the day, a nonprofit is a business too. If they are investing resources to attract a specific type of talent, but not getting a return on investment (ROI), those resources will dry up or get reallocated elsewhere.”

    “I strongly encourage diverse women in STEM across Indiana to get more involved in the opportunities Women & Hi Tech offers,” she said. “There has to be more engagement by women who expect to move into STEM leadership, and the Women & Hi Tech board is a great opportunity to develop and/or exhibit leadership skills that you may not be able to demonstrate professionally. Board service means you will invest sweat equity. But your performance has the power to positively impact and influence our community while opening doors for people coming behind you. It’s an opportunity to pay it forward.”

    Angela says that opening doors for more diverse women to lead Women & Hi Tech is her deepest hope for the legacy of her presidency. “At this point, especially with this board, I think we have the critical mass, a collective will, and visibility, along with brand recognition and momentum, to have a great 2021 and years beyond,” she said. “We are hitting our diversity, equity, and inclusion stride with real tangible metrics, parameters, and people that hold similar values. That’s what it will take to get traction so diverse female STEM professionals see Women & Hi Tech as a valid opportunity to develop as a professional leader, find community and professional support, and get civically engaged.”

    Angela says that Women & Hi Tech is an organization where diverse women can make a special contribution to advance the organization in tangible and long-lasting ways. “It’s different for each person and their talents,” she allowed. “But who else can do what you think you can do? No one.”

    “I certainly hope and expect in the near future that another diverse woman will be in the president’s seat. We already have plenty of great candidates. And, if Women & Hi Tech expects to grow to meet the needs of the ever-changing STEM population in Indiana, diversity, equity, and inclusion of all women in STEM must remain prioritized values of the organization and its leadership. If we expect to see a 40th anniversary, the key is equity and inclusion,” she concluded. “And I plan to be there to celebrate.”

  • 09/28/2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    Jordan Downham left the farm she grew up on in Tippecanoe County to study journalism at Notre Dame. But working as a journalist, she found herself in an often inflexible, male-dominated environment defined by late shifts and high-pressure deadlines. Many people might not think of law school as an escape from such challenges, but Downham enrolled at IU Maurer School of Law in Bloomington full of excitement and relief. “I went in with an open mind, but thinking I might do ag tech patents, because I had my personal roots in agriculture. But I found out I couldn’t be a patent attorney because I had no science background.”

    Instead, Downham was drawn to trademark and copyright law. “Word choice and splitting hairs is a huge part of trademark and copyright law, and after working as an editor, I had strengths and passion in that area.” Graduating in 2016, Downham was hired by Quarles & Brady LLP, where she helps technology and science innovators bring their products to market. “I help them navigate the process of registering a trademark. It can’t be too descriptive or too similar to another. This process helps market their product so people can actually use the tools they create.”

    Downham says one of the best parts of her experience in law has been the supportive environment at Quarles & Brady. The company culture is part of what sold her on the firm. “I find the environment much less inflexible than journalism. My firm has been formally recognized multiple times as a Best Law Firm for Women, and it’s proven to be so.” With a two-year-old son, Jordan had the opportunity to work a 75% schedule without needing to self-advocate or “take what I could get,” she explained.

    It’s also been heartening to her that a lot of the contacts and clients she serves are women. “Whether they’re in marketing or legal at tech companies, I collaborate with lots of women helping amazing discoveries find the light of day. It was a surprise at first. I had heard horror stories about the boy’s club and I’m grateful that I haven’t had that experience.” Downham loves supporting Women & Hi Tech because she knows the mission of the organization is to create a parallel experience for women in STEM roles across every industry and specialty.

    Jordan encourages anyone with an interest in STEM to think about how their skill set can apply to the needs of STEM companies. “You can be involved with STEM without the background. There are so many ways to be supportive in every tech company. Attorneys are needed, support and sales staff are needed, marketers are needed. You can still be involved in exciting work even if you aren’t a biochemist or software engineer. If that industry fascinates you and gets you excited, don’t be afraid to come at it with a different angle.”

    Sustaining the potential of innovation is also part of how Downham got involved with Women & Hi Tech. The Get On Board fair, organized by Leadership Indianapolis, is an event that connects interested people to volunteer and nonprofit leadership opportunities. That’s where Jordan met fellow intellectual property attorney and Women & Hi Tech Past President Angela Freeman. “Women & Hi Tech needed help with updating its bylaws and other governance documents and so I shared my brain. I knew revising the governance with the Board was an important contribution to help the organization remain sustainable.”

    Jordan has deep experience in creative problem-solving that still abides by rules and guidelines. “The trademark office has very strict requirements. You don’t get to just smudge the rules. A copyright or trademark application can be easily rejected and we don’t want that because clients are focusing on the product and the innovation. That mess isn’t what they need to worry about.”

    In much the same fashion, her insight helped Women & Hi Tech’s board create governance that protects the organization and lets other members focus on their roles without worry. “Women & Hi Tech are innovators,” she said. Jordan went on to share one of her hopes for the organization to leverage that innovation. “We need to be thinking about the ways women in STEM get opportunities. We don’t have to just focus on giving a woman a spot that was for a man before. What if we create a new spot that makes the most of female perspectives? Men don’t have to be uprooted; instead, women are elevated on our terms and in roles that prioritize the use of our strengths. So much of what we struggle with comes from this illusion of scarcity,” Downham concluded. “The world is wide enough for all types of people to have opportunities.”

  • 08/31/2020 8:02 AM | Anonymous

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

    Women & Hi Tech announced earlier this month that our signature, biennial event, The Leading Lights Awards and Scholarship Gala (LLAs) on October 1, 2020, is going virtual. To say that we are excited is an understatement. Amid this unprecedented year, we are ecstatic to be pivoting to virtually celebrate Indiana women in STEM - women who are risk-takers, leaders, educators, mentors, and those who are changing our local STEM landscape. And new this year, the 2020 LLAs will focus on "Equity and Inclusion" in our Indiana STEM community. As such, Women & Hi Tech is thrilled to be introducing two new award categories celebrating diversity, equity, and inclusion champions and our male allies.

    As excited as I am about the LLAs, I wrote this note on the 57th anniversary of the historic March on Washington, where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his "I Have a Dream" speech (click here to listen to the full speech, "I Have A Dream"). This past Friday, thousands participated in the 2020 March on Washington, while thousands more joined the 2020 Virtual March on Washington. These events remind us and call us all to action for continued progress toward true equity and inclusion in this country.

    Like so many of us who have the privilege to work remotely, I took that time to listen to addresses from Reverend Al Sharpton, Martin Luther King III, and the families of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, and others. All of whom, passionately, powerfully and inspirationally called for justice for their loved ones and systematic and systemic reform for an equitable and inclusive America that includes fair treatment for African Americans and other diverse citizens - our American brothers and sisters. I also listened to Yolanda Renee King, 12- year old granddaughter of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., convey her conviction and passion as she proclaimed "… we will be the generation that moves from me to we" (click here to watch the full speech by Yolanda Renee King).

    While there is clearly much work and reformation that must take place, I am reaffirmed that Women & Hi Tech was called last summer to select "Equity & Inclusion" for this year's LLAs focus. I am also proud that our organization committed years ago to take action to advance equity and inclusion for all in our Indiana STEM community and beyond. I ask us all to join Yolanda Renee King's pledge to keep fighting to "move from me to we" and to continue her grandfather's work towards "genuine equality" for all, alongside Women & Hi Tech.

    In this 20th edition of "Grown from STEM," Women & Hi Tech would like to introduce you to two of our new Board Members, both incredibly accomplished STEM professionals in different industries leveraging their advanced math expertise. We invite you to get to know our K-12 Director, Crystal Morton, Ph.D., Associate Professor of Mathematics Education in the Department of Urban Teacher Education at IUPUI and Founder and Director of Girls STEM Institute. We also invite you to get to know our Treasurer, Ben Phillips, CPA, CISA, CITP, Director in the Audit and Assurance Services Group at Katz, Sapper & Miller (KSM). Please read more about Dr. Morton and Mr. Phillips and how their backgrounds, education, business acumen in math, and passion for equity and inclusion for girls and STEM professionals helps fuel their support and involvement in Women & Hi Tech.

    Best Regards,

    Rebecca Bormann
    President, Women & Hi Tech

  • 08/31/2020 8:01 AM | Anonymous

    Crystal Morton became a math educator because she had great math teachers as a student. But after entering the classroom as a high school teacher in North Carolina, she realized her experience made her the exception, not the norm. “A lot of Black girls were in my slower-paced class who should have been in the honors class. When I would inquire why they hadn’t been accelerated, it was so often about ‘her attitude’ or White teachers saying ‘I can’t teach her.’”

    Morton detected that this wasn’t due to a deficiency in the students, but a failure on the part of educators to see those students as full human beings and allow them to be their full selves. She witnessed students being pressured to conform to the norms that didn’t align with their identity, desires, or spirits.

    As Morton describes it, she “ran from teaching” into computer science for a brief period, then stepped back into the fray and got her Ph.D. in Education. “No one ever talks about teaching as a STEM career. I can’t even call it a gap because it’s too big for that. But education is a science. And if we want to eliminate diversity disparities in all STEM fields, it starts with more diverse teachers who are actually happy and excited to be teachers and who believe in the brilliance of all learners.”

    Dr. Morton explains that diverse educators are essential because they help more diverse students feel welcomed and represented in class. “I lived through that reality as a teacher, and then in graduate school. I got to put data and numbers behind the working systemic racism in K-12 educational spaces.” In her current role as Associate Professor of Math Education and Coordinator of Urban Education Studies Ph.D. Program at IUPUI, Morton has been ecstatic to be surrounded by a diverse community of educators. “IUPUI School of Education is the place to be,” she says plainly. “Here, I have been able to grow as a scholar who researches the teaching and learning of Black girls without having to justify my research focus. That support, in turn, helps me stay strong against outside critics.”

    Overall, she says the experience of Black students in the K-12 space, or even college, hasn’t changed much. “I still have the same conversations with parents and students now that I did in 2001-2004. There are times at all levels of education that students of color, or female students, are downright dehumanized for failing to conform to the expectations rooted in systemic bias and racism. It’s heartbreaking. Sure, there are more add-on supports available,” she allows. “But what isn’t happening is the necessary change in the atmosphere and environment itself.”

    Like many strong women, Crystal resolved to create her own space when the traditional environment was not welcoming to her or the students she wanted to serve. Founding the Girls STEM Institute, she designed a program for young women of color “to have an opportunity to engage in STEM that also fully focused on and encouraged their specific wellness and well-being, whatever that means for them.” In seeking to promote this program and engage young women, she applied to be a presenter at Ignite Your Superpower, and so found her way to Women & Hi Tech. She has since exhibited at the event three times. “It’s an incredible experience to connect with young women who are excited to be in that space, and to have an opportunity to connect with other women who have a passion for serving girls and young women.” She also connected with the Women & Hi Tech Board, and was invited to judge the organizations 20th Anniversary scholarships in 2019 and the 2020 Leading Light Awards scholarships and grants.

    “The first time I judged, I was taken back by the lack of diversity in the applicant pool,” Morton said. She shared that feedback with leadership of the organization around the same time that Women & Hi Tech made a stronger commitment to diversity in its mission and actions. “What impressed me judging again only a year later was the immense shift in the diversity of nominees. That doesn’t just happen by accident. It takes intention, and action, and showed me that Women & Hi Tech was living its commitment to diversity and equity, rather than just virtue signaling with words.”

    When considering joining the Board of Directors in the role of K-12 Outreach, Crystal weighed her jam-packed schedule against the opportunity. “After speaking on the Special Edition EWF’s Diversity panel in February, I knew the organization was in line not just with my values, but with my feeling that we have done enough talking about inequities. It’s time for action.” Being unanimously voted onto the Board of an organization traditionally focused on hard STEM fields also signaled to her that Women & Hi Tech was headed in a direction she wanted to join. “Though I’m a math teacher, I have often been devalued by other STEM professionals due to the education element. So being invited was encouraging because I know the STEM lens I bring to the table is important, and it showed they know that, too.”

    Crystal says this is especially true when it comes to the accelerating conversation around the STEM talent pipeline. “Pipeline to what?” she asks. “Is it really helping anything to encourage young women, or students of color, to love STEM, only to leave them to be eaten alive in a classroom setting? Or in their first job?”

    Morton asserts that the professionals at the front of the classroom are either disrupting systems of bias and racism or allowing them to be perpetuated. “Until we deal with those deep issues, inequity is going to be the reality. We have to deal with issues of inequities in our K-12 schools. “For example, if by 5th grade, you have labeled a young Black girl as not being capable of excelling in STEM subjects, what impact will that have on her STEM trajectory? How do her K-12 learning experiences support or hinder her progress to becoming a major decision-maker around the corporate table? Additionally, what message is sent to White students when their humanity is valued and protected, and they witness Black learners and other learners of Color being treated in dehumanizing ways?”

    These are some of the realities that must be shifted to create lasting change. Additionally, it is important for White allies (males and females) to do the work with other White people and not burden diverse people, including women of Color, with this additional responsibility.

    Crystal says the most encouraging part of her involvement in Women & Hi Tech is how the organization motivates each member toward the action they are capable of, today, to create a more inclusive STEM landscape. Crystal looks forward to helping Women & Hi Tech advance its mission of changing the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all by engaging girls and young women, including those historically marginalized in STEM fields, to step into power and their rightful seats at the decision-making table.

  • 08/31/2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    When Ben Phillips became an accountant, he didn’t expect the role would also lead him to opportunities to promote diversity and equity of women. But he was prepared to seize those moments when they came. As the son of two math professors, he appreciates the impact his parents had in both the home and the academic community to the development of individuals in STEM fields and promoting equity.

    As Phillips himself enrolled at Purdue to study engineering, he grew even more aware and appreciative of his privilege. “I got to go to a great STEM high school in West Lafayette. I had a very affordable college education and inherited drive from the parents who made it possible for me. As I got older, I clearly recognized that most people didn’t have all these benefits, and I knew I had to pursue volunteer opportunities that would make a difference.” He also decided not to become an engineer. “I realized I was more interested in how a business worked than how an engine worked.”

    After graduating from Purdue, Phillips was employed at Katz Sapper Miller (KSM) for two years before moving around the Midwest to cities like Minneapolis and Chicago, always maintaining a job as a certified public accountant (CPA), before returning to Indy. Today, he is a director with KSM specializing in auditing IT security. “The landscape of tools and technology has changed the way our clients and we approach solving problems,” he explains. “There’s a lot more info out on the Web than ever before. When our clients do business with certain customers, their end-user is expecting certain standards to protect their data will be upheld. That’s where I come in, to help them prove it.”

    This might be the day-to-day work of Phillips’s role, but he also takes the role of male ally very seriously. “You can be on board with the ideas of diversity and equity, or you can be committed to actually doing something to make them happen. It’s the switch between, I’m still going to sit on this committee and be engaged, versus the decision to go do something else. At the end of the day, that’s the difference—men must be willing to get uncomfortable and invest their time to elevate others.”

    In his roles at multiple accounting firms, Ben has been closely involved with recruiting. For any organization looking to attract more diverse talent, he has one insight: “You have to show up with diversity to attract diversity. If you want your company to look a certain way in five years, you have to bring that to the table now and make your commitment apparent to students and those in the talent pipeline.”

    He cites the presence of an incredible number of support organizations as a sign that progress is occurring. Organizations like Girls Stem Institute, Women in STEM through Indiana University, Girls, Inc. of Greater Indianapolis Eurkea! Scholars program, Women in Engineering Program through Purdue University, Ivy Tech Community College Youth Programs, Pass the Torch for Women – the list can go on. “What is still needed is a continuance of male allies in the environment,” he adds. “When the programs to advance diversity are female-oriented or minority-oriented, it doesn’t take the conversation to the men in the space and make them change their perspective on their terms. It puts the burden on the marginalized to prove they deserve a chance, versus putting the burden on those in power to share the opportunity.”

    Across all the organizations he mentioned, Phillips chose to join the Women & Hi Tech Board of Directors as Treasurer because the organization puts action behind ideas in a way that aligns with his personal values. “When I volunteer, I want to spend my time trying to do something that will really drive change. Women & Hi Tech is moving the needle every month. Meetings and events are diverse, and board meetings every month reveal a lot of consistent movement toward our goals. That lets me elevate myself to a new level,” stated Phillips.

    He’s especially pleased to see that at the Leading Light Awards and Scholarship Gala on October 1, 2020 Women & Hi Tech will be awarding over $50,000 in scholarships and grants to women and girls pursuing STEM fields. “When some people have more benefit than others, creating the literal opportunity to go to school or learn a trade helps organizations like our sponsors put funding behind these values and create real change.”

    As Treasurer, some of Phillips’s goals are to help Women & Hi Tech increase transparency and create the framework needed to diversify funding. “We currently don’t apply for grants—but if we did, different grants would have financial compliance requirements. So, establishing a process and helping everyone understand the right questions to ask is part of moving forward. My direct skill set of working with efficiency and focus to help us advance is something I already do with clients.”

    That effort won’t just help more women achieve funding and support to enter the STEM talent network, but will also sustain Women & Hi Tech as an organization. “Currently, we are an all-volunteer board with no paid staff. Our first hire will be a huge milestone for the organization. We will further develop our infrastructure and create a more inclusive STEM landscape to all involved—our members, volunteers, employees, board members, and, most importantly, the communities and populations still in need of support.” Overall, the mission of Women & Hi Tech pursues a demonstrable increase in the number of girls and women positively impacted to further their education & experience in STEM fields.

  • 08/29/2020 8:00 AM | Anonymous

    There are so many reasons I love being a part of Women & Hi Tech. From the professional networking and development opportunities to the community outreach work within STEM education, Women & Hi Tech has made me more confident in my career and allowed me to positively impact women STEM professionals. In my 35 year engineering career I have learned that it is not as important to move up as your career progresses as it is to move out and have your circle of influence build. Adding skills and experience, as well as increasing complexity of work, can lead to a huge sense of fulfillment, a fun learning curve, and constant challenges.

    I planned the July ’20 Executive Women’s Forum with the goal of conveying that sometimes leveraging a skill by stepping out into a non-traditional STEM field can lead to work that is enriching and fun. In other words, it increases your circle of influence. Construction was our spotlight. I had several attendees reach out to me after the panel discussion communicating they had never thought to use their project management, problem solving or leadership skills in this industry. They thought you had to know how to complete an engineering design, pour concrete, wire a building, install framing or weld piping. While those direct skills are definitely critical for construction; project planning, organizing, communication, financial control and problem solving (to only name a few) are just as important. Attendees conveyed they had light bulbs go off on how to think differently about where they can leverage their skills and provide value.

    Transferable skills are vitally important in today’s work environment. My STEM skills have allowed me to successfully design, construct, manage projects, lead staff, run operations, consult as well as chair non-profit boards. Who would have thought one chemical engineering degree could be leveraged across this breath of work! It has made me feel empowered and independent.

    I enjoyed collaborating with the Executive Women in Finance team of Nickie Redick and Chaleise Fleming to jointly provide a forum that shared a new avenue to exploit STEM skills. I am thankful our awesome and distinguished panel – Jeanne Fuqua (CH Barnett), Sarah Hempstead (Schmidt Associates), Phil Kenney (Wilhelm), Melanie King (Hagerman) and Brittney Turner (Wilhelm) – contributed their considerable expertise and time to our program. As I transition to the President-Elect role within Women & Hi Tech I intend to continue doing my best to be a mentor, to advance women in their STEM pursuits and to support a robust STEM pipeline of talent in Indiana. I encourage those who were not able to attend virtually the day of the event to check out the recording on Women & Hi Tech’s YouTube channel!

    Best Regards, 

    Linda Hicks, Women & Hi Tech President-Elect

  • 08/10/2020 8:30 AM | Anonymous

    In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and to ensure the health and safety of our members, sponsors, and supporters, Women & Hi Tech is excited to announce the first-ever Virtual Leading Light Awards (LLAs) and Scholarship Gala to be held on October 1, 2020 from 6:30-8:30pm (EST). Typically held at the Indiana Roof Ballroom with 600-700 guests, this signature, biennial event by Women & Hi Tech focuses on celebrating Indiana women in STEM - women who are risk-takers, leaders, educators, mentors, and those who are changing our local STEM landscape. In addition, and new this year at the 2020 LLAs, Women & Hi Tech will focus on “Equity and Inclusion” in STEM, by recognizing our male allies, as well as our diversity, equity, and inclusion champions. In honor of this 20th Anniversary of the first Leading Light Awards – originally the Spotlight Awards - and the incorporation of the organization, Women & Hi Tech is also thrilled to be awarding over $50,000 of scholarships and grants to women and girls in Indiana pursuing STEM fields through its #LLA20for20 scholarship and grant campaign.

    Women & Hi Tech is also pleased to announce Sarah Jones, an award-winning all-platform journalist for WTHR Channel 13News, as the new emcee for the Virtual LLAs and Scholarship Gala on October 1, 2020. Prior to the 2020 Women & Hi Tech Virtual LLAs and Scholarship Gala, Ms. Jones had over a decade of experience in news media in the U.S. and all over the world, including Turkey, Netherlands, South Sudan, Czech Republic, England, Dubai, Canada, and more. Ms. Jones has also worked for major international news networks, including CNN, the BBC, and Al Jazeera America. Ms. Jones earned her B.A. in Communications from Lake Forest College and a Masters with Merit in International Broadcast Journalism from City University in London.

    Women & Hi Tech is thrilled to have Ms. Jones’ engagement and support of the 2020 Virtual Leading Light Awards and Scholarship Gala as we celebrate female STEM leaders, and the benefits and advantages of “Equity and Inclusion” on the robust pipeline of talent in the Indiana STEM community. The mission of Women & Hi Tech is to change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all.

    About Sarah Jones:
    Ms. Jones recently joined WTHR Channel 13News as a “one-WOMAN-band” meaning she films, edits, writes, produces, and reports her own pieces and material. Ms. Jones has also advised senior level military personnel and government officials in the US and allied countries on social media technologies. Ms. Jones’ global travels as a journalist has fueled her deep appreciation for diverse cultures and traditions. Ms. Jones was named by Friends of Europe as one of the top twenty North American Young Leaders, and was also voted Best Journalist in Social Media at the Sixth Annual Shorty Awards.

    Ms. Jones has been recognized as an International Women's Media Foundation fellow, a two time International Reporting Project Fellow, and is among the top forty female social media influencers for conversations surrounding artificial intelligence. Ms. Jones received the Women Economic Forum's highest honor on International Women's Day, 2018 in Hague where she was named as one of their "Women of the Decade" in News & Social Engagement. Selected as one of the top one thousand most influential Twitter profiles, Ms. Jones also continues to serve as an Online Media Awards judge and Skoll World Forum delegate since 2015. Proudly, Ms. Jones founded Remembering Fallen Journalists, an online movement to honor those who have died while bearing witness, which reached over 9 million people in its first year.

    Ms. Jones is personally passionate about access to education, social entrepreneurship, and women's rights, access to clean water and sanitation, as well as ethical fashion and products. Ms. Jones has also won awards in fencing and Tae Kwon Do.

    About Women & Hi Tech:
    Women & Hi Tech is a 501(c)3 charitable organization founded in Indianapolis in 1999 by Eli Lilly scientist, Joyce Gustafson, and Indiana University academic, Georgia Miller. Over the last two decades, Women & Hi Tech has blazed a trail for supporting, recognizing, and advancing outstanding women and girls pursuing STEM fields in Indiana. In that time, Women & Hi Tech has become a pillar of the local STEM community through its educational, professional development, recognition, mentoring, and networking programs, which provide valuable resources to champion collegiate and career women, along with STEM exposure opportunities for K-12 girls. A membership of almost 2000 professionals and students operated by an all-volunteer working Board of Directors and Emeritus, Women & Hi Tech is the only non-profit organization founded and focused in Indiana that is dedicated to changing the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all. 

  • 07/30/2020 7:02 AM | Anonymous

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

    According to the World Economic Forum, "less than a third of female students choose to study higher education courses in subjects like math and engineering." Unfortunately, this is not a surprising statistic. The lack of women in STEM fields, including math and engineering, is precisely why Women & Hi Tech exists - to change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all.

    Countless studies and reports have attributed a lack of modeling for K-12 girls as one of the many reasons for the gender gap in STEM. The lack of modeling intensifies for our diverse girls. With increased exposure and modeling, K-12 girls have the chance to learn about all the exciting possibilities, unlimited opportunities, and the many personal and professional rewards to be achieved by choosing a path in science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). When girls see a woman who looks like them in a STEM career, it bolsters their confidence and allows them to envision themselves belonging in STEM too.

    Women & Hi Tech's female engineers featured in this issue of Grown from STEM, inspired me to research famous female engineers. As I had suspected, women have been significant contributors to engineering innovation since the beginning. Case in point, we need more diverse female engineers today and in the future to continue to advance and innovate the field of engineering. How do we accomplish this goal?

    A small step is to learn, share, and make it part of our collective conversation. To celebrate and learn about the accomplishments of more female engineers, I am sharing a few of the women I learned about in my research.

    Dr. Willie Hobbs MooreDr. Willie Hobbs Moore was a physicist and engineer. She was the first African American woman to earn a Ph.D. in Physics in June 1972 at the University of Michigan. Her dissertation, directed by the renowned spectroscopist Samuel Krimm, was on the subject of "A Vibrational Analysis of Secondary Chlorides," and focused on a theoretical analysis of the secondary chlorides for polyvinyl-chlorine polymers. Moore held engineering positions at Bendix Aerospace Systems Division, Barnes Engineering Company, Sensor Dynamics Inc, and later became an Executive with Ford Motor Company. Among her many accomplishments, Dr. Moore made major advancements in the quality methods and engineering technology at Ford and throughout the automotive industry. Dr. Moore was also extremely active in the advancement of STEM education for minorities. To read more about Dr. Willie Hobbs Moore, please visit: and

    Dr. Mildred Dresselhaus, known as the "queen of carbon science,” was an American nanotechnologist. Dr. Dresselhaus earned her B.A. in Hunter College in 1951 and her Ph.D. from University of Chicago in 1958. She was an Institute Professor and Professor Emerita of physics and electrical engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) for 50 years. Dr. Dresselhaus' research made fundamental discoveries in the electronic structure of semi-metals. Her work on using quantum structures to improve thermoelectric energy conversion reignited this research field. Dr. Dresselhaus was awarded both the Presidential Medal of Freedom (from President Barack Obama in 2014) and the National Medal of Science (from President George H.W. Bush in 1990). Dr. Dresselhaus is also well-known for her work to develop more opportunities for women in science and engineering. Please read more about Dr. Mildred Dresselhaus at

    Dr. Ellen OchoaDr. Ellen Ochoa is an engineer and former astronaut. She has earned a Bachelor's in Physics from San Diego State University, as well as a Master's in Science and a Doctorate in Electrical Engineering both from Stanford University. While a researcher at the NASA Ames Research Center, Dr. Ochoa led a team working on optical systems for automated space exploration. She patented an optical system to detect defects in a repeating pattern, and is a co-inventor on three patents for an optical inspection system, an optical object recognition method, and a method for noise removal in images respectively. In 1993, Dr. Ochoa was the first Hispanic person to go to space when she served on a nine-day mission aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery. Dr. Ochoa was also the first Hispanic Director and second female Director of the NASA Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas. Please read more about Ellen Ochoa at

    I highly encourage our readers to share this newsletter about Women & Hi Tech's very own accomplished engineers along with these famous women engineers with your daughters, nieces, granddaughters, girl scout troops, and other K-12 girls in your lives. I hope these women - who are certainly changing the landscape of engineering and STEM to be equally inclusive to all - will serve as personification and inspiration for our girls that they too can be an engineer and leave their mark in STEM!

    In this 19th edition of "Grown from STEM," Women & Hi Tech would like to introduce you to two extremely accomplished engineering professionals in different STEM industries. We invite you to meet and get acquainted with our President-Elect, Linda Hicks, Vice President of Midwest Operations at EEC Horizon. We would also like to introduce you to one of our dedicated members, Poonam Gill, a Learning Design & Technology Grad Student at Purdue University. Please read more about Linda and Poonam and how their backgrounds, education, business acumen, and passion for developing and promoting the future generations of diverse female engineers and STEM professionals helps fuel their support and involvement in Women & Hi Tech.

    Kind Regards,

    Rebecca Bormann
    President, Women & Hi Tech
    Managing Director of Sales, Bell Techlogix

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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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