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Grown from STEM: June Edition - Women & Hi Tech Celebrates “Equity and Inclusion” in 20th Year of The Leading Light Awards

06/29/2020 12:02 PM | Lori Boyer (Administrator)

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Most Sincerely and Final Farewell,

Angela B. Freeman, M.S., J.D.
President, Women & Hi Tech
president@womenandhitech.org


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