• 07/27/2021 8:33 AM | Anonymous

    On June 24, 2021, Women & Hi Tech was excited to host our summer Executive Women’s Forum: Let’s Talk About Your Cyber Hygiene. This important discussion informed attendees about secure online behaviors and how critical cybersecurity is in today’s technology age. According to recent reports, cybercrime has increased every year as people try to benefit from vulnerable business and personal systems. Often, attackers are looking for ransom: 53% of cyber attacks resulted in damages of $500,000 or more.

    Linda Calvin, director of the Executive Women’s Forum and Ben Phillips, Treasurer, kicked off the event as moderators for the discussion. “This forum gave us the opportunity to provide our members and the community with best-in-class thought leadership on the evolving personal and enterprise cybersecurity risk landscapes,” said Phillips. “We are extremely grateful for the outstanding attendance and the content provided by our panelists.

    The panelists were Meredith Harper, VP and Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at Eli Lilly, Chetrice Mosely-Romero, Cybersecurity Program Director at Indiana Office of Technology & Indiana Department of Homeland Security, and Nicole Sigler, Senior Security Consultant at Pondurance. These women shared their wise words on major recent cybersecurity events, the implications of poor security, and how we can improve our cybersecurity report card.

    Takeaways from the event 

    The forum covered cyber security from both corporate and personal angles. Panelists discussed topics for corporate security such as the recent attack on SolarWinds and how it affected federal and local governments, as well as how to integrate cybersecurity training effectively in a corporation. The conversation then shifted to tips on personal cyber security, such as changing your passwords every few months and segmenting routers in your home when bringing in technology such as Alexa or the Ring doorbell.

    “A lot of what we’re dealing with in cybersecurity is human behavior. A computer doesn't click on a malicious link--a human does. We need to make sure people are educated and aware of attacks so they can combat them at the point of attack,” said Harper. 

    Mosley-Romero commented, “We, the protectors, have to be creative and emulative to understand the different forms of communication and training. We also have to be creative about understanding the bad actors and how they are getting into complex systems. Cyber security is not all ones and zeros. It’s a critical thinking skill, a creative skill, and a psychological skill.”

    With everything there is a risk, but much like driving, we have to consider the rules of the road and protect ourselves. With good cyber hygiene, we can arm ourselves against the malware and bad actors that are attacking our corporate entities and personal homes. 

    “Something we always say, as consultants and auditors is, I believe you, I trust you, but I just need to verify. We need to use this methodology in our daily life and in our companies. We all need to double check things,” said Sigler. “It's just like any other organization where you have checks and balances. In cyber security, you need to double check your security measures so nothing happens to cause havoc.”

    Listen and learn about cyber hygiene

    Women & Hi Tech encourages all who missed the live virtual event to view the recorded session of our Executive Women's Forum: Let’s Talk About Your Cyber Hygiene and visit to attend our next events!

  • 07/07/2021 8:42 AM | Anonymous

    Women & Hi Tech is pleased to announce the Board of Directors for the term that commenced on July 1, 2021.

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

    • President: Linda Hicks, Vice President of Midwest Operations for ECC Horizon

    • President-Elect: Maria Alvim-Gaston Ph. D., Advisor – MIH Talent Development Academy Medicines Innovation Hub, Eli Lilly and Company

    • Treasurer: Ben Phillips, Director, Katz, Sapper & Miller

    • Secretary: Allison Lipps, Partners Program & Project Coordinator, Indiana Hemophilia & Thrombosis Center, Inc.

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

    • Collegiate Outreach Director: Stephanie Jeffers, Director of Outreach and Student Career Support for the College of Technology at Indiana State University.

    • Communications Director: Amber Peckham, Senior Content Manager, Metonymy Media

    • Community Outreach Director: Rebecca Leon, Senior Research Scientist, Eli Lilly and Company.

    • Corporate Engagement Director: Hannah Stork, Client Executive with Rural Sourcing, Inc. (RSI).

    • Engagement, Diversity, and Inclusion Director: Joy Neely, Central Area, Regional Business Manager, Roche Diagnostic Information Solutions

    • Executive Women's Forum Director: Linda Calvin, Vice President, School of IT at Ivy Tech Community College

    • K-12 Outreach Director: Crystal Morton, Associate Professor of Mathematics Education, Indiana University School of Education – Indianapolis

    • Leading Light Awards Director: Lauryn Andrews, Consultant, netlogx

    • Membership Administrator:Carol Ganz, Vice President of Sales, Six Feet Up, Inc.

    • Networking Events Director: Sahara Williams, Intellectual Property Attorney, Barnes & Thornburg.

    • Past President: Rebecca Bormann, Managing Director of Sales and Services, Bell Techlogix, Inc.

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

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

    “Women & Hi Tech is pleased to welcome five new members of our board, and to celebrate a new board position,” said Linda Hicks, President of Women & Hi Tech. “I know we’ll continue our legacy of having a highly-inclusive environment with Joy Neeley leading our Engagement, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) strategies. I’m also excited about the fresh perspectives and ideas our new board members will bring to the table, including getting a pulse of female STEM professionals’ needs outside of central Indiana. We have two new board members joining us from the western and northern parts of the state.” 

    Hicks mentioned several upcoming October events she is excited to celebrate with the membership. “We’re having our biennial member retreat in October at French Lick. That’s going to be a great time for networking and professional development. We have also been selected to present our OperationAll™ programming at the Society of Women Engineers National Conference that will be held in downtown Indianapolis in late October. We have assembled a panel of accomplished and sincere male allies who will convey to attendees what it means for men to be an ally to their female staff, peers, colleagues and friends.”

    Hicks elaborated on the year ahead, “We have six core strategic objectives: drive our EDI initiatives, including improving diversity of membership; expand our programming across the state; develop a revenue generation plan that supports the growth we’re planning for; get to know our members better to drive better programming decision making; improve our communications and marketing; and grow partnership relationships.”

    Hicks is confident this team will achieve all those objectives. “We’re a high-achieving group of professionals who individually have a strong passion for driving inclusivity in STEM professions. Collectively, our re-elected and emeritus members already have fantastic teamwork, collaboration and respect for each other and our members.  We are confident the organization will only be elevated by the addition of our new peers. We will set goals and then put the plans in place to get it done. That’s what we do well together.”

  • 06/30/2021 5:41 PM | Anonymous

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

    June has been an exciting month for Women & Hi Tech!  We hosted our inaugural Multicultural Celebration, which was also our first in-person event since the onset of the pandemic. We also virtually hosted our second quarter Women & Hi Tech's Executive Women's Forum: Let’s Talk About Your Cyber Hygiene. If you missed the Executive Women's Forum, be sure to watch the recording. And, we hosted our Q2 virtual Book Club discussion about the book Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi!

    We have also been celebrating throughout the month that June is Pride month. Women & Hi Tech affirms its commitment to an inclusive, equitable and welcoming environment for everyone. We stand with our LGBTQIA+ community in celebrating historic triumphs and advocating for continued equality for all.  Happy Pride month, everyone!

    I would also like to take a moment to acknowledge that Juneteenth, also known as Emancipation Day, is now a Federal holiday.  Juneteenth commemorates the day June 19, 1865, which is the effective end of slavery in America – this is such a significant day in our country’s history. May we all use this opportunity to learn about the importance of June 19th and celebrate the resilience and contributions of African Americans – past and present – to our country as we strive for continued equality for all.

    June also marks the end of the 2021-2022 board term and the welcoming in of the new 2021-2022 board, being led by Linda Hicks, Women & Hi Tech’s new President effective July 1, 2021.

    I would like to thank you all for this incredible opportunity to serve as the 2021-2022 President of such an impactful and empowering organization. For over 20 years Women & Hi Tech had been serving the Indiana STEM community and has blazed trails, used our voices, and taken action to make a difference and change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all.  I am honored and humbled to be a part of such an important, worthy, needed, and wanted change! Thank you! 

    The 2020 – 2021 board term was an extremely memorable year for Women & Hi Tech in so many ways.  And I am honored to share with you we saw record numbers in program variety and participation, sponsorship, mentorship, membership giving, scholarships and grants awarded and overall community engagement.

    • In July of 2020, the current Board of Directors was unanimously elected, which is the most diverse Board in Women & Hi Tech's history – by age, gender, ethnicity or race, STEM expertise, professional experience, and so much more.
    • We introduced new programs including Women & Hi Tech’s Virtual Quarterly Book Club, led by our current Secretary, Kelly Sandstrom.
    • We hosted our second round of W&HT’s ClickSide Chat series which was created at the onset of stay at home orders. This series serves as a mid-week touch-point for Women & Hi Tech members to connect, engage, and encourage each other via a moderated discussion format hosted by Women & Hi Tech Board Members.
    • We virtually visited colleges and universities around Indiana and spoke to hundreds of girls about working in tech and STEM careers.
    • Women & Hi Tech hosted our first-ever Virtual Leading Light Awards and Scholarship gala in October of 2020. We brought together over 500 registered attendees in our STEM community and awarded over $58,000 of scholarships and grants to 17 women and girls in Indiana who plan to remain in Indiana for their careers.

    Beyond this being our first virtual gala, the 2020 LLAs had a lot of other firsts.

    • Notably, we awarded the largest amount of scholarships and grants Women & Hi Tech has provided at one time in our history.
    • We also had the most diverse group of award and scholarship and grants recipients well as the most diverse panel of judges ever.
    • Also new, we honored our Indiana #STEM community with an #INthistogether video tribute for all of the amazing work our STEM community has been doing to overcome challenges created by the pandemic.  And we created the Women & Hi Tech  #INthistogether Scholarship.  This was our first ever member funded scholarship which raised over $3300 for our recipient LaJoi Shelton Robinson. 
    • We also introduced a second new scholarship. 2020 marked the inaugural awarding of the Rare Nickel Scholarship. This $5000 scholarship celebrates the first five women who received Spotlight Awards in 2000. 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 Nickel Scholarship was Marielle Berin, BS Mechanical Engineering, Purdue University.
    • Last but certainly not least, Women & Hi Tech also introduced and 2 new Leading Light Awards in 2020: the Women & Hi Tech Equity and Inclusion Champion Leading Light Award and the Women & Hi Tech OperationALL Male Allies Award.

    Our Inaugural Multicultural Celebration earlier this month was hosted at the beautiful Indiana State Museum Great Hall! It was an amazing evening filled with cultural education, art, music from the live band Chamber Music, festivity, cultural food, dancing and networking. 

    Women & Hi Tech Indianapolis Multicultural Celebration Photo CollageOver the past board term, we have also made progress on our 2-year strategy including:

    • New governance policies, including revising and ratifying our bylaws to include our DE&I statement, whichyou can check out on our website. We also created policies including partnership guidelines, code of conduct and conflict of interest.
    • We also went live with our implementation – to help enable easy tracking, documenting and organized data.
    • We’ve increased the financial acumen, maturity, and security of our organization.
    • I am also honored and delighted to share that we have retired our Volunteer Director role in order to introduce our new role, DE&I Director which is an additional step Women & Hi Tech has taken to ensure the organization continues to focus on diversity, equity and inclusion for all women, in STEM and beyond.

    Advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion for all is at the core of Women & Hi Tech. And we are pleased with the positive change to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion that is evident not only within our organization but for so many more Indiana women and girls in STEM because of the impact of our 2020-2021 programming, events, scholarships, grants and awards. We also understand the work for true equity and inclusion for all women and girls in Indiana is far from done. Despite our society’s current challenges, Women & Hi Tech remains committed, strategic, and actionable to further our mission - to make STEM equally inclusive to all – and to serve our members, sponsors, partners, and friends in the Indiana STEM community.

    It’s really been an incredible Board term!  And none of this would be possible without our dedicated and passionate, Board of Directors, Sponsors and Members.

    I sincerely thank all of our corporate and collegiate sponsors for their continued support and engagement – we appreciate your generosity in helping us continue to advance our mission.

    To our members---- Thank you for believing in Women & Hi Tech’s mission and for supporting, encouraging, and cheering one another on!  Thank you for volunteering, mentoring, and being engaged and active members of Women & Hi Tech’s programs. Every day, you support professional women in STEM, collegiate women, and inspire the next generation of K -12 girls to pursue an interest in STEM. 

    To the 2020 -2021 Board of Directors and Emeritus members -----Thank you to each of you for your passion, dedication, and fervor to so generously share your time, talents and treasures serving on this Board.  I thank you for all your support, for your creativity, for your ideas, and for being courageous and taking a stand for something so much bigger than ourselves.  Each of you have left your fingerprints all over this organization and Women & Hi Tech is even better because of your contributions.  It has truly been my honor and pleasure to serve with you amazing humans.  I am humbled and proud to call each of you my friend and part of my crew – thank you so very much.  And thank you for making our world a better place, by changing the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all!  Virtual round of applause!!!

    2021-2022 Board of Directors and Emeritus members----  I can’t wait to see what you are going to do and how you will continue to advance Women & Hi Tech and serve our members, sponsors, partners, friends and the Indiana STEM community! I look forward to continuing to serve alongside each of you in the Past President role.

    In our 29th edition of "Grown from STEM" we are excited to be featuring Women & Hi Tech’s Executive Women’s Forum (EWF) Director, Linda Calvin and our dedicated member, Tosin Ajayi. Both Calvin and Ajayi are highly accomplished in their respective tech disciplines and share how their unique journeys led to their success and passion for tech. Calvin and Ajayi are champions for diversity, equity, and inclusion for all, particularly for women in STEM, in their careers, volunteerism, and personal lives. Please read more about Calvin and Ajayi and how their backgrounds, STEM expertise, and passion for equity and inclusion for girls and female 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 You Inspire US! Leading Light Award recipient Rupal Thanawala. Rupal’s professional excellence stems from the value and enhancements that she cultivates within the companies and organizations that she serves. Building world-class innovative solutions for customers, positioning digital transformation as a value creator, fostering diverse & inclusive team culture and building a pipeline of future workforce for the tech industry is just a day in the life of Rupal.

    Please watch this segment of the 2020 Virtual LLAs to learn more about what fuels Rupal's passion and drive for equality for all in the STEM fields and beyond. Again, Congratulations Rupal!


    Rebecca Bormann
    Women & Hi Tech President

  • 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.”

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