As my presidency has come to a close with Women & Hi Tech (W&HT), I’d like to thank you, each and every one of the board members, sponsors and volunteers, for the many kindnesses and unlimited support you’ve provided me this year. I have truly enjoyed every minute as President, but having completed a year, I see why one year is the just the right amount of time for this role!
I am more committed to this organization than ever and I look forward to continuing as an active board member, first as Past President and then hopefully as Emeritus.
For a year I have had the pleasure of sharing and introducing people to W&HT. I always start with our mission statement: Women & Hi Tech exists to change the landscape of women represented in STEM to be equally inclusive to all. This is why I am a member of W&HT; because I passionately believe we are better when we pull ideas from a diverse pool and ensuing women are at the table having their voices heard is vital to the ongoing growth of ideas.
Next, I share W&HT is a local organization founded in 1999 by Dr. Georgia B. Miller from IUPUI, Joyce Gustafson from Eli Lilly, and Jo Basey from IU who recognized and began actively working to support Indiana women to pursue and succeed in STEM careers by forming W&HT. Countless women owe a debt to these proactive woman, myself included. We each build upon what has come before and then see to raise up those coming behind us.
Being part of an all-working board for four years — and the W&HT board works hard — was great training to step into the role of President but even this led to surprises. The volume of opportunity requests that came into the organization were both wonderful and daunting. Where do we spend our time and talents, and where can we be most impactful?
I am proud of many things we achieved and would like to highlight:
- K-12: I attended 14 events encouraging girls, and sometimes their brothers, across the city to consider STEM careers, all while crafting a binary code bracelet encoded with ”01000001 01001101 01010100”. A special shout out to Rhonda Crawford, Lauren Flores, and Uma Nagarajan who womaned the booth at the Slumber at the Speedway volunteer event on a very cold October Saturday for five hours and were still smiling when I came to help clean up.
- Scholarships: 20% of the corporate sponsorship funds of W&HT are allocated to fund scholarships. At the December Holiday Party, I had the pleasure to award checks to three amazing young women pursuing STEM fields at Rose Hulman, IUPUI, and Purdue universities. Our state is better for the work these women are undertaking, and it is wonderful to be part of an organization actively investing in their future.
- Partnerships: In April of 2018, W&HT, Indy Women in Tech (IWIT) and Pass the Torch for Women (PTTFW) came together to amplify each of our missions. W&HT has over 1,300 members who are in STEM-related careers and are ready to both mentor and be mentored. Joining with PTTFW to leverage their mentoring platform makes total sense, as does IWiT using PTTFW to find mentors for the women they are supporting through career transition. Thank you to John Qualls of Eleven Fifty Academy who shared “Keep pushing the effort. Women are leading the way in Indy. Other orgs should take note on how to collaborate for the cause versus the ego centric interactions I’ve observed.” This made my heart sing!
- Sponsors: All the work of W&HT is made possible by the amazing group of corporate and collegiate sponsors who help fund our efforts and encourage diversity within their own organization by actively promoting the participation of their teams in the work of W&HT.
- Members: I have never had a boring conversation with a W&HT member; you are the heart of the organization and you step up to each and every opportunity presented. Networking out at the track, finding our own “Boss Presence” guided by Dawn Rosemond in French Lick, seeing our city together from the Skyline Club, championing each other for new Board openings, cheering on the Fever, and learning in our Executive Women’s Forums.
I am also grateful to the support I had from my team of #maleallies, Nick, Tom, and Harry who understood and cheered me on to attend all the many activities of this past year. Special thanks to Harry for also being part of the W&HT supply chain for events, ferrying banners and binary bead bracelets to and from various volunteers & manning the booth on one occasion!
Additionally, I am not surprised but want to acknowledge all that @netlogxteam did to free me up to be available to support W&HT this past year in the way I wanted to.
I started by sharing I think one year is enough; the reason W&HT has survived 20 years and is vibrant and strong is the new blood and new ideas that a changing Board brings, guided by the wisdom and experience of the Emeritus members. I look forward to celebrating the upcoming year with Darcy Lee at the helm aided and assisted by the indomitable, Angela Freeman, and a new and vibrant board who are ready to deliver Leading Light Awards and so much more.
To many more years of continued growth and success,