Women & Hi Tech – Grown from STEM: February Edition


Dear Members, Sponsors, Volunteers, Supporters and Friends,

February has been an exciting month for Women & Hi Tech, and we hope it has been for you too! Women & Hi Tech members have been meeting every other Wednesday during our ClickSide Chat meetings held for a small group of registered members. These interactive sessions provide a mid-week touch-point for Women & Hi Tech members to connect, engage, and encourage each other via a moderated discussion format related to a respective topic hosted by Women & Hi Tech Board Members Upcoming topics include a check-in on 2021 goals and resolutions, self-care best practices and a session focused on interviewing tips & best practices. We are also reading The Woman Who Smashed Codes: A True Story of Love, Spies, and the Unlikely Heroine Who Outwitted America’s Enemies by Jason Fagone for our upcoming Virtual Book Club Meeting on March 9th from 6 pm to 7 pm. Spoiler alert: the woman who smashed codes is from Indiana! If you are not already registered for a ClickSide Chat or Book Club please visit our website womenandhitech.org/events.

We were also delighted to host our kickoff “Special Edition” Executive Women’s Forum (EWF) of 2021 – A Casual and Crucial COVID Conversation with Indiana’s Health Commissioner- Dr Kristina Box, during Black History month and on International Day of Women and Girls in Science as declared by the United Nations General Assembly. The mission of this day is to “achieve full and equal access to and participation in science for women and girls and to further achieve gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.” We at Women & Hi Tech, would especially like to recognize and thank all of our Indiana female scientific leaders and healthcare heroes- for their many accomplishments especially accomplishments that have created solutions for problems caused by the global pandemic. Thank you!

We honor and celebrate February as Black History month and Women & Hi Tech recognizes and celebrates African American History not just in February but year-round. This year we’d like to especially recognize all of the African American women in STEM, especially our Past President, Angela B. Freeman, and EWF Director, Linda Calvin, for making history today in our Indiana community and across the nation and the world. Thank you!

To continue to honor and celebrate Black History month, I share with you four of innumerous African American women who have or are currently blazing trails in a STEM field.

Yvonne Young Clark (1929-2019)

According to BlackPast.org, Yvonne Young Clark was the first African American to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in mechanical engineering at Howard University in 1951. She was the first woman to receive a Master’s degree in Engineering from Vanderbilt University in 1972; and, she was the first female faculty at the College of Engineering at Tennessee State University [TSU], endearing her with the title, “TSU’s First Lady of Engineering”.

Yvonne Young Clark utilized summer breaks during her 55-year higher education career to undertake engineering jobs. She worked on recoilless weapons at Frankfort Arsenal; on Saturn 5 engines where she identified hot spots for the NASA division in Huntsville, Alabama; and receptacles for returning moon specimens to Earth at the NASA Manned Spacecraft Center in Houston. She also conducted extensive studies on refrigerants including serving as chief researcher on a project “Experimental Evaluation of the Performance of Alternative Refrigerants in Heat Pump Cycles. To learn more about Yvonne Young Clark please visit: https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/yvonne-young-clark-1929-2019/

Dr. Jewel Plummer Cobb (1924-2017)

As I learned on Your Dictonary.com, Dr. Jewel Plummer Cobb a cell biologist and cell physiologist is most known for her work with skin pigment, or melanin. She was an educator and researcher and contributed to the field of chemotherapy with her research on how drugs affected cancer cells. She was also a passionate advocator for women and ethnic minorities to enter into the field of science.

In 1991, Cobb became principal investigator at Southern California Science and Engineering ACCESS Center and Network, which helps middle school and high school students from economically disadvantaged backgrounds pursue careers in engineering, mathematics, and the sciences. She continued to help in efforts to bring opportunities to minorities. In 2001, she was principal investigator for Science Technology Engineering Program (STEP) Up for Youth—ASCEND project at California State University, Los Angeles.

For her work helping minorities discover the rewards of a career in science, Cobb received the 1993 Lifetime Achievement Award. This was given by the National Academy of Science for her contributions to the advancement of women and underrepresented minorities. Her photograph hangs in the academy’s hall reserved for distinguished scientist. To learn more about Dr. Jewel Plummer Cobb please visit: https://biography.yourdictionary.com/jewel-plummer-cobb

Angela Benton (1981-)

Angela Benton is an American businesswoman. Benton founded NewME (acquired), the first startup accelerator for minorities globally in 2011. Through her leadership, NewME has accelerated hundreds of entrepreneurs helping the nascent companies to raise over $47 million in venture capital funding. Prior to that she launched BlackWeb 2.0 in 2007, a multimedia platform that filled a much-needed void by becoming a vital nexus for African-Americans interested in technology. She is a pioneer of diversity and one of the most important African-Americans in the technology industry.

Today Angela Benton is currently the Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Streamlytics, which uses first-party media consumption data to bring transparency to what people are streaming on today’s most popular streaming services while helping consumers own their data in the process. To learn more about Angela Benton please visit: https://www.angelabenton.co/about-angela-benton#about

Dr. Sylvia T. Bozeman (1947-)

Dr. Sylvia Bozeman’s professional career has primarily been spent as a member of the mathematics faculty at Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She began as an instructor in 1972, became assistant professor in 1980, an associate in 1984, and professor in 1991. Moreover, Sylvia served as Chair of Math at Spelman (1982-1993), as adjunct faculty in Math at Atlanta University (1983-85) teaching graduate mathematics/ supervising a master’s thesis, and became Director of the Center for the Scientific Applications of Mathematics (1993-present), a center she established at Spelman. In the late 1970’s, Sylvia took a three-year leave of absence from Spelman to matriculate at Emory University in Atlanta where she earned a Ph.D. degree in mathematics in 1980 in Functional Analysis; her thesis title : “Representations of Generalized Inverses of Fredholm Operators.” Her noted scholarly activities include several publications, funded research (by NASA, the US Office of Army Research and the Kellogg Foundation); and her recognitions, contributions, and services as a gifted teacher and presenter.

Sylvia Bozeman also has a strong commitment to community service. The elementary students’ Tutorial Program at Friendship Baptist Church is one of her favorites. Her awards, honors, and recognitions are many. They include: Distinguished Alumni of the Year Award – Al A&M Univ/NAFEO (1996); Pres. Fac. Award for Dist. Service – Spelman (1995); Dist. Teaching Award – Southeastern Section of the MAA(1995); White House Initiative Fac. Award for Excell. in Sc. & Tech. (1988); Tenneco UNCF Award for Excell in Teaching (1988) and election to Phi Beta Kappa and to Pi Mu Epsilon Honorary Math. Fraternity. In 1997 Sylvia Bozeman was selected to be the Project Shepherd of the most expensive construction project in the history of Spelman: the $25 million (+) Spelman College Science Center. Also in 1997, Sylvia Bozeman was elected Governor of the Southeastern Section of the Mathematical Association of America (MAA).

She is the first African-American to be elected a Section Governor in MAA’s eight-two year history. The MAA is the largest mathematics organization of college and university professors, and the Southeastern Section is one of the largest sections. Dr. Sylvia Bozeman’s mentor is her friend of many years, Dr. Etta Falconer.

In our 25th edition of “Grown from STEM”. We are featuring Women & Hi Tech’s Collegiate Outreach Director, Merri Beth Lavagnino and dedicated member Kelley Skelton, both excelling in the field of Tech, Security, Data and Analytics. Both Lavagnino and Skelton are highly accomplished in their respective disciplines in technology and share how their unique paths and careers have led to their success and passion for tech. Lavagnino and Skelton are champions for diversity, equity, and inclusion, particularly for women in STEM, in their careers, volunteerism, and personal lives. Please read more about Lavagnino and Skelton and how their backgrounds, STEM expertise, and passion for equity and inclusion for girls and STEM professionals helps fuel their support and involvement in Women & Hi Tech.

As we began in the October 2020 edition of “Grown from STEM,” we are delighted to continue to feature one of our 2020 Virtual Leading Light Awards (LLAs) recipients in this newsletter. This month we continue to celebrate and recognize Women & Hi Tech’s Mentor Me! award recipient, Heather Jones. Heather is an accomplished biochemical engineer in the field of fermentation and a selfless leader at Corteva Agriscience. Heather’s impact in mentoring spans across ages from young children to college students to science professionals. Her approachable demeanor, articulate communication style and her own success as a scientist, engineer, and leader make her an effective mentor and inspirational role model for young women. Please watch this segment of the 2020 Virtual LLAs to learn more about what fuels Heather’s passion and drive for equality for all in the STEM fields and beyond. Again, Congratulations Heather!

Kind Regards,

Rebecca Bormann

President, Women & Hi Tech


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