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Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative: Renewed Commitment to Supporting Diversity and Inclusion in IT for the Research and Education Community

Nov 20, 2017, by Sara Aly
Tags: 2017 Technology Exchange, Frontpage News, Inclusivity Initiative Award, Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative

Logo for the Internet2 Inclusivity InitiativeThe Gender Diversity Initiative that was established in 2014 by the Internet2 community with the aim of improving gender diversity in the information technology field has a new name – the Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative.

The steering committee supporting this initiative remains committed to increasing the meaningful participation of not only women, but also underrepresented minorities, in information technology for our research and education community. Like so many of our members, the committee believes that a more diverse and inclusive community is a stronger one, and will generate better solutions, tools, and results for the many people we serve around the world.

Twice a year – once during Global Summit and once during the Technology Exchange – scholarships are awarded to underrepresented IT professionals working at Internet2 member organizations and attending their first Internet2 meeting.

It is a special goal of the program that awardees use their experiences to establish relationships, build the knowledge capital of their institutions, and help diversify high technology—bringing greater opportunity to IT professionals in their home organizations and beyond. 

Interested in nominating someone from your campus for a future Internet2 meeting? Please visit the Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative page for more information.

All six of the scholarship winners from this year’s Internet2 Technology Exchange (TechEX) share their highlights below:

  • Jessica Shaffer
    Network Support Engineer Photo of Jessica Shaffer
    Georgia Institute of Technology

    "Attending the Internet2 Technology Exchange provided incredible opportunities to meet with seasoned experts in the networking field and to explore innovative projects and solutions from other organizations. The representatives I met from Internet2 and various universities and regional R&E networks were very encouraging and open to providing advice on all aspects of being a network engineer. The level of passion and expertise demonstrated by those I met at TechEx was inspiring.

    During the conference, Internet2 invited me to participate in the "Internet2 Community Leadership and Industry Member Gathering," which was a unique opportunity to discuss how challenges faced by both industry and R&E members could be overcome through collaboration and how innovative solutions could be encouraged and facilitated. I also had the pleasure of sharing my experience from the WINS program during the "SCinet: Advanced Training and Professional Development for Network Engineers - The WINS Experience" presentation, and I hope the presentation encouraged other network engineers to consider participation in SCinet and/or the WINS program, while encouraging discussion about diversity and inclusivity in IT."
  • Sarvani Chadalapaka
    HPC Administrator Photo of Sarvani Chadalapaka
    University of California Merced

    "Attending Internet2 TechEx has been a highly rewarding and a valuable learning experience. I am extremely grateful to have met many leaders in technology. Listening to their stories and learning from their experiences has been an awe-inspiring and a motivating experience. I had the chance not only to attend sessions on applications for research, but also on trust and identity in education and research (TIER). The sessions on advanced networking gave me a solid understanding of how bleeding edge technology is progressing. I am enthusiastic to bring the ideas from the conference back to my peers at UC Merced and share the experience with our community!"
  • Julia Staats
    Network Engineering Photo of Julia Staats

    "Being a network engineer serving the R&E community, I appreciate the opportunity to attend the Technology Exchange. I was glad to be invited to the Women in IT Networking at SC (WINS) panel for a presentation on my experience at SC16, to help spread the word on the program, and raise awareness of the importance of diversity in our industry. Additionally, participating in the work-life integration panel allowed me to meet and exchange ideas with quite a few prominent thinkers, leaders and technologists. I could not have asked for a better discussion!

    What's more, after several weeks of careful planning, organization, and support, I was able to enjoy our associate SFJAZZ's amazing three-site Jazz master class demonstration and performance. Overall, I attended most of the sessions on the advanced networking track, many of them engaging and resourceful. I held several compelling conversations with our colleagues from other institutions, connected and reconnected with new and old friends. I loved the energy, spirit and enthusiasm among the attendees and our Internet2 hosts. Looking forward to the next Internet2 event!"
  • Gabriella Perez
    Research Technology Compliance Specialist Photo of Gabriella Perez
    University of Iowa

    "I found much value in being able to attend the 2017 Internet2 Technology Exchange through the Inclusivity Initiative award.  During my time at the event, I attended a few IT security meetings that gave me a better look at what other universities are doing to address NIST 800-171 and the DFARS clause. This will help me provide valuable input and ideas as I help research groups all around campus achieve compliance. I was also able to attend several other 'out of scope' meetings that peaked my interest, but that I didn't necessarily have much background in. This allowed me to gain new technical knowledge that may possibly benefit my university as I continue to evaluate new services and technologies.

    The first day of the event was focused on inclusivity initiatives and I felt very supported at the Internet2 Tech Exchange meeting. It was great to see such a large audience at a session about including more women in IT. The most valuable perk of attending this conference was meeting people from all over the United States that I can easily reach out to should I need help.  As a young, female professional, this opportunity has empowered me to be more engaged in ensuring that inclusivity in IT is of the utmost importance."
  • Forough Ghahramani
    Associate Director, Rutgers Discovery Informatics Institute Photo of Forough Ghahramani
    Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey

    "In my role at the Rutgers, I lead outreach activities, educational initiatives, as well as partnerships with internal research partners and external industry collaborators, and help develop the strategy for the Rutgers Discovery Informatics Institute. Attendance at TechEX not only enabled me to participate in many technology and professional development sessions directly applicable to the work we do, but also allowed for networking opportunities with other technology experts from academia and industry.

    I had the opportunity to share Rutgers University Discovery Informatics Institute initiatives, and gained insights, new technology ideas, strategies and best practices from the sessions I attended and conference attendees. The breadth and depth of the sessions made the conference valuable to a range of participant levels.  The information and knowledge gained from attending Internet2 TechEX conference is helpful for my work on the Virtual Data Collaboratory (DIBBS-VDC) Project.  Among the people that I met at TechEX included several of the project team members, one of which was from Rutgers. While I had worked with them virtually, I met them for the first time in San Francisco at TechEX!

    I was extremely impressed by Internet2's role as a catalyst for facilitating information sharing and collaboration between the participating organization. The inclusivity events provided unique opportunities to interact with leaders in the Internet2 community from academia and industry, all of which will continue to serve as fantastic connections, and some as mentors. The Women In IT Networking, Inclusivity Panel, the Film, and the Women In Identity sessions were a great opportunity for sharing experiences and insights specific to women in technology.   I have no doubt that the inclusivity award winners and I will continue to support one another through new ideas and fresh strategies. I want to thank the entire Internet2 team for investing in programs such as the Inclusivity Award to welcome newcomers, such as myself to the Internet2 community at TechEX.

    Having recently re-entered the workforce after taking time off to complete my doctorate, this was a great opportunity to refresh my knowledge and extend my network of contacts in the field. The combined opportunity for learning, professional development and networking made my attendance at TechEX17 extremely valuable. I look forward to returning to TechEX 2018 and hopefully bringing some of our students!"
  • Kayla Pierson
    Designer and User Experience Specialist Photo of Kayla Pierson  
    University of Montana

    "The Internet2 Technology Exchange was a great opportunity for me personally and professionally, and I'm very happy I was selected to participate through the Inclusivity Initiative Award for 2017.  First, I had never been to San Francisco before so I was happy to take the time to explore attractions nearby including a walk down to Pier 39 and taking a trip to the Golden Gate Bridge with fellow awardee Sarvani Chadalapaka.

    I fully expected going into the conference that would be immersed in topics and technology well beyond my role as a web designer, and I was not disappointed.  Of the sessions I attended, those that stand out include the Virtual Reality presentation and demonstrations, the "CODE: Debugging the Gender Gap" film screening, and the awardees lunch discussions.  I was also particularly proud of myself for solving the Cryptography Puzzle, because as I understand it, few people did.  Overall, I had a great time and I'm glad I got the opportunity to attend."