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A Conversation With Internet2 Community Member Carrie Regenstein on her Leadership in Higher Education, Contributions to InCommon, and Mentorship of Women IT Professionals

Dec 09, 2019, by Taleitha Pytlowanyj
Tags: Frontpage News, InCommon, InCommon Federation, Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative

Throughout her career, Carrie Regenstein has been a leader in higher education IT and an advocate for women in IT. One of Carrie’s passions has been to focus on ways new technologies can serve students, faculty, and staff. Her path began as an academic technologist and led to her becoming a leader in the InCommon community, a role she took on with enthusiasm because of the services it could enable on her campus as well as across the larger higher education community.

When asked what motivated her to get involved with the Internet2 community, Carrie shared, “When I went to UW-Madison in 2001, and was asked to lead security and policy, I was introduced to a whole new world of technologists and innovators. Hanging out with Ken Klingenstein at national meetings, I came to learn that Shibboleth 1.0 (about to be sent out into the world!) was not just a cool technology project; it had the potential to transform instruction – especially distance learning across institutions – and research, by making it possible for researchers to work together across institutions, which is how they like to work.”

She went on to say, “With leaders of campus services, I became engaged in identity management work on the UW-Madison campus and throughout the UW System. And, nationally, it was great to be part of the team that helped launch InCommon. In all cases, it seemed clear to me that by using a three-pronged framework of technology, policy, and services, we could have strong teams for each of the components while becoming more clear about how the three elements interact. A wonderful ‘Aha!’ moment was the day that Ken gave a presentation at EDUCAUSE where he did a role-play as a professor teaching a distance learning course. It was transformative because academic technologists could now ‘get’ what all that ‘Shibboleth stuff’ was all about.”

While Carrie has been fortunate to have experienced many memorable moments throughout her professional career, she shared one that stood out was the opportunity to develop brand new services for students and faculty: “When I was at Cornell, we initiated Net-Print, which ultimately served the university for many years. It was the first time we could offer networked printing services in computer labs in the new microcomputer environment.”

She went on to say, “Although there were a variety of individualized and customized services to support faculty’s use of technology in instruction, we also had the chance to upgrade the classroom technology infrastructure across the board. For the first time, faculty would find the same technology in many more of their classrooms; this standardization of technology and service came as a big relief for faculty in many different disciplines. I simply felt lucky to be in the ‘right place at the right time.’”

While serving as the associate CIO and associate director of division of information technology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Regenstein became the first chair of the Internet2 InCommon Steering Committee. Upon her retirement, the steering committee established an award in recognition of Carrie’s services and impact on the community. This award was a natural match with the Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative Steering Committee’s goals, which focuses on support for emerging information technology women professionals to attend Internet2 technical conferences. 

In 2014, the Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative Award in Recognition of Carrie Regenstein was created. In honoring Carrie, consideration for the award was given to a woman recognized as a “generalist,” that is, an integrator, whose focus was on the use of technology to serve the faculty, staff, and students of her institution. From 2014 to 2018, five women were given the opportunity to attend the Internet2 Technology Exchange. A special goal of the awardees’ attendance at the event was to make a difference by bringing back new technology ideas and strategies to her institution.

For Carrie, having her peers in the InCommon/Internet2 community recognize her by giving an award in her honor was very gratifying and humbling. She has always considered it to be a privilege to work in higher education, partially because of the opportunity to work with extraordinarily talented professionals.

When asked what diversity, equity, and inclusion meant to her, Carrie expressed: “Diversity, equity and inclusion literally means everything to me. Once we were working with networked microcomputers, it was clear that all the individual technologies had to work with each other. And as students, faculty, and staff became more sophisticated in their technology use, all of the services had to work smoothly with each other, too. This is the work of teams, not just individuals.”

She elaborated, “High-functioning teams are made up of individuals of varied backgrounds, skills, perspectives, learning strategies, and communication styles. The more diverse and inclusive the team, the better the outcomes. I honestly believe that all of us are smarter than any of us. And we have to ensure that each individual feels encouraged to participate openly, honestly, and comfortably. Every team member has a lot to offer, and the more diverse the group, the more robust the work outcomes will be.”

For the five years the award was given, Carrie attended each of the events to serve as a mentor to the awardees. She imparted words of encouragement, support, and advice from her own personal experience and career to each awardee, including the Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative scholarship awardees and Network Startup Resource Center (NSRC)-Internet2 fellows. The time and care she showed toward the awardees was invaluable and appreciated. Many awardees have expressed the time Carrie spent with them enhanced their experience and the knowledge they gained from their attendance at the Technology Exchange.

Tomomi Imamura, recipient of the 2018 Technology Exchange Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative Award in Recognition of Carrie Regenstein, had this to say: “Meeting with Carrie Regenstein, for whom my award is named, was an especially meaningful opportunity for me. Carrie emphasized that being female or underrepresented IT professional doesn’t undermine our abilities.”

Iris R. Niestas, 2018 Technology Exchange Internet2 Inclusivity Initiative scholarship awardee, shared: “One of the unique opportunities that resulted from having been selected as an award recipient was the mentorship opportunity. Breakfast with Carrie Regenstein as well as individual one-on-one time with her was a great surprise where she provided us with insightful conversation about some of the challenges we face in IT. Receiving career guidance from Mrs. Regenstein and other senior Internet2 staff members was invaluable.”

It is clear that Carrie left an impact on the awardees, but they too left an impact on her: “The awardees have been great! They arrive with different experiences and perspectives, and contribute in myriad ways. They have all given me confidence and hope in the future of higher education’s information technology profession. I am so grateful to Internet2 for its support and nurturing of these talented professionals.”

When asked what advice she has for current and future awardees (and the community), she shared, “When considering your career path, ask yourself: ‘How do I like to spend my time?’ and ‘What results do I like to see for my work?’ In addition, of course to the business of earning a living and matching your skill sets to a position, these questions will help you evaluate opportunities in important ways. We work many hour – and for many years – so it’s important to find joy in the workplace. Rather than constantly seeking a ladder to climb in your career, think about the possibilities that a jungle gym can offer: moving laterally to the right or left can provide learning opportunities that can change your perspective – and your path.”

She continued, “Our lives are like a book with different chapters. In any given chapter, we may not feel that ‘we have it all.’ And that’s fine. Our physical and mental health and relationships are critical to our happiness and success, and have to be maintained throughout all the chapters. It’s OK to focus more on career during some chapters and less on career in others. We can ‘have it all’ over time, and that’s a lot less stressful than trying to ‘have it all’ all the time.”

Internet2, the community, and awardees are grateful to Carrie for all her contributions, leadership, mentorship, and support over the years. She has led by example and continues to be impactful. Thank you, Carrie!