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Sunday, April 11, 2021

Changing the Diversity Profile in Tech: Linda Calvin

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Growing up on the east side of Indianapolis, Linda Calvin wanted to be a rock star and an actress. Calvin, who graduated from Warren Central HS, thought she knew everything when she was 18.

“My mom worked at IUPUI and that was where I was supposed to go, but I quit and got a job working in a warehouse as an office manager,” says Calvin, who is now the Vice President of IT for Ivy Tech Community College statewide. “When my sister asked me what I was going to do with my life when I was 21, and I had no answer, so she helped me get a job at [then] Wishard Hospital performing computer operations.”

Working on VAX/VMS systems at Wishard opened up possibilities for Calvin. She became adept at writing solution-based code. This experience paved the way for an opportunity at Dow where she continued her systems operations support on VAX/VMS, and moved throughout the Dow organization learning more about the intranet and internet.

“It is true that you can kick start a career by working at a help desk,” shares Calvin. “As long as you are hungry to learn more about tech.”

In her last 10 years with Dow, Calvin served as Global Digital Leader. She was responsible for their mobile app, social media development, data privacy, and social media policy. It was during her tenure at Dow that Calvin earned her undergraduate degree in journalism and she also earned her Doctor of Jurisprudence (J.D.), too.

Calvin loved what she did at Dow in the digital space. She has worked in many roles in communications, including development of digital properties for businesses to sell advertising, digital marketing strategy, and IT.

Her love of IT led Calvin into her perfect job: Vice President of IT for Ivy Tech Community College (ITCC). The job enables Calvin to incorporate how to speak in tech, work with tech, and to engage in communication strategies to bring people together to work on curriculum. “We bring voices together, this is how we reach out to our community,” states Calvin, who loves her job 95% of every day.

Tech is one of the many solutions to combatting poverty. It is proven that diversity fuels innovation when you have a more diverse team working together. Calvin notes that ITCC is the place to go and that they are not the college of last resort.

“We are the place you can go to get the skills you need to get that job and continue along your learning journey. When someone earns one degree or one credential at ITCC, they will be encouraged to attend networking events and seminars,” says Calvin. “ITCC is where a learning journey continues to grow — into leadership.”

Currently, Ivy Tech is currently working on a collaboration with Eleven Fifty Academy titled, “Accelerate Your Tech Career”. Both organizations are focused on building a local tech talent ecosystem that benefits the individual, their employer, and their community and their latest endeavor involves Ivy Tech offering credit from Eleven Fifty Academy’s web development bootcamp towards completion of Ivy Tech’s software development certificate.

“We anticipate our collaboration to continue, as this adds additional value for Ivy Tech student experience,” says Calvin.

One of Calvin’s personal goals is to change the diversity profile in tech. “We need more women of color! A mere three percent of the roles in the tech workforce are held by Black women,” shares Calvin. “If you see us, you can be us. Deliberate change is something we need to have more conversations about. We need to flip the script.”

Calvin is a rock star. She even has the hair to prove it!

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