SOUTHFIELD—The Michigan Council of Women in Technology Foundation named Melanie Kalmar its “Woman of the Year in Technology.” Kalmar is corporate vice president, chief information officer (CIO) and chief digital officer at Dow Inc., the Midland-based chemical industry giant.

The fifth MCWT award recognizes women in Michigan leading or driving change for other women in technology careers or fields of study. MCWT Foundation President and Flagstar Bank Executive Vice President and CIO Jennifer Charters presented the honor at the nonprofit’s eighth annual Executive Connection Summit on May 11. The virtual event, sponsored by Ford Motor Co., General Motors Co. and Stellantis N.V., enabled opportunities for more than 1,000 participants to connect, learn and engage with leaders in the technology community.

“MCWT seeks to shine a light on the inspirational changemakers in Michigan’s technology community,” Charters said. “Each of our nominees possess the drive, passion and ambition to lift up others and provide on-ramps to provide opportunities for women of all ages. These women are shaping our future and the future of the next generation of female leaders.”

Kalmar encourages and advances women in technology at all career levels, whether through her work with MCWT, in the community, or as CIO and chief digital officer of Dow. In her role as MCWT’s president in 2020, she strengthened programs that reach women professionals, including additional mentoring opportunities, a resurgence of virtual monthly professional development sessions, and the launch of its first Leadership Clinic. She represents women in IT at regional and national events, where she is both a role model and advocate for female representation in technology.

At Dow, she is responsible for driving the global strategy for information technology and digital capabilities to advance Dow’s growth and business strategies, and is currently leading the organization through a significant digital transformation. She takes time to mentor and speak with early career women, interns and prospective employees, and holds several leadership roles within Dow focused on driving the company’s diversity and inclusion strategy and priorities.

“Getting this award in this year has even greater meaning for me – the year we all had to give a little more of ourselves to persevere,” Kalmar said. “I want to acknowledge all women out there who, likewise, continue to do what they need to do, and go a little beyond. Continue to be there for each other. And be the spark that inspires young girls and women, gives them opportunities and confidence, and helps ensure we transform Michigan into the No. 1 state for women in technology.”

The following women received honorable mentions in different categories for their significant contributions:

  • Engagement—Carey Pachla, CEO, FastTekGlobal, a Lvionia-based IT staffing and managed services company
  • Up and Coming Woman—Nicole Scheffler, enterprise engineering manager, VMware, the cloud computing and virtualization technology company
  • Education—Sandy Christlieb, assistant director of women in engineering, Michigan State University
  • Culture Transformation—Rekha Wunnava, global director of automotive eesign and build IT, Ford

MCWT reviewed the award nominations to identify the woman who best personified its mission of inspiring and growing women in IT. The nonprofit works to broadly reach young girls to encourage them to consider technology and deeply connects with women who choose the IT path—with the continued support of its 120 partners and over 1,000 members.

With a theme of “Shaping Your Digital Narrative,” the Executive Connection Summit featured a variety of speakers and panel discussions highlighting how technology is impacting people in surprising and unintended ways. Exhibitor sponsors include Accenture, AT&T, CBI Secure, CheckPoint, Comerica, Epitec, EY, HPE, Informatica, Intel, NTT, Road Ready, and V2Soft.

The Michigan Council of Women in Technology Foundation supports Michigan’s female IT workforce, students, corporate partners, schools and the overall community with programming, scholarships, networking, learning, mentoring, and technology experiences. Find more information at www.mcwt.org and connect via LinkedIn, Facebook and YouTube.