ARA aspires to Attract, Retain, and Advance women in technology by cultivating and nurturing relationships via mentorship and events/programs, thereby building strong female leaders to support and influence the IT community.
The concept for ARA began quite simply ― it started eight years ago as a quarterly dinner between three IT professionals and friends living in Chicago. The dinner offered a way to discuss general industry trends and advice for women working in IT.
Over the years, more friends and colleagues started joining in these dinners, offering insights, tips and career advice. Pretty soon, these “small dinners with friends” blossomed into major events each quarter – with a current list of 150+ senior women IT executives, the group officially named itself the Chicago Executive Women’s Networking Group.
Sensing an interest and need for a formal organization to provide opportunities for women in IT to learn and advance their careers, ClearEdge Marketing CEO and Founder Leslie Vickrey, Harvey Nash Managing Director and Vice President Jane Gilligan, and McCann Partners President and Founder Megan McCann, formally founded ARA in early 2013.
ARA works with its mentors and mentees in two ways. First, through quarterly events that range from panel and roundtable discussions to speed mentoring sessions. Second, via in-person mentoring sessions after a mentee and mentor have been matched.