Donor Highlight: Ashley Vukovits
Ashley Vukovits has accomplished a great deal in the burgeoning Indianapolis technology scene. She joined Interactive Intelligence as Vice President of Finance in 2003, when it was, as Vukovits describes it, “the David of tech companies competing against Goliath companies like Cisco, Avaya and Genesys. I liked the thought of working for the underdog.” As the company grew and Indianapolis became a technology hub, Vukovits oversaw a global accounting team of over 70 people and familiarized herself with the world of technology, an industry with which she was unfamiliar prior to joining Interactive Intelligence. She was appointed CFO of Interactive Intelligence in 2015, and her role expanded to include, as she says, “not only accounting/finance, but also human resources, information technology, information systems, facilities and security.” At the end of 2016, Interactive Intelligence closed a transaction to be acquired by Genesys for $1.4 billion. During her tenure at Interactive Intelligence, she was a Women of Influence Honoree in 2015 and a Leading Light Leadership award nominee in 2015. She now serves as a consulting CFO at Sharpen Technologies, another small tech company that is experiencing rapid growth.
Vukovits was instrumental in the early days of the SoIC’s Informatics Diversity-Enchanced Workforce (iDEW) program, where she was a member of the advisory board. iDEW is a high school program that brings exciting information technology classes to Indianapolis-area schools, creating a pathway to college and careers in IT for underrepresented minority and underprivileged students. In 2017, Ashley and her husband Frank established the Vukovits iDEW Scholarship, which provides financial aid to iDEW students studying at IUPUI. She spoke to us about the scholarship and her experience with the iDEW program.
Vukovits’ early philanthropic experience helped influence her decision to become involved with iDEW. As she remembers, “My first non-profit that I got involved with was Art for a Heart. They offer art classes at school to at-risk youth. I served on the Board but also went into the classrooms to volunteer. That experience really was an eye opener to me on how important it is to spend time and money on the at-risk youth in our community; with a little attention and a little resources, these kids thrived. So when Alvin Givens, a business associate and since then friend, asked if I would be interested in serving on the Advisory Board of iDEW, it was a perfect fit. iDEW definitely checked the box of helping at-risk youth, but it also addressed my growing interest in technology. In addition, another need I became aware of as I started at Interactive was the lack of diversity in technology. Particularly missing were females, blacks and Hispanics. I love that iDEW focuses on computer science in inter city schools where we can tap into the diversity found in those schools.”
Vukovits’ involvement with the iDEW program coincided with the sale of Interactive Intelligence, and this time of professional change helped to influence her decision to establish the Vukovits iDEW Scholarship. “After the sale of Interactive Intelligence to Genesys, I left to explore other opportunities. One of the areas I wanted to focus on was how to continue making a difference in helping to diversity the Indiana technology talent pool. By establishing the Vukovits iDEW Scholarship, my husband and I hope that we can make a difference in helping minority students pursue computer science in college.” Vukovits believes that a diversified technology workforce not only benefits the workers themselves, but positively impacts the field as a whole. “Today when software is created, most of the time an Agile methodology is used, where there is much more collaboration between developers than there ever has been in the past. If all the people contributing to that team look the same and come from the same background, they may not create a well-rounded product for all users. In addition, I believe all kids should have an opportunity to pursue computer sciences if they have an interest. CS requires a different way of thinking and problem-solving. Every kid that has those skills will be so marketable to companies.”
Ashley believes philanthropy can be a powerful force for good. “I think it is important that we give back to our community. Whether you can do that through volunteering or giving money, all means are critical. It is important to pick a cause that is meaningful to you because then you become passionate about it. Whether that is the elderly, the military, youth or animals, if we all help out it will only make the world a better place.” If you are interested in learning how to contribute to this scholarship, or if you would like to contribute to SoIC in another way, please contact SoIC’s director of development Stacy Zearing at firstname.lastname@example.org.