Midwest Tech Leaders to come together at Intermitten to talk diversity, community

Three years ago, a group of rising tech stars met at a Chicago conference and realized that they all worked in a similar geographic area, but knew little about one another.

They puzzled: How could they have all come from the Ann Arbor, Michigan startup community and not have an understanding of each other beyond their company names? The result of these and many other discussions is Intermitten, a volunteer-run organization that seeks to nurture, grow and promote the Midwest tech community.

On July 12, the grassroots group will hold its third annual event – this time moving from Ann Arbor to center on Detroit to honor the work being done in this tech-focused city, says Heidi Craun, co-founder at Intermitten and one of the organizers of the one-day conference at Detroit’s spectacular Guardian building. Tickets are available now.

“The goal is both to nurture the Midwest ecosystem and highlight it,” Craun says.

What tech leaders share
Founded in 2015, Intermitten seeks to create events that are a platform of everyone in tech, but with an emphasis on women, people of color and other creators who otherwise might not have a voice in the larger community, Craun says. That is why this year’s event is so special – its nine speakers are all female and nearly half are women of color.

“We’re making a space for all female thought leaders,” Craun says.

Speakers include Lauren A. Hood, a respected Detroit community development consultant; Olivia Rae Guterson, chief of staff, director of special projects at Black Tech Detroit; Amanda Lewan, co-founder, Bamboo and Chanita Simms and Chantai Ferguson, founder and vice president of Melanin Tech.

Tech leaders share common issues and goals, Craun says, so having a diverse group of people come together for these one-day conference to talk, mingle and network is meaningful in a variety of ways. Issues such as human resources, workplace bias and the talent pipeline are common to most businesses that specialize in tech, and all of these will be covered during the July 12 event.

All participants are invited to co-work from Bamboo Detroit on that Friday after the event as well as participate in a custom Innovations & Inspirations Tour from the Detroit Experience Factory. That separate tour also will highlight the conference’s three pillars of Diversity, Community and Collaboration, Craun says.

Karen Dybis

Karen is an editor and writer for Corp! Magazine. She graduated from the University of Michigan and has worked at The Mackinac Island Town Crier, The Kalamazoo Gazette, The (Adrian) Daily Telegram and The Oakland Press. Karen was a Detroit News business writer with stints in retail, workplace issues and personal finance. Dybis also was a blogger on Time magazine's "Assignment: Detroit" project. She is author of four Michigan history books, including "Secret Detroit" and "The Witch of Delray."