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IDEAL IT: Celebrating Success and Planning for the Future

Tuesday, March 19, 2019

IDEAL IT, a CIO Council-sponsored strategic initiative, advances innovative approaches for increasing diversity, inclusion, equity, and access across the IT Community at Stanford. It directly supports the Stanford Presidential IDEAL initiative.

IDEAL IT currently consists of four sub-programs or “pillars,” including the Neurodiversity at Stanford University IT Pilot, Stanford Women in Technology (Stanford WIT), the Year Up Internship Program, and IDEAL IT Foundations. Learn more about these sub-programs on the IDEAL IT website or in this related article, Advancing Diversity and Inclusion with IDEAL IT.

Questions or comments? Contact IDEAL IT Program Lead Dani Aivazian at

One new hire as a direct result of IDEAL IT. Five new interns. A Stanford Women in Technology community of over 300 engaged members. Growing excitement regarding diversity and inclusion in the IT Community at Stanford.

These are just some of the milestones and successes realized by IDEAL IT in the past six months since launch. And the energy behind this new program isn’t slowing down any time soon. Simultaneous to celebrating IDEAL IT’s accomplishments so far, University IT (UIT) and the IT Community are looking to the future as we chart next steps for the program.

New diversity and inclusion initiatives on the horizon

Towards the end of 2018, IDEAL IT Program Lead Dani Aivazian facilitated ideation workshops to get IT Community input about the program and to brainstorm next steps. These workshops, along with ongoing community feedback, helped identify three new “pillars” that are now in the pipeline for IDEAL IT.

  1. Learning curriculum for reducing bias: Leveraging existing resources and best practices at Stanford and beyond, UIT is partnering with Business Affairs HR to develop a learning curriculum focused on reckoning with and reducing bias in the workplace. This curriculum will be available to the IT Community and Business Affairs staff starting this summer.

  2. People of Color in Technology (POC-IT) affinity group: As part of IDEAL IT’s goal to launch one new sub-program a year, this new Stanford-wide affinity group will kick off in the late summer or early fall and will be modeled after the structure of Stanford WIT.

  3. Diversification of IT hiring: UIT will explore additional ways to diversify hiring. The next area of focus in this regard is on recruiting military veterans who want to transition into the civilian workplace.

Program updates and accomplishments

The original pillars of the IDEAL IT program kicked into high gear over the past six months, experiencing growth, evolution, and many notable successes. Below is a snapshot of the current state of affairs for each of these IDEAL IT sub-programs.

Neurodiversity at Stanford (UIT Pilot)

Program lead: Anne Pinkowski, University IT

Key milestones

In January 2019, University IT (UIT) hired its first new employee of the pilot through close partnership with Neurodiversity Pathways.

The project team is now focused on awareness-building efforts that educate staff about neurodiversity and its value in the workplace. This includes “brown bag” workshops facilitated by Neurodiversity Pathways and a toolkit of information for staff to increase their understanding of neurodiversity and offer best practices that will benefit both neurodiverse and neurotypical staff alike.

Approximately 150 UIT staff have participated in the brown bag workshops, which will continue throughout the spring and summer quarters and soon be opened up to other campus IT organizations beyond UIT who would like to learn more about neurodiversity.

Next up

To celebrate Autism Awareness month, IDEAL IT will host a private screening of Intelligent Lives on April 30. This event is open to all Stanford faculty, staff, and students with a SUNet ID. Learn more and sign up »

Related information

Year Up Internship Program

Program Lead: Jon Russell, University IT

Key milestones

Throughout the fall, program leads focused on building a partnership with Year Up and establishing a framework that will allow us to roll out this internship program to other units and schools across the IT Community.

In January 2019, five interns were hired from Year Up to join UIT’s Service Desk, the Information Security Office (ISO), and School of Medicine Information Resources and Technology (SoM IRT) teams. These six-month internships provide hands-on experience to complement the Year Up training.

Next up

The upcoming goal is to scale the number of Year Up interns from five to 15 over the next several months. Our goal is that these 15 interns will be placed with teams across the IT Community beginning in July. If you and your team are interested in hosting a Year Up intern, please contact Jon Russell (

Related information

Stanford Women in Technology (Stanford WIT)

Program Lead: Novita Rogers, School of Humanities and Sciences

Key milestones

The Stanford WIT affinity group — representing a community of women, non-binary people, and allies of all genders who work in technology — is now over 300 members strong and draws significant interest and engagement from the campus community. Bi-monthly meetings average around 140 attendees in person and on Zoom.

More than 50 staff from across Stanford volunteer their time, energy, and creativity with Stanford WIT’s various committees.

Next Up

Stanford WIT’s next general meeting will be in May. In the meantime, get involved by joining the active community on Slack, subscribing to the mailing list, or volunteering to serve on a committee. Contact Novita Rogers if you would like to volunteer (

Related information

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