Tech 25 winner Stephanie Zircher brings equitable access to Computer Science education
As Indiana’s tech community continues to grow and mature, it’s getting harder and harder to narrow down the winners for our annual Tech 25 Awards program. There is a wealth of tech talent in the Hoosier state, and they are making incredible moves. Join us in celebrating the Tech 25 class of 2021 through this profile series and learn a bit more about each winner.
Stephanie Zircher is the Vice President of Programs at Nextech where she leads educator and student programs, such as district recruitment, teacher training, and the expansion of K-12 student experiences. After graduating from Purdue University, she joined ExactTarget as the Manager of Training in 2005 and has been with Nextech since 2015.
In her 15 years working in the Indiana tech industry, Stephanie realized people of all backgrounds—not just coders—can be successful in tech and has dedicated her career to making that happen. Stephanie is on the ECEP-IN Steering Committee, a part of the AI4K12 working team, and leads the Code.org Regional Partner Advisory Group. When not working, Steph can be found with her three boys and husband on a soccer field, golf course, sidelines at a swim meet, or listening to melodic tuba.
What led you to the tech industry and this occupation? What was your first job in tech?
I applied on a whim for ExactTarget (email marketing, huh?) and started as the Manager of Training in 2005. From day one, I knew I was where I wanted to be. The environment, high performance standards, and amazing culture were inspiring and so fun.
As I grew there, I saw the passion inside Indiana’s tech industry from all levels and knew I would spend my career in the field. When Salesforce acquired ExactTarget, and after having my third child, I got involved with the new ExactTarget foundation, Nextech. I volunteered with a fledgling summer program and fell in love.
I loved working in education and with schools and knew that I could make a difference. There is something special about finding a place and field you love AND changing a kid’s future while you do it.
When you think of a day in your life, what are the main work activities you do or responsibilities you have?
I know it sounds cliche, but no two days are alike, especially over the past year. Nextech brings equitable access to CS education for students in K-12 across the entire state of Indiana—and that is what I’m striving to do each and every day.
We think big, smart and build things. Try things out, see if they work, find partnerships. I love creating and nurturing relationships with new school districts and teachers, creating and evolving professional development programs, and strategizing about student programs. We have an amazing team (shout out to them; they are truly the backbone). Together, we get stuff done.
What resources would you recommend to those who want to learn more or advance their skills in this occupation?
When you become an advocate for K-12 CS Education, you spend a lot of time with many great people. From teachers that are doing the work in the classroom, to researchers in the state and nationally, to organizations doing this work across the nation (and the world), I am always learning from amazing, smart people that know a whole lot more than me. My favorite people (and resources) can be found here:
- Expanding Computer Education Pathways
- Code.org Advocacy Coalition (check out the 2020 State of CS Report if you need somewhere to start)
Stephanie Zircher is a Tech 25 winner who is helping to grow and improve the tech landscape of Indiana. She was nominated by her President, Karen Jung.
Visit the Indianapolis Business Journal website to see the full listing and celebration of the 2021 Tech 25 honorees in the joint CTO of the Year and Tech 25 Awards supplement. You can also watch a video of the livestream from the CTO of the Year and Tech 25 Awards virtual event.
Read more coverage of the Tech 25 in this Index Feature Story and view and tag the gallery of photos from the event on Facebook.