WE Local conferences in the U.S. this year attracted 2,767 attendees for professional development, networking and fun in Baltimore, Maryland; Tampa, Florida; St. Louis, Missouri; Denver, Colorado; and Bellevue, Washington. WE Local conferences in the U.S. are led by SWE headquarters with assistance from the WE Local Advisory Board (LAB) and WE Local Host Committees (LHC).
Two of SWE’s LHC Chairs reflect on their experience leading the execution of WE Local in their host city.
Dana Day, Integration Engineer, The Boeing Company, WE Local Bellevue Chair
Serving as the 2019 WE Local Bellevue Chair was a big move out of my outreach-planning-only comfort zone. It was important for me to work in a different capacity to help serve SWE’s mission, work closely with HQ, and have an impact on a developing program. I really loved seeing how SWE plans these big, but local, conferences and how many different components are in flux at the same time.
Personally and professionally, I saw growth over the last eight months. I built my local host committee, which was the first time I was in charge of building a team! I was responsible for breaking down the big picture of the conference into bite-sized tactical plans for my committee. I was the literal face of the conference, and people expected me to know everything about the conference (which was really intimidating, again I have spent most of the last 10 years of my SWE career just talking outreach!). But I did it!
I was most impressed with my committee during the conference – they were troubleshooting, filling in gaps, and making it all happen behind the scenes. Just knowing they all had my back to make this happen was a great gift. For example, after I was done with kicking off Wake Up WE Local, I came back to my seat with text messages and virtual high fives from my SWEster community – that’s a great feeling I won’t soon forget.
Megan Schulze, Project Manager, Dewberry, WE Local Denver Chair
Serving as the WE Local Denver LHC Chair was a perfect opportunity to exercise my passion for SWE and project management. The position required coordination and management of 15 liaisons on the Denver subcommittee who were physically located all over the U.S. – providing practical experience I can apply to my professional life.
The role of LHC Chair was no small task, even with the engineering equivalent of the Avengers on my side. With a full-time career in existing building construction, a wildly crazy travel schedule, and studying for a PE exam, lots of juggling was required to lead the team to completion through a vast array of virtual meeting resources.
When you look at the role of LHC Chair as a whole, it is a dynamic position, needing flexibility, ingenuity and someone who can drive results. I can honestly say it has been my favorite and most rewarding SWE role in the 12 years I have been serving in the society.
Being LHC Chair was incredibly fun. One of my favorite moments at WE Local Denver was at the Networking Breakfast on Saturday Morning. Our emcee for the breakfast wasn’t able to make it to the conference and I had to fill in as emcee of the day. My high-spirited and lively attitude may have come across as a little frightening to some that early in the morning – especially since there was no coffee present at the breakfast. I could see the side eyes occurring, quiet conversations, a sheer panic across the faces of attendees. Where is the coffee? Cue Emcee Megan of “Good Day Denver” barking on the microphone for coffee. The day had been saved, and conversations, laughter and niche networking were flowing just like the coffee. That’s what I love about WE Local – bringing people together, letting us all just be who we are to find something in common, even if that is a caffeine dependency.
One thing that brings joy to my heart and makes all those volunteer hours’ worth it are the smiles on the attendees’ faces. I truly believe the forum of WE Local provides opportunity like no other professional conference to learn socially. Our one-on-one interaction with each other drives not only our own personal goals forward, but also the SWE mission.
If you enjoyed a WE Local this year, consider volunteering on an LHC in one of the upcoming 2020 WE Local conferences in the U.S. You do not have to live in that city to be involved (33 percent of the Denver LHC was from a section outside of Denver). As a volunteer on LHC, you can create an amazing local experience that represents the unique style and flavor of your local area.