Get to Know the SWE Senate!

Learn about the role of SWE's Senate, and stay tuned in the coming weeks for more blogs in this Senate series, which will detail what the four FY20 Senate sub-teams are working on for SWE this year!

Get to Know the SWE Senate!

“Get to Know the SWE Senate” was written by Alexis McKittrick, FY20 & FY21 Speaker of the Senate.


Have you ever wondered where SWE’s vision and strategic plan come from and who develops them? They are owned by the SWE Senate, which is the strategic arm of our Society. It is comprised of volunteer leaders who tackle the forward-facing vision for the Society as well as analyze any threats or opportunities that are coming and make corresponding recommendations on how SWE should modify its strategic plan. The Society strategic plan is reviewed every year for potential revisions or adjustments, and a new, refreshed plan is developed every 3-5 years. The current strategic plan runs through the end of next fiscal year (FY21) and can be found here.

I am proud to serve as SWE’s FY20 and FY21 Speaker of the Senate. In this role, I have the privilege of leading the SWE Senate as well as serving on SWE’s Board of Directors. The Senate has 4 sub-teams this fiscal year – one team that is conducting the annual review of SWE’s strategic plan and three that each have distinct strategic initiatives they are investigating for SWE. In August, the Senate met in Wichita, Kansas to discuss the emerging trends that organizations need to consider in their strategies and which ones were most important to consider for SWE’s forward-looking strategy. Three topics emerged as the most crucial to focus on as Senate Strategic Initiatives in FY20:

  • SWE Leadership Pipeline, which examines how SWE can better recruit and retain a diversity of leaders into our pipeline to Society leadership
  • Education & Learning, which is looking at both near- and long-term educational and learning trends to see how SWE should adapt our own operations to meet the needs of the members of the future
  • Diversity & Inclusion, with a specific focus on examining if SWE should broaden our mission to include underrepresented genders in engineering and technology other than those who identify as women or female

You will hear more about these Strategic Initiatives from the members of the Senate leading them in subsequent blog posts in this series, so keep an eye out for more #SWESenate blogs!

The Senate is comprised of elected Senators, the Senate leadership, and the SWE Board of Directors. Senators are the voting members of the Senate that lead our strategic initiatives and make decisions regarding Senate business, including voting on any potential changes to our Society’s bylaws. Senate leadership and the Board of Directors are non-voting members of the Senate. They participate in all Senate discussions, deliberations, and sub-team work, but they do not vote on the Society business that comes before the Senate. You can find more information about the Senate here.

The Senate leadership team includes the Speaker, the Deputy Speaker, and the Secretary. The Deputy Speaker leads the annual strategic planning efforts for the Senate. The Secretary manages internal and external Senate communications and related initiatives. Each Strategic Initiative sub-team also has a lead who is appointed by the Speaker. I would like to introduce the other leaders of the FY20 Senate and its sub-teams:

  • Deputy Speaker of the Senate & Annual Strategic Planning Lead – Hope Toole Schwalls
  • Senate Secretary – Cherie Cain
  • Strategic Initiative Lead – Leadership Pipeline – Cassandra Zook
  • Strategic Initiative Lead – Education & Learning – Heather Wiest
  • Strategic Initiative Lead – Diversity & Inclusion – Caity Hines

Stay tuned in the coming weeks for more blogs in this Senate series, which will detail what the four FY20 Senate sub-teams are working on for SWE this year!

FY20 SWE Senate
FY20 SWE Senate after a successful Senate meeting at WE19 in Anaheim, CA
About the Author

Alexis McKittrick headshotAlexis McKittrick, Ph.D., is the SWE Speaker of the Senate for FY20 and FY21. She has been a volunteer leader in SWE for almost 15 years and is currently serving her 2nd term on SWE’s Board of Directors. Alexis works for IDA Science & Technology Policy Institute in Washington, DC conducting research and analysis to inform issues at the intersection of science, engineering, and public policy.

Contact e-mail: senate-speaker@swe.org

  • Cecília says:

    Great material! I am very proud and happy to be part of this team.

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