SWE Senate Year-End Update

Despite the many challenges of FY20, it has been a productive year for the SWE Senate.
Get to Know the SWE Senate!

“SWE Senate Year-End Update” was written by Alexis McKittrick, FY20 & FY21 Speaker of the Senate.


In our previous blog series about the Senate six months ago, I covered the basics of the Senate’s role in SWE, who serves on the Senate, and how we chose the strategic initiatives we work on for SWE each year. In short, the Senate is the strategic arm of our Society that is comprised of volunteer leaders – Senators, Senate leadership, and the Board of Directors – who develop the forward-facing strategy for the Society as well as analyze impending challenges or opportunities for SWE. Since I first introduced you to our four sub-teams, they have all been hard at work gathering information, weighing risks and benefits to the Society, and developing recommendations on how SWE should move forward on each strategic topic.

Here is a quick refresher on the four FY20 sub-teams within the Senate (with links to each of their introductory blogs from earlier this fiscal year):
  • Diversity & Inclusion: Gender Identity, which considered if SWE should broaden our mission and programs to include underrepresented genders in engineering and technology other than those who identify as women or female
  • SWE Leadership Pipeline, which examined how SWE can better recruit and retain a diversity of leaders into our pipeline to Society leadership
  • Education & Learning, which looked 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
  • Annual Strategic Planning, which is a standing team on the Senate that reviews the Society strategic plan and develops and monitors the metrics that SWE uses to measure our progress as an organization

In the coming days, each of the leaders of these sub-teams will provide an update on the results and recommendations from their team’s work this year, so stay tuned to All Together for more updates from the #SWESenate!

Now that we are ready to communicate the recommendations from this year’s work, I am sure many of you are wondering: what happens with the strategic recommendations that the Senate develops?  First, each sub-team briefs the full Senate on their findings and recommendations to gather consensus on the strategic direction for each topic. (These briefings have already occurred for this year.) Next, the Board of Directors reviews the recommendations to determine which ones require an implementation plan and on what timescale. This is usually done by incorporating the recommendations as actions in the next year’s SWE Operational Plan or as goals for specific members of the Board, committees, or other SWE groups. The Board will also consider the Society budget, availability of resources, and timing and alignment with other, ongoing efforts when considering the recommendations. As needed or requested, Senate sub-teams will present their work to SWE committees or other groups that have interests in the topic they investigated. The Senate will also document any recommendations that should be considered when the next strategic plan is developed and keep a running archive of a summary of work and final recommendations from each fiscal year that can be referenced and implemented as needed in future years.

As we look to our next fiscal year, which is about to begin, I am filled with gratitude for the hard work of every member of the Senate this year. My thanks to my partners in Senate leadership this year – Deputy Speaker of the Senate, Hope Toole Schwalls. And Senate Secretary, Cherie Cain – and to all the sub-team leads for our strategic initiatives – Kristine Barnes, Caity Hines, Heather Wiest, and Cassie Zook. I am also excited to announce that the Senate has already identified two strategic initiatives it will be focusing on over the next fiscal year: (1) how to better support and better include people of color within SWE and (2) a strategic, streamlining review of the Society’s bylaws. Keep a lookout for more information about these and other topics from the Senate in FY21!


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