Each month throughout the year, we’ll be spotlighting a different SWE Affinity Group (AG). The SWE Affinity Groups’ (AGs) mission is to bring together communities that share similar interests and backgrounds that support the diversity, equity, and inclusion (DE&I) strategic goals of SWE.
SWE Affinity Group goals:
- Develop a sense of community in the Affinity Groups fostering an inclusive environment where people discuss experiences in their engineering career, online and offline.
- Provide professional development opportunities enabling and sponsoring leadership experiences, networking and mentorship.
- Empower members through highlighting accomplishments and supporting diversity in the SWE Leadership pipeline, Awards, and Scholarships.
SWE Affinity Groups are organized into DE&I AGs and Business Interests AGs. DE&I AGs are focused on the needs of social minority populations and support initiatives tailored to serve these communities. Business Interest AGs are loosely centered around the members’ business environment and career experiences.
For the month of March, we are excited to highlight SWE’s Late Career & Retiree (LCR) Affinity Group, a Business Interest AG.
March coincides with the national “ReFIRED but not Retired” day on March 1. For the SWE Late Career & Retiree Affinity Group, “ReFIRED” means we continue to be fired up for life. This is in keeping with our energetic members, even though many may be retired from their careers, they are very busy! They volunteer, RV around the country, bird-watch, and more.
Get to know the goals of the Late Career & Retiree Affinity Group!
What are the overall goals of the Late Career & Retiree Affinity Group?
- To close the gap in programming for the late career and retiree SWE members demographic, including, but not limited to: topics suitable to this demographic, seasoned leader programs, and more technical pathways.
- To channel/capitalize on a deep commitment by these SWE members to giving back and offering opportunities to connect at the global, national and local levels.
- To address these SWE members’ concerns about the lack of appreciation and acknowledgement given to long-standing members of the organization.
- To have a pulse on the needs, recommendations, and concerns of late career and retiree members.
- To be a pathway for communication to SWE’s BOD (Board of Directors).
Does the Late Career & Retiree Affinity Group have regular meetings? If so, when and how often? What takes place during a typical meeting?
The LCR Affinity Group has both quarterly member meetings and monthly business meetings. During the monthly leadership meetings, we plan for upcoming events, address ways to further engage members during conferences, at the local section and in between through our connections committees. Approximately eight people attend each meeting.
The quarterly member meetings are open to all members. We generally have approximately 40 people attending. Topics range from current business updates to fun social activities. For December, we held a virtual social where members showcased and displayed their favorite SWE swag through the decades. We spent time networking and playing a fun SWE Scattergory game too. Read more about it in our last newsletter.
How is the Late Career & Retiree Affinity Group working to reach and include new members?
We have been hosting a session during the annual conference. We have a facebook group with 289 members. We publish a bi-monthly newsletter.
Why is the Late Career & Retiree Affinity Group important to its members?
This is a place where late career and retirees can feel their contributions to SWE are still valuable. It’s a place where we talk about topics of interest to us. Many of us feel very dedicated to the Society and we want ways to continue to give back. An example is local section engagement. While many may not want to hold office, we want to share our deep experience with others and seek ways to mentor current leadership and provide guidance when and where needed.
Where would you direct those interested in joining or learning more about the Late Career & Retiree Affinity Group?
- Join our facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/groups/SWESeniorMemberEngagementAG
- Read our last Newsletter, and subscribe to stay up to date.
- Join our meetings by sending an email to email@example.com
- Our next Monthly Leadership Meeting is April 10th and our next Quarterly Member Meeting is June 6 at 2pm PST / 5pm EST. Remember to look for us at WE21!
Meet the Late Career & Retiree Affinity Group members!
Charlotte Wang Wagner, F. SWE
Co-lead, Late Career & Retiree Affinity Group (LCR AG)
SWE Distinguished Service Award recipient
Life member; SWE member since: 1986
Charlotte Wagner wanted to form this group to give late career and retired members a place to contribute to SWE. An ulterior motive, is she formed this group in her “early part of late career”, so she can benefit from the group for years to come.
Charlotte Wagner graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park, in December, 1990 with a BS degree in Mechanical Engineering. She has over 27 years of experience in the building energy efficiency industry, currently serving at the executive management level developing cohesive teams. Ms. Wagner is currently the General Manager, Southern California Branch, Schneider Electric, US Digital Buildings. Her certifications include the P.E., LEED AP BD+C, CEM, and CA General Contractor’s A license. She has been involved in SWE (Society of Women Engineers) for over 30 years and is a Life Member, Fellow, and Distinguished Service Award recipient. She is currently the co-lead of SWE’s Late Career and Retiree affinity group, which she helped to found. Ms. Wagner is a Board Member and Mentor Committee Chair of the Council on Women in Energy and Environmental Leadership (CWEEL) of Association of Energy Engineers (AEE).
Debra Kimberling, F. SWE
Mechanical / Aerospace Engineer
Co-lead, Late Career & Retiree Affinity Group (LCR AG),
Past SWE Region B Director
Life member; Ada Pressman member;
SWE member since: 1990
Debra Kimberling wanted to form this group as a way to give late career and retiree members a larger voice and a way to re-engage in SWE. It has been a joy working with SWE’s most seasoned members, tapping into their life’s experiences, and meeting new friends along the way.
Debra is the president of the San Diego County Engineering Council and the co-lead for the SWE Late Career & Retiree Affinity Group, of which she helped found. She is also the SWENext Chair for her local San Diego section and a member of the SWE Outreach Publications Committee. A SWE Fellow and 30-year SWE member, she is also a past Section President and Region B Director.
Recently retired after a 35-year career that spanned industry, academia and government, she was a technical leader at Solar Turbines and founded their first Employee Resource Group. Debra also worked at General Dynamics Space Systems Division, Naval Ocean Systems Center and Purdue University. She holds a MS AA from University of Washington and a BS Engineering Science from Arizona State. Today Debra enjoys gardening, camping, exercising and long walks in the great outdoors. She is a member of the Improv Troupe “Late Bloomers”.
Janet L. (Jan) Williams, F. SWE
Mechanical undergrad/Civil-Const Management grad
Conference Engagement Subgroup Co-Lead, Late Career & Retiree Affinity Group
SWE Conference Advisory Board & WELocal Advisory Board member
SWE Distinguished Service Award recipient
SWE member since: 1984
Jan Williams is recently retired after a 37-year career working as an engineer, technical manager, and senior consultant at multiple national security sites while employed at Sandia National Laboratories an Leidos, Inc. She worked in infrastructure and facilities, site planning, and project/program management in Albuquerque NM, with assignments in Washington, DC and the United Kingdom. A Fellow of SWE since 2009 as well as 2017 recipient of the Distinguished Service Award, she has advocated passionately for STEM education and outreach, working to increase the number of women and minorities in engineering and computer science. She currently serves on the Alumni Board of the UMKC School of Computing and Engineering. She has served on numerous SWE committees and is currently serving on the Conference Advisory Board as well as the WE Local Advisory Board.
Jan holds a BS in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Missouri, Kansas City, where she was named a Distinguished Engineering Alumna in 1991, as well as an MS in Civil Engineering with a focus in Construction Management from the University of New Mexico. Jan is an avid swimmer who participates in team triathlon events along with SWE Board member Kerrie Greenfelder.
Cecilia (Ceal) D. Craig, PhD, F. SWE
Scribe & Newsletter Editor, LCR AG
SWE member since: 1971
Dr. Craig earned a BSME (Mechanical Engineering) from The Ohio State University (1974). Earning an MSE (Mechanical Engineering) from California State University, Fullerton, while working at Rockwell Int’l in Anaheim CA, she was active in the LA-Orange County section. After moving to Dallas for Xerox and active in the Dallas area section, she moved to northern California in 1985 with Xerox, where she was active in the Santa Clara Valley section for over a decade, in various roles including Section Rep & Treasurer. Taking a break from SWE, she continued to work in mid-level and senior high-tech management roles, rising to Senior Director. After Dr. Craig taught high school math for a year and became involved with For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology (FIRST) programs. She then earned a PhD in Education (Walden University), studying the influence of FIRST on young women’s career decisions. Dr. Craig reengaged with the Santa Clara Valley section ten years ago and retired from paid work in 2011, she now spends most days volunteering: San Francisco Bay Wildlife Society, Treasurer; VP, Western Region Robotics Forum; SWE SCV Treasurer. She was awarded SWE Fellow grade in 2017. An active birder, she and her husband, married 49 years, have five cats and a 26-year-old bird.
Vicki S. Johnson, PhD, F.SWE, CSEP
Local Section Engagement Subgroup Lead, Late Career & Retiree Affinity Group
Life member; SWE member since: 1997
Dr. Johnson received the first PhD in Aerospace Engineering awarded to a female at the University of Kansas in 1989. Over a period of 43 years, she worked at NASA-Langley Research Center, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Cessna Aircraft Company, and other organizations in the areas of research and development, program management, and education.
A member of the Wichita Area Section of SWE, Vicki signed the petition to start the LCR affinity group and found a home where her contribution could make a difference for other LCR SWE members. She retired from Spirit Aerosystems in August 2020 and is spending the winter in Arizona in her RV practicing skeet shooting while still doing all her other volunteer activities, a few of which include: serving as Chair of the Wichita Section of the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AIAA), Chair of the University of Kansas (KU) School of Engineering Advisory Board, Vice President of Education for Aero Achievers Toastmasters, and church activities including Chair of the University United Methodist Church Staff Parish Relations Committee, and Chair of the Wichita State University Campus Ministry Connect Board. Vicki received the 2021 AIAA Sustained Service Award recently.
Vicki’s appearance on “One on One with Victor Hogstrom” (the local public television station in Wichita) can be found here.
Laura Gimpelson, P.E., F. SWE, F. AIChE
Conference Engagement Subgroup, SWE Late Career & Retiree Affinity Group
SWE Bylaws Committee Chair – 2007
Life member; SWE member since: 1975
Central Florida EWeek Lifetime Achievement Award – 2010
Ms. Laura Gimpelson, P.E., is President of LG Environmental Engineering, a woman-owned engineering firm providing sustainable solutions to solve environmental and safety compliance and remediation challenges. She has been part of the sustainability movement since college when it was called waste minimization, energy and resource conservation and pollution prevention. Several of her initial remediation projects established the regulatory and legal precedence for using risk based remediation (RBCA) procedures and in-situ processes in Florida, Tennessee and Texas. Her first project using RBCA regulations is used by the Texas Realtors Association to explain how RBCA standards improve property values and saleability in Designated Brownfield Areas and at former industrial sites.
Laura received her Bachelor of Chemical Engineering from the Georgia Institute of Technology. She is a life member and Fellow of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers and SWE. She is also a voting member of ASTM. She is a registered engineer in Florida, Georgia, Tennessee and Texas and is an approved provider of engineering continuing education programs for the state of Florida.
Currently Gimpelson is secretary of her AIChE and SWE local chapters and a member of both societies’ bylaws committee. She has served as a member of the Winter Park Environmental Advisory Board and the Metropolitan Transit Authority of Houston Texas Small Business Advisory Board. Read more about Gimpelson in the Georgia Tech Living History Program.
Nancy Wheeler Nelson, F. SWE
Leadership team, Late Career & Retiree Affinity Group
Past Region Director
SWE Distinguished Service Award
Life Member, SWE member since: 1977
Nancy Wheeler Nelson enjoys volunteering where she can help make change happen. She is thrilled to be a part of the LCR AG to participate, give back and put a little fun into SWE.
Nancy, a SWE member for over 40 years, founded the SWE Program Grants Committee and was recognized with the Distinguished Service Award. She is a recipient of San Jose State Distinguished Engineering Alumni. Having grown up in New Mexico, Nancy worked as a student at NASA in Mountain View and at the HP Frequency and Time Division receiving two patents.
Nancy retired in 2018 from Trimble as a General Manager. She continues to volunteer for the GetSET outreach program for underrepresented high school girls she helped found in 1992. Nancy holds a BSEE from San Jose State University. Today Nancy enjoys gardening in the Arizona desert adjacent to the Tonto National Forest, cooking, sewing and fabric artwork. Nancy is married and has a son. Her joy during the pandemic has been “playing engineering” with her 5 and 3 year old grand-daughters using Face Time.
Fun Committee, Late Career & Retiree Affinity Group
Past Region Governor, Leadership Coach, Society Nominating Comm
SWE member since: 1998
Carol Raburn, formerly Carol Wilson Pearch Bachman, retired in February 2019 and took a 6 month RV trip to Alaska with her new-ish husband Boyd after getting married in 2018. She is the very proud mother of Dr Elizabeth Pearch and Zachary Pearch and grandmother to Katie, Sammy, Zoey, Austin, Bryce, Shane, and Zack. Carol enjoyed a 34 year engineering career working for Texas Instruments Defense Division/Raytheon on FLIR Guidance Systems, Boeing Commercial Avionics Group as an FAA Liaison engineer, and Peterbilt Motors Division of PACCAR as a Project Engineer. She graduated in 1990 with a BSME from University of Texas at Arlington and worked 6 Co-op semesters at TI. Carol joined SWE in 1998 while working at Boeing and has attended the Annual SWE Conferences for 23 years. She served as Fort Worth SWE Section President for 5 years and held Girl Scout workshops for over 2000 girls to earn various Science badges. Carol also served as a Region C Leadership Coach for 15 years and presented many Modules and organized SWE Leadership Training events for many years. She served as Region Governor for 3 years then served on the Society Nominating Committee for 3 years. She also organized the new Student SWE Sections at Texas Christian University and University of North Texas and served as Professional Counselor at UNT and UTA. Since retirement Carol has joined the Late Career Retiree Affinity Group and assists in fun committee events.
Penny Wirsing, F. SWE
Advisor, SWE Late Career & Retiree Affinity Group
Past Society President (FY2019)
Los Angeles Section Senior Advisory Council
SWE Life member; SWE member since: 1983
Penny Wirsing has been with the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) for over 30 years. Prior to serving as SWE President in 2018-2019, she held multiple roles in SWE leadership at the section, region and Society levels, including Senator, Treasurer, and Director of Emerging Initiatives. She was elected SWE Fellow in 2009.
Penny earned a BS in Civil Engineering from Michigan State University and an MBA from University of Washington. She recently retired after a 30+ year career in the oil and gas industry, including over 25 years with ExxonMobil Corporation, and most recently as the Environmental Manager at Torrance Refining Company, LLC.
Penny is active in her community, having served on boards for several local non-profit organizations, and is currently a Commissioner in her hometown of Redondo Beach. She also enjoys traveling, exercising, reading and brewing beer with her husband, Rick.
Laurie Ramsay, F. SWE
Local Section Engagement Subgroup, Late Career & Retiree Affinity Group
SWE Life Member; SWE member since: 1980
Laurie is a Fellow/Life member of SWE and is on the Local Section Engagement subgroup in the LCR Affinity Group. She also holds leadership positions in the Student Programs (SWENext) Committee, SWE Fellows, and SWE-Detroit Advisory Council. A SWE member since 1980, Laurie has been a leader at all levels, including National VP and co-chair of the 2002 National Conference. Laurie retired from the Ford Motor Company after over 30 years working in Body Interiors and Exteriors as a Design and Plant Quality Engineering supervisor. A 1984 graduate from the University of Michigan in Chemical Engineering, Laurie enjoys returning to U of M to interact with the collegiate SWE and ChE students and perform in the Michigan Alumni Marching Band at homecoming games. Other interests include golf, skiing, running, kayaking, and home improvement projects.
Civil/Environmental/ Nuclear Engineer
Membership Subgroup Lead, Late Career & Retiree Affinity Group
WELocal Legacy Award recipient
Life member; SWE member since: 1993
Michele O’Shaughnessy, a senior life and Ada Pressman member, has been actively involved in the Society since joining as a collegiate member in 1993. She has held roles at the local, Region and Society levels ranging from collegiate Treasurer and Professional Section President to SWE Director for Membership Initiatives. She is currently the Scholarship Chair and Mentor/Advisor for the Central Savannah River Area Section and the Membership Lead for the LCR AG.
Professionally, Michele has been employed by the federal government at various agencies and locations for over 25 years. She is currently employed as a Program Manager for the Spent Nuclear Fuel Receipts at the Department of Energy’s Savannah River Site.
She holds a B.S. in Civil Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and a M.S. in Environmental Systems Engineering from Clemson University. An active member in her community, Michele serves as Secretary for the Leadership Aiken County Program, Secretary for the Aiken Council of Neighborhoods, a member of the United Way Citizen’s Review Panel, a Leukemia and Lymphoma Society (LLS) Mission Committee member and “Gloria’s Light of Hope” LLS Team Captain. She is also a member of the Leadership South Carolina Class of 2021 and a Space Camp Alumni Association Board Director. She resides in Aiken, SC with her two Ragdoll cats.
Laura Gale Meldrum
Conference Engagement Subgroup Co-Lead, Late Career & Retiree Affinity Group
Life Member; SWE member since 1984
Laura received her Masters Degree in Computer Science from Purdue University in 1980 and moved to San Diego to accept a job as an Electrical Engineer at General Dynamics Convair Division & Space System Division. At GD, Laura was a member of the Computer Controlled Launch System team. After leaving GD she took a job as a Computer Graphics Engineer at Automated Systems Inc. where she worked on software to automate the design of printed circuit boards. Her next position was as a Software Engineer at Siltronix, Inc. For Siltronix she worked at North Island Naval Air Station on their helicopter trainer. Next she worked as a Computer Scientist for Radiation Oncology Computer Systems on software to be used in cancer radiation treatment. After this she taught and freelanced until retirement in 2018.
Laura is one of SWE’s San Diego County Section original members. She is a SWE Life Member. She started the Section’s outreach program where she still makes sure that SWE is an important part of the Greater San Diego Science and Engineering Fair.
In her free time Laura swims, skis, SCUBA dives, and travels. To relax, Laura enjoys crafting, MahJongg, cards and other table games.
Conference Advisory Board member, liaison to Late Career and Retired Affinity Group
SWE Life Member; SWE member since: 1980 timeframe
Natalie Lorenz Anderson graduated from MIT in June 1984 with a BS degree in Electrical Engineering having done thesis work on connected speech recognition for assistive technology applications and carrying competitive ballroom dancing with her into adulthood. She earned her MSEE degree from Johns Hopkins University in their Professional Engineering education program while starting what became a 33-year career at Booz Allen in Cybersecurity and IT. Natalie joined SWE in college, became a Lifetime Member in the late 1990’s, participated in her local section’s SWE-BWS Girl Scout STEM badge workshop and other Section activities, and led Booz Allen’s SWE Corporate Partnership Council relationship for over a decade. Natalie currently serves on the SWE Conference Advisory Board representing Fellows and Late Career and Retired SWE members and also serves on a number of academic and non-profit boards focusing on K12 STEM outreach to underserved students and girls, and serves on the advisory boards of several technology start-ups in clean energy, cyber, and healthcare.
Colleen Marie Scholl, PE
FY2021 Ethics Committee Chair, Past Society President (FY2016)
SWE member since: 2000
Colleen Scholl is a Senior Vice President and Professional Services Director with HDR, an architecture, engineering, and environmental services firm headquartered in Omaha, NE. In this role, Colleen leads the technical staff involved in the execution of projects for private sector clients by focusing on the three pillars of technical expertise, quality, and innovation. She is also a technical consultant who has spent over 25 years specializing in water and wastewater treatment and steam/water cycle chemistry within the energy sector. Colleen holds BS and MS degrees in engineering fields and an MBA in management of engineering and technology. She serves as chairperson for the ASME Research & Technology Committee on Water and Steam in Thermal Systems, and she was appointed by the Governor of Wisconsin to the Wisconsin State Board of Architects, Landscape Architects, Professional Engineers, Designers and Professional Land Surveyors.
Passionate about promoting the value of diversity and inclusion, Colleen is the President and a founding member of Lean In Energy, a volunteer-led non-profit organization whose mission is to empower women in the energy sector to achieve their ambitions through mentoring, community, public awareness, and education. She also served on the Board of Directors for the Society of Women Engineers for 4 years including a term as Society President in FY2016. In her personal life, Colleen is an avid scuba diver and currently lives in Whitewater, Wisconsin with her husband Mark and two furry feline children.
Stacey M. DelVecchio, F.SWE
FY21 Nominating Committee Chair
SWE Advocating Women in Engineering Award
SWE Life member; SWE member since: 1994
Stacey DelVecchio is a technical advisor with the Society of Manufacturing’s Additive Manufacturing Community and has been an industry peer review panelist for Oakridge National Labs Manufacturing Facility Development. Prior to launching her own consulting business, focused on the business of additive manufacturing, she was the Additive Manufacturing Product Manager for Caterpillar Inc. where her team leveraged the technology in all spaces, including new product introduction, supply chain and operations. Stacey holds a BS in chemical engineering from the University of Cincinnati. She is a past SWE President and a past Vice-Chair of the World Federation of Engineering Organization’s Women in Engineering Committee, where she represented the Engineering Societies of America. Stacey has been an active SWE member for 26 years and is a Life Member, Fellow, and Advocating Women in Engineering Award recipient. She is currently the Nominating Committee Chair and enjoys scrapbooking, reading, napping, and all things related to SWE.
Seena Drapala, SWE Life, DTM
SWE Sierra Nevada Section President FY21
Region A Distinguished Leader 2018, Past Conference Programming Board Chair 2010
SWE Life Member 2004, senior member since Aug 30, 2000 Storyteller
When asked for the highlight of her career, Seena Drapala said ‘Startup of the combined cycle power plant in Korea’. Standing in the control room, high above the massive complex, the operator sat at the controls. With years of operations experience he said he knows how to start up a plant. The gas turbines were started, and in 20 minutes the bypass damper opened sending hot exhaust to the steam generator. Steam pressure rises. When the conditions were right, she said ‘open this valve before closing that valve’. He doesn’t. It hurts to hear, feel, know, what had taken her months to design, specify, procure, deliver, install, and tune was not treated properly. She suggests firmer this time, ‘why not try it my way?’. Reluctantly he does and the plant starts. Steam flows to the steam turbine, the generator rotates, electrons flow. The main breaker is closed in perfect timing. Our kilowatts join the grid kilowatts. The operator is redeemed. The customer has ‘Won’ (Korean currency) in their eyes. The smiles are BIG! She is proud to be an engineer. Earning her engineering degree was the best thing she ever did for herself, her career, and her family.
Sandy Pettit, Ph.D., P.E., F.SWE
SWE Fellow (2015), Distinguished New Engineer (2001), Ada Pressman Society Member
SWE Life member; SWE member since: 1991
Participant in 26 SWE Annual Conferences (since 1992)
Sandy Pettit, Ph.D., P.E., is the Associate Chair for Undergraduate Studies in the Department of Chemical, Biological, and Materials Engineering at the University of South Florida (USF). Prior to joining academia, she had over 15 years of diverse corporate and industrial experience in manufacturing, bulk chemical plant design, and infrastructure construction with companies including Procter & Gamble, Jacobs Engineering, and TECO Energy. Sandy, a life member and Fellow, has been an active member of SWE since 1991 and has served in numerous leadership roles at the section, region, and Society levels. She was the founding president of the Tampa Bay Area Section in 2001. Over the years, Sandy has seen the evolution of the governance of SWE, having served on the Senate and its predecessors the Council of Representatives (CoR) and the Council of Section Representatives (CSR). In 2019, she chaired the WE Local Host Committee for Tampa and recorded a promotional segment for National Public Radio. During the summer, she takes a break from teaching and enjoys traveling, exploring museums and parks, water activities (fishing, boating, and swimming), and jigsaw puzzles.