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Affinity Group Spotlight: Women in Government Affinity Group

Each month during 2021, we will be highlighting a different SWE affinity group (AG). The blog posts will have two sections: (1) a ‘group overview’ that highlights the overall purpose and goals of the AG, and (2) a ‘meet the members’ section that lists all AG members who wish to be featured.
Affinity Group Spotlight: Women in Government Affinity Group -

Each month during 2021, we will be highlighting a different SWE affinity group (AG). The blog posts will have two sections: (1) a ‘group overview’ that highlights the overall purpose and goals of the AG, and (2) a ‘meet the members’ section that lists all AG members who wish to be featured.

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 August, we’re excited to highlight the Women in Government Affinity Group!

Get to know the goals of the Women in Government Affinity Group!

What are the overall goals of the Women in Government Affinity Group?

The overall goals of the Women in Government Affinity Group is to provide resources and networking opportunities for SWE members who work in a government role. We aim to recognize the contributions and achievements of women engineers in government positions and be a resource for those engineers considering work in the government.

Does the Women in Government Affinity Group have regular meetings? If so, when and how often? What takes place during a typical meeting?

The Women in Government Affinity Group is aiming to have regular meetings (second Sunday of the month is the current time). We have some time to get to know each other and time to discuss what our group can do to support our members (planning future webinar topics, planning conference sessions, etc.).

Please join us! 

How is the Women in Government Affinity Group working to reach and include new members?

Currently we operate primarily on our Facebook page, but we also will be using SWE’s Women in Government Listserv. 

Why is the Women in Government Affinity Group important to its members?

Government roles can be very different from a role in the private sector. In many cases, the benefit structure is completely different and there tends to be an even leakier pipeline for women, and women of color, to advance their careers, especially in a technical track. The Women in Government Affinity Group is important because it provides a space for women engineers to network, learn from each other, and also promote government work for those who are interested! 

Where would you direct those interested in joining or learning more about the Women in Government Affinity Group?

Join our Facebook page! We recognize that not all our members will be on Facebook, so if you are interested in getting involved or being on emails/meeting invitations, email our FY22 Chair at

Meet the Women in Government Affinity Group members:


Affinity Group Spotlight: Women in Government Affinity Group -Lauraleigh Lakocy
Chemical Engineer
AG Lead
SWE member since: 2011

Lauraleigh is an Air Quality Scientist with the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. She operates a mobile air quality monitoring lab with a colleague and analyzes the data that is collected. She recently transitioned from her role of 3 years as an air quality permit engineer within the Air Pollution Control Division. She studied Chemical Engineering and Atmospheric Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she first got involved with SWE. She loves being involved with this affinity group because during school, she did not know that opportunities existed in government for people without PhDs and hopes to bring awareness to the diversity of roles that exist within the government to engineers. She loves exploring the outdoors with her family and working on projects around the house. 

Affinity Group Spotlight: Women in Government Affinity Group -Deena Sara Disraelly, PhD
Systems Engineer, Nuclear Propulsion Engineer
SWE Conference Advisory Board Women in Government (WiG) Representative
SWE member since: 2018

 Deena Disraelly is the Director of the Division of Planning in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and an adjunct Professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at The George Washington University. Deena is a former Naval Surface Warfare Officer and Naval Nuclear Engineering Officer, U.S. Navy. She has a Bachelors of Science in Aeronautics and Astronautics, a Masters of Science in Technology and Public Policy, and a Masters of Engineering in Logistics Management from MIT, Cambridge, MA, and a PhD in Engineering Management and Systems Engineering with a focus in Crisis, Disaster, and Risk Management from The George Washington University, Washington DC. Deena became involved in SWE at the recommendation of a former colleague and was honored to be a 2018 SWE Prism Award recipient. Deena’s passion for service extends to her outside activities as well, serving as a volunteer program leader and a curriculum developer for a local college prep program for first generation and first-in-their-family college applicants, a local public health responder, and a board member for a memorial foundation that angel invests in charities that support female empowerment at all ages.

Affinity Group Spotlight: Women in Government Affinity Group -Sonja Bazemore Favors, PE
Chemical Engineer
SWE member since: 1994

Sonja Favors, P. E., is the Chief of the Industrial Hazardous Waste Branch with the Alabama Department of Environmental Management (ADEM). She has 25 years of experience in the environmental management of hazardous waste, superfund, emergency response, Brownfield Redevelopment projects and Environmental Justice concerns.   She has worked with several environmental organizations, such as Association of State and Territorial Solid Waste Management Officials (ASTSWMO) to develop and present training courses on a variety of environmental topics.  Ms. Favors also serves as the Environmental Special Interest Group Director for the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) and executive director for her nonprofit organization, Pumps, Pearls, and Purpose focused on the empowerment of women in today’s world.  Ms. Favors has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering and Chemistry from Tuskegee University, an M.B.A. from Auburn University Montgomery, and her Professional Engineering Licensure from the State of Alabama. She is the mother of 5 wonderful children and 5 beautiful granddaughters, a member of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc, and NSBE.  In her spare time, she enjoys reading, podcast listening, fishing and all things sports related. My motto is simply, “Create a Living Legacy Today, our Future is depending on it!”

Affinity Group Spotlight: Women in Government Affinity Group -Keena Spencer-Dobson, P.E.
Civil Engineer
WiG AG member, Wisconsin professional section member, WE Local Advisory Board member
SWE member since: 2005

Keena Spencer-Dobson, P.E. is a project leader and engineer with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT). She designs and oversees the construction of highway and bridge projects. Her greatest accomplishment at WisDOT has been oversight of the Wisconsin side of construction of the $630 million St. Croix River Crossing Project consisting of new roadways, unique bridge structure and multi-use trail utilizing the 90-year-old Stillwater Lift Bridge. Keena earned her bachelor’s degree in civil engineering and a master’s degree in project management, both from the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. She joined SWE during college and became a life member in 2018. Within SWE, she enjoys attending conferences and networking with other engineers, especially those with similar experiences in the Women in Government Affinity Group. Outside of SWE, Keena enjoys geocaching, exploring Wisconsin’s state park system, traveling, and various forms of crafting, including crocheting, sewing, and papercrafts.

Affinity Group Spotlight: Women in Government Affinity Group -Geeta Belas
Civil Engineer with a Master’s degree in Construction Engineering Management
SWE member since: I think since 2014

Geeta’s BSc in Civil Engineering and MEng in Construction Engineering Management from the U of A have prepared her well to carry out international field support with the United Nations. Geeta joined the United Nations in 2008 and has worked in Darfur, Sudan, Kuwait, many parts of Iraq, and Colombia. In these Peace Keeping Operations and Special Political Missions, she worked on projects to construct and enhance the security, facilities & infrastructure of the UN offices and accommodations. Her job is to design, construct, or procure facilities & infrastructure for UN troops, police, and staff in a post-conflict, austere environments. Her first posting was in Darfur, where she supervised international staff and local workers to build compounds including prefabricated modular buildings, offices and living quarters, on a greenfield site. After her next posting in Iraq, she’s been living in New York City working for the Department of Operational Support at the United Nations Headquarters. Now, she is the Project Manager working on improving living and working conditions for women in UN field missions. The project is named after the Elsie Initiative, a Canadian Government effort, which sponsors it.

Affinity Group Spotlight: Women in Government Affinity Group -Mary E. Kinsella, PhD, F.SWE
Industrial and Systems Engineer in Materials and Manufacturing Technology
LCC Coach, Former Co-Lead for WIG AG
SWE member since: 1988

Mary E. Kinsella, PhD, F.SWE, is a career strategist and podcaster at, helping women engineers confidently command greater influence and impact. She has more than 30 years’ experience with the Air Force Research Laboratory as a project engineer in materials and manufacturing technology. She is a fellow and life member of SWE and has held leadership positions at the local, regional, and national levels. Currently she is a coach on the Leadership Coaching Committee and a member of the Women in Government, Entrepreneurs, and Late Career and Retiree Affinity Groups. Mary supports the arts, especially classical music and theater, and plays the violin and piano. She practices alternative wellness approaches, and enjoys yoga, making, and puzzling.

Affinity Group Spotlight: Women in Government Affinity Group -Dimple H. Patel
Electrical Engineer
Membership chair of the Eastern Washington Section
SWE member since: 2006

Dimple Patel is an Instrumentation and Control Safety System Oversight Engineer at the Department of Energy’s Hanford Site, where she performs oversight to evaluate contractor implementation of nuclear safety and engineering requirements. Additionally, Dimple is the Technical Qualification Program manager for federal employees at Hanford. In this role, she helps the organization ensure employees have the technical competencies needed to support the mission of the Department of Energy. Dimple is also manager of the Hanford Readiness Program, which verifies nuclear facilities are ready to start up in a manner that protects workers, the public and the environment from adverse consequences.

Dimple has been a member of the Eastern Washington section since 2007, during which time she has held section officer positions and served on the regional conference committee. She holds a dual B.S. degree in Electrical Engineering and Science, Technology & Society, from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, New York. Outside of work and SWE, Dimple enjoys cooking, shopping at farmers’ markets, practicing yoga, and spending time with her husband, two daughters, and two dogs.


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