RMS 2020 Summit Awards

The Society of Women Engineers awards members for their outstanding achievements and contributions to the society with our Summit Awards.

This year’s winners include:

Outreach – Sara Ellis
*Presented to a SWE-RMS member who has made an outstanding contribution to Outreach programs and activities within the section for the current fiscal year.

Sara Ellis has been the Chair or Co-Chair for the SWE RMS Great Women in Engineering and Science Essay Contest for the last several years, keeping the tradition of this contest going – it is now in its 33rd year! Sara has provided consistent leadership to the contest, ensuring that 6th grade students throughout Colorado and Wyoming have the opportunity to participate, and that the finalists are recognized in a big way at the annual awards ceremony. In 2020 in particular, Sara had to adapt to the situation caused by the COVID-19 crisis, including figuring out how to ship the prize materials to the individual and school winners. She also recognized the 3 individual winners (along with their families and teachers) at our virtual awards ceremony in April. Sara’s ability to adjust specific plans ensured that the Essay Contest was a success once again this year!

Professional Development – Tricia Lawler
*Presented to a SWE-RMS member who has made an outstanding contribution to Professional Development programs within the section for the current fiscal year.

This SWE Rocky Mountain Summit Award nomination is for Tricia Lawler, for her outstanding contribution to Professional Development. Tricia represented both SWE-RMS and Merrick & Company to strengthen a long-standing corporate partnership and support two unique professional development events for SWE members. For both the Conflict Management event with career coach Amy McMaster and the Art of Delegation event with business unit leader Tammy Johnson, Tricia solicited and negotiated with the speakers, set up the venue, oversaw catering, and kicked off the events with a warm welcome and speaker introductions. Tricia maintained a level of constant contact to have the speakers deliver high quality talks to our SWE members, and she navigated a last minute reschedule.

Tricia’s efforts not only provided professional development and networking opportunities to SWE member and Merrick employees, they allowed for an inclusive environment with both men and women attendees, promoted mutual support, and were focused on being convenient for SWE members to attend. Tricia continues her efforts in connecting SWE members with unique learning experiences and networking opportunities by leading the upcoming tech talk with career coach Cheryl Benedict on the very timely topic, Managing Change & Transition during COVID-19.

Fund Development – Amy Tank
*Presented to a SWE-RMS member who has made an outstanding contribution to the finances of SWE-RMS during the fiscal year through creative fundraising. This is not intended for recognizing the person who designated the most money, but the person who put the most creativity and effort into raising funds for our section.

Amy Tank is Chair of the Girls Exploring STEM (GESTEM) fundraising committee. Amy’s dedication to the GESTEM event has been made apparent by her leadership coordinating fund development for the 2020 GESTEM event. Amy took over the reins of fundraising for GESTEM which is no easy task. She organized a dedicated team to strategically reach out to past sponsors to secure funding to reach the budgeted target. This was especially noteworthy since she was volunteering her time while expanding her family. She also showed unyielding support of the sponsors and volunteers needs during the COVID-19 crisis, which cancelled our event. Her empathy has led to deeper relationships with donors leading to secured funding for future events.

Communicator – Madalene Fetsch
*Presented to a SWE-RMS member who has made an outstanding contribution to communication activities within SWE-RMS during the current fiscal year. 

Madalene Fetsch as Chair of the SWE President Celebration Committee, faced a difficult situation when coronavirus threatened not only the date of the SWE FY21 President Celebration, but also the contract terms for the venue. In order to ensure the financial health of the section and flexibility for the event, she researched the contract terms and came up with two major changes the contract needed to provide flexibility for the event. Given that the venue was not proactive in updating the terms, she reached out to the general manager and negotiated new terms for the contract. This included not only tweaking details on the resulting drafts of the new contract, but also vetting these changes with the SWE National Office, who had specific tips about the wording around coronavirus that will protect the section from additional financial responsibility should the situation change dramatically as the event grows closer. After multiple drafts, she completed the new contract and stayed on good terms with the venue such that the SWE FY21 President’s Celebration has multiple options for celebrating in a safe manner at some point in the future. She brought the rest of the committee on board with the changes, and prepared them for expected next steps with navigating planning this celebration in an uncertain time.

Newcomer – Emily Durie
*Presented to a SWE-RMS member who is new to the section and has made an outstanding contribution to the section during the current fiscal year. Note: This can include a person who has taken on a committee chair other similar responsibility within 2 years of joining the section.

Emily cultivated from an idea at the SWE-RMS strategic planning meeting, Emily established a new membership benefit – a book club As a new member of our section Emily has done a fantastic job of jumping in SWE and getting involved by serving as the lead for our SWE RMS Book Club. She has shown her leadership skills by effectively organizing meetings, being well prepared for discussions including having a clear agenda, and clearly communicating expectations. She created a format that was not overwhelming, allowing members to read the books in portions, and her choice in virtual format made the discussions open to all members in our geographically dispersed section. In addition Emily has been incredibly inclusive, ensuring that even through video chat, everyone had a chance for introductions especially as we had new members at each meeting. Given the current circumstances this has been a great way to connect and due to Emily’s leadership this has been a highlight of my year in participation.

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