The Society of Women Engineers (SWE), founded in 1950, is a not-for-profit educational and service organization. SWE is the driving force that establishes engineering as a highly desirable career aspiration for women. SWE empowers women to succeed and advance in those aspirations and be recognized for their life-changing contributions and achievements as engineers and leaders. The Wisconsin professional section of the Society of Women Engineers, a.k.a. SWE-WI, became a chartered SWE section on 11/3/1973.
The SWE-WI Professional Section currently partners with the SWE Collegiate Sections at 8 universities in the Wisconsin/Michigan area:
- University of Wisconsin – Madison
- University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee
- University of Wisconsin – Stout
- University of Wisconsin – Stevens Point
- Marquette University
- Milwaukee School of Engineering
- Michigan Technical University
- Lake Superior State University
FY24 (July 2023 – June 2024) Executive Council:
- President: Kyela Specht
- VP 1 – Professional Development: Raquel Reif
- VP 2 – Collegiates: Maureen Duthie
- VP 3 – Outreach: Heidi Balestrieri
- Secretary 1 – Recording: Michele (Gagas) Dodez
- Secretary 2 – Society Liaison: Gina Janke
- Treasurer: Katie Ebelt
President: Kyela Specht
I am thrilled to be elected for the President Position for FY24! I have been a SWE Member since 2012, where I started as a collegiate member, and have since had a variety of involvement throughout the years. In 2018, I became more involved in the Wisconsin Professional Section when I volunteered on the WE Local Milwaukee Planning Committee, specifically for the SWENext event. Most recently, I have been the Wisconsin Section’s Google Coordinator for FY20 and have been Secretary 1-Recording the past three years in FY21, FY22, and FY23.
Over the past 3 years as Secretary 1- Recording, I have had the opportunity to learn more about the Wisconsin Section, our members, and short term and long term goals. I’ve enjoyed being the communication link between the sections Executive Committee and the Members over the last several years. I’m ready to take on the President role, we have a strong section, with members all over the state and the UP, that I’d love to further our membership, events, and support across the section!
VP 1 – Professional Development:
Engineer and mother of four, living in Wisconsin since 2010. I grew up in Spain, in a family that encouraged my technical background, leadership, diversity and women empowerment. BS and MS Industrial Engineering, MBA, Lean Six Sigma Master Black Belt.
I have been at Kohler for five years holding increased responsibility roles: Operations Engineering supervisor, Program Manager, Portfolio Manager and Business Development Manager-Ops. Previous to Kohler I was an International Project Manager at Siemens-Gamesa working in seven countries (six years), Sr Quality engineer and Quality Manger at Curt Joa Automation (six years). I am passionate about future forward change and inspiring and empowering others to develop and progress in their engineering careers.
I believe that supporting the Women Engineering community in key aspects as professional development, life-work balance, mentorship, sponsorship, and introducing and promoting engineering careers to SWE Nexters, we are building a better prepared community that is ready to grow and increase its presence and leadership in academia and the business world.
I bring passion about being part of the change needed to help women engineers and future generations succeed. Our outreach programs are key to give every girl the opportunity to learn and choose the engineer path and to help them believe on themselves.
Educating the school communities and engineering communities about gender unconscious biases and providing girls starting at elementary school to women engineers with the tools they need to take their career to the level they identify as their ultimate career goal are critical to equity and inclusion.
We are all role models, and by aspiring to our goals we will inspire others on the way, building a path for future women generations.
VP 2 – Collegiates: Maureen Duthie
Maureen Duthie (She/Her) has been a member of SWE since 2014 starting as a collegiate at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. After graduating in 2019 with a B.S. in Materials Science and Engineering, she currently works as a Product Engineer II at Clarios in Milwaukee and is an MBA student at the University of Wisconsin – Milwaukee. At Clarios she is also the Program Lead for their STEM Outreach volunteering group, EXTND. This is her first year serving on the SWE-WI Executive Board and looks forward to collaborating with the collegiate sections to provide support and meaningful opportunities to connect with the professional section. In her free time you can find her rock climbing, sailing, hiking, playing soccer, volleyball, skiing, or spending time with her friends, partner, and two cats.
VP 3 – Outreach: Heidi Balestrieri
Heidi Balestrieri has been involved in SWE Outreach programs for many years as both a presenter and a student which has fueled her passion to introduce STEM careers to today’s students. Besides being the VP 3 Outreach/Outreach Coordinator for SWE-WI for the past five fiscal years, she has held a variety of SWE section roles in SWE-WI and Heart of Iowa SWE. In her professional role, Heidi is Director of Engineering at Sentry Equipment in Oconomowoc. When not planning or presenting outreach events, Heidi attends her daughters’ school events and uses them as research assistants for developing new outreach activities. She would like to continue in the role as VP 3 Outreach to continue to grow SWE-WI Outreach across the state.
Secretary 1 – Recording: Michele (Gagas) Dodez
Secretary 2 – Society Liaison: Gina Janke
I am interested in keeping our section connected with SWE as an organization through communication of governance meetings and changes in the organization at large.
A current Life member, I have been engaged with SWE throughout most of my collegiate and professional years, working on local, regional and national SWE activities. Through my experience, I hope I can help provide additional value to the SWE-WI members as Secretary 2-Society Liaison.
Treasurer: Katie Ebelt
Katie Ebelt studied paper science engineering and chemical engineering from UW-Stevens Point. Her involvement in SWE started at UW-SP when she helped start the collegiate section. While at UW-SP, she was the Vice President and President. Katie has be a member of SWE-WI since 2017 and being the treasurer is her first position. In FY22, Katie is looking forward to making more connections throughout the Section and partaking in outreach events. Kate works for Kimberly Clark as a process engineer. In her free time, she is an avid rocks and mineral collector and loved visiting Germany on vacation!
Membership Chair: Susan Thomas Schlett
Susan has been involved with SWE for over 40 years. She has held various roles within the organization including president of SWE-WI, membership chair for the Society and has earned SWE’s Distinguished Service Award. Susan was a founding section member and first SWE section president for her alma mater Trinity College in Hartford, CT where she currently serves as SWE Counselor, in addition to SWE-WI membership chair.