Black History Month: Recognizing SWE Volunteer Leaders in the Senate

SWE’s mission reads as follows:

Empowering women to reach their full potential in careers as engineers and leaders; expanding the image of the engineering and technology profession as a positive force in improving the quality of life, as well as demonstrating the value of diversity and inclusion.

We highlight here some of our exemplary leaders who helped advance our mission, with gratitude and admiration for all they do!

Linda MS Thomas, F. SWE, Senator

linda thomas

Linda Thomas (She/Her/Hers), a SWE senator, and SWE Member at Large, is described in six words: mother, wife, engineer, musician, photographer, STEMinist. Linda retired from the Boeing Company in January 2020, as a Technical Fellow and chemical regulatory risk assessment subject matter expert. Since retiring, Linda has continued her STEM advocacy through online volunteer work with SWE, NSBE, International System Safety Society, and local community activities.

Linda, a Washington, DC native, received a BS in chemical engineering from Howard University and an MS in systems engineering and architecture from the University of Southern California. Linda’s hobbies include playing the clarinet, photography and gardening. She lives in the Seattle, Washington area with her husband Lee, and her pet bird. She’s also the mother of the 2020 college graduate!

Linda’s career accomplishments were recognized by SWE as a 2016 Women Engineer You Should Know Fellow and Distinguished Service Award. She was also featured in Boeing’s 2014 Environmental Report and their 2017 International Women’s Day campaign, #WomenMakeUsBetter.

Linda is currently serving her second term as a Senator. His personal goal for the Senate is to connect with the SWE membership, to ensure their voices are heard by the Society.

Valerie Thomas, Senator

valerie thomasFor the last 6 years, Valerie Thomas (She/Her/Hers) has served as a leader in SWE and the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). At NSBE, she is currently the Director of Women in Science and Engineering – Special Interest Group (WISE SIG). At SWE, Valerie serves as co-chair and chair of the membership committee; advisor to the University of Georgia chapter and liaison for the NSBE-SWE joint membership initiative. He is also a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated.

Valerie received her Bachelor of Science in Industrial Engineering and Master of Business Administration (MBA) degrees from Southern Polytechnic State University in Marietta, Georgia. Professionally, he is the Marketing Communications manager in the Siemens Digital Industries (DI) division. Valerie currently resides in Alpharetta, Georgia.

Valerie is passionate about women’s empowerment and says, “My drive is to make sure that women in STEM have a platform to be heard.” As SWE Senator, Valerie strives to make a difference, and being an effective leader helps the organization sustain the present and prepare for the future. Valerie believes that as SWE continues to grow, our purpose, vision and goals must align with what is happening in the world around us.

As a woman of color, Valerie wanted to see more faces like her serving in SWE’s leadership. In addition, he hopes to see more levels of membership involved in leadership roles. Whether you are in college, international, experienced or early in your career; the more diverse the board, the more likely it is that every demographic within SWE is heard.

Louvere Walker-Hannon, Senator

Louvere Walker HannonLouvere Walker-Hannon (She/Her/Hers) is a MathWorks Application Engineering Senior Team Leader, providing technical guidance and strategic direction to the Application Engineers team. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Biomedical Engineering and a master’s degree in Geographic Information Technology with a specialization in Remote Sensing. Louvere has presented and continues to present at several STEM-related conferences on a variety of topics and is an active STEM advocate. She also recently received the 2022 SWE WE WE Engaged Advocate Award which honors individuals who have contributed to the advancement or acceptance of women in engineering. Louvere was the Co-Lead of the SWE African-American Affinity Group and the Professional Development Lead of the SWE Latinos Affinity Group for FY22. He is currently serving as a first-year SWE Senator. In her free time, Louvere enjoys volunteering, advocating for STEM Youth outreach for underrepresented groups in STEM, and helping as many people as she can through her work and volunteerism.

Cherie Cain, President of the Senate

Black History Month: Recognizing SWE Volunteer Leaders in the Senate -

Cherie Cain (She/Her/Hers) has been a member of SWE since 2006 when she joined the Boston section. A member of the Hartford section since 2013, he has held a variety of roles, from co-chairing the first “Wow/That’s Engineering” event in Boston to Senator and now Secretary of the Senate. Cherie is a staff systems engineer for Collins Aerospace Systems. He has over 20 years of experience in manufacturing, design, and systems engineering. Cherie earned her Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering and Master of Science in Mechanical Engineering from Tulane University in New Orleans, LA, her hometown. He also obtained an MS in Systems Engineering from the Worcester Polytechnic Institute. He is married with one child.

Jola Ilori, Senator

Black History Month: Recognizing SWE Volunteer Leaders in the Senate -

Jola IIori (He/She/His) is a member of SWE Big Member. In his words: I graduated in 2017 with a dual bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering and Computer Science from the University of Ottawa, Canada. As a student, I served as co-VP for Women in Science and Engineering, where I worked closely with our local Women in STEM Careers group to host an informal speaker’s night for students. I am responsible for communicating and engaging with students to ensure that the event encourages and builds a sense of community for them, thereby making them feel more welcome and less lonely in the STEM program. I also volunteer for the World University of Canada Community Student Refugee Program. I am responsible for ensuring that the female sponsored student adapts and can learn like a local student at the university. I work with sponsored students to organize social events with the program community and have them attend other local university social events to help with cultural integration. As an early career professional, I am currently volunteering at my local elementary/high school for IAGTED (Introduce a Girl to Science and Engineering Day).

As a womana man of color, I am passionate about empowering women and increasing the representation of women of color and members of the LGBTQ+ community, particularly in the STEM space. I will continue to dedicate time and effort to guide and build a sense of community for women in STEM so they don’t feel alone and grow together. Minority representation in STEM careers, particularly Black & Hispanic representation, has recently been on a quiet decline. My goal at the SWE Senate is to explore Youth programming opportunities that foster interest in STEM careers to help mitigate this decline. I’d also like to see more remote programs and events that include all SWE members, especially SWE members in general, and encourage networking/connection across SWE member sections. I am interested in ensuring that SWE is an inclusive organization with diverse leaders who represent the demographics of SWE members. I am also interested in supporting and empowering SWE members to build successful careers.

Monica Brown Challenger, Senator

Black History Month: Recognizing SWE Volunteer Leaders in the Senate -

Monica Challenger (she/her) is a member of the SWE Iowa Central East section. He joined the Boeing Company in 2019 after taking a 15 year break from his engineering career. During a break in his career, Challenger rooted himself in his community as a volunteer, executive director, and member of several boards. He maintains strong and trusted relationships with community members, leaders, and nonprofits, with a focus on building literacy and STEM-based educational and career opportunities. Challenger is an Electrical Design and Analysis Engineer on Boeing’s F-15 Electrical Design Team. Challenger holds a Bachelor of Science in Electrical Engineering from the University of Massachusetts-Lowell and a Certificate in Technical Leadership from the James McKelvey School of Engineering at Washington University St. Louis. Challenger is Vice President of the Cedar Rapids Public Library Board of Trustees; board member of the Cedar Rapids Public Library Foundation; a member of the executive board of the Department of Correctional Services of the Sixth Judicial District of Iowa, and a board member of The Revival Theater Company. Challenger and her husband have four children. Their two eldest children are college graduates from Saint Louis University and Harvard College. Their two youngest children are in their first year at Morehouse College and Spelman College this fall.

African American affinity group

  • Stephanie added

    Stephanie Foege

    Stephanie Foege has been a member of SWE since 2002. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Computer Engineering from the University of Illinois at Champaign Urbana and currently works as operations manager for Healthy Horizons. Stephanie lives with her husband and (6) wonderful daughter in SE Wisconsin. The inspiration for this post came from his eldest son, who won the Martin Luther King Jr. essay contest. his school district in 2023.

  • dear george

    Honna George

    Honna George is Deputy Executive Director at SWE. In addition to supporting strategic planning, staff development, public policy, marketing, event registration and DEI&B work at SWE, Honna worked as a primary data architect and information systems designer at the organization. He specializes in information technology and data management and oversees organizational data, data governance, and database applications and integration.

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