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Five Dallas SWE members made their way to Tulsa, OK January 26-28 to experience the first WE Local conference of FY18! Registration was a breeze through the SWE membership portal, and the refreshed WE Event App was the best way to plan our experience in Tulsa. About a 4 hour drive away from the Dallas area, the trip was just as accessible as WE17 was in Austin, but offered a more intimate and more affordable experience.

The formal program began with breakfast on Friday and opening keynote speaker Kate Van Dellen, a Dallas SWE member and one of our Region C Senators! She gave a wonderful presentation that inspired us to call out discrimination when we experience it and to mentor the next generation of engineers to solve problems and speak out to support equality in our workplaces.

FY18 SWE President Jonna Gerkin delivered the State of SWE address at lunch and, along with other Society leaders in attendance, presided over the SWE Town Hall session. SWE members asked many questions concerning governance structure updates, SWE website updates in progress and the new Advance Learning Center 2.0, changes to future conference programming and career fair logistics, and the need for SWE Committee accountability as they become our only pathway to Society leadership opportunities. It was a great opportunity to voice our concerns and get real-time responses: a sincere thank-you to all the Society leadership representatives who attended!

Dallas SWE Members at WE Local Tulsa 2018!

Dallas SWE members Kate Van Dellen and Shelley Stracener presented professional development sessions during the conference on the topics of Finding Your Catch Phrase and Engineering Your Financial Future, respectively. WE Local conferences are an excellent way to practice your public speaking skills while sharing your passion for teaching and mentoring others: we encourage you to use them as a stepping stone to presenting at annual Society conferences! Rebecca Tom attended to recruit for her company, Texas Instruments, at the career fair, and Nancy Jennings attended the career fair as a job seeker and new transplant to Dallas. Tripat Baweja drove eight of her Colin College students to the conference for the weekend: what a trooper!

WE Local differed from our past Region conferences in that it included a Design Lab K-12 Outreach program and Parent & Educator program for local families. This is a great benefit of having SWE headquarters help in planning and executing WE Local conferences going forward and a wonderful opportunity to introduce SWE to each WE Local host city! We definitely took some notes on things we can use to improve our Design Your World Outreach series.

The closing event of the conference Saturday evening was an Award banquet with guest speaker Dima Ghawi,. Her transformative life story escaping an abusive culture and marriage to emancipating herself and her family members was so inspiring to those of us who struggle with shattering expectations and becoming courageous leaders.

As with all SWE conferences, attendees came home energized and motivated to make changes in our lives, our workplaces, and our communities! If you want to experience a WE Local conference this year, there are four more in the United States and two WE Locals overseas in 2018! Visit weloacl.swe.org for more details. The WE Local schedule for 2019 has also been announced, so mark your calendars and join your SWEsters where and when you are able!

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