Member Spotlight & Awards

SWE-HA Local Awards

The Society of Women Engineers strives to advance and honor the contributions of women at all stages of their careers as well as recognize the successes of SWE members and individuals who enhance the engineering profession through contributions to industry, education and the community.

SWE-HA 2024 Awards Program will open Spring 2024. We are looking to recognize our members in the following four categories:

Career Achievement Award – The Career Achievement Award recognizes a SWE HA member who has made significant contributions to the field of engineering thus helping pave the way for future female engineers. This award is intended to recognize members who have demonstrated leadership in their organization to support the success of future female engineers.

Community Outreach Award – The Community Outreach Award recognizes a SWE HA member who has made significant contributions to the community where they live and work. This award is intended to recognize members whose involvement has been focused serving the community through volunteerism.

Exemplary Leader Award – The Exemplary Leader Award recognizes a SWE HA member who has demonstrated leadership abilities in their work and community. This award is intended to recognize a member who has exhibited the ability to show her leadership abilities in multiple facets of her life thus making a difference in other’s lives.

SWE HA New Member Award – The SWE HA New Member Award recognizes a SWE HA Member who is new to SWE HA and made contributions to the success of SWE HA. This award is intended to recognize a new member who has involvement in advancing the mission of SWE HA.

Nominations will be accepted through Friday, March 3rd, 2023 and winners will be announced at the SWE HA Volunteer Appreciation & Awards Event.

For questions, please contact

Congratulations to our Past Local Award Recipients!

FY23 Career Achievement Award – Diondria Holliman

FY23 New Member Award – Erin Smith

FY23 Exemplary Leader Award – Natasha Goode

FY22 Community Outreach Award – Kim Le

“Kim Le is an outstanding example of giving back to her community. Kim was a recipient of the Terry Foundation Scholarship when she attended the University of Houston and now is on the Advisory Board of the Terry Foundation, volunteering with the committee that selects the leaders of tomorrow through their freshman scholarship program. Kim works with the community on her own accord, volunteering for various resume review sessions, panel discussions and career fairs for colleges in the Houston area, as well as helping many primary or high school panel events through SWE. Recently at The Chemours Company, she stepped up to lead the Community Outreach Committee and help the greater La Porte area. So far this year, Kim has helped organize a spring cleaning day at Armand Bayou Nature Center, volunteered to conduct an Electrolysis Experiment at a local HS, and participated in choosing the second Chemours Future of Chemistry Scholarship recipient. She is regarded at work as a role model for Outreach and I encourage SWE to recognize Kim’s efforts more widely so everyone can see what an amazing job she’s doing to give back!”

FY22 Exemplary Leader Award – Colleen Turley

Colleen Turley is an exemplary leader both within her company and her community. As a Principal Applications Engineer for Solar Turbines, Colleen supports Oil & Gas customers by providing technical and commercial leadership in executing new project opportunities. Colleen has been an active board member for the Solar Turbines SWE employee resource group for the last couple of years; collaborating with leaders around the business to participate in an “Executive Speaker Series” which focuses on DE&I in the workplace. Through her leadership in running these events, Colleen has provided inspiration to Solar Turbines’ leaders to pursue mentorship opportunities for female employees, globally. Colleen also provides mentorship herself to female engineers both in early career stages and internship.

“When Colleen isn’t booking new technical sales opportunities or leading workplace DE&I events, she is giving back to her Houston community through the form of fitness and volunteering. Colleen teaches a spin-strength-yoga class twice a week. When asked why she started teaching these classes, she responded, “I wanted to provide a safe space that promotes healthy lifestyles for all individuals within the Houston community, regardless of age, status, gender, or orientation.” Colleen has also volunteered for the Engineering Arts Alliance, SWE Girl Scouts – Houston, and Big Brothers Big Sisters of Houston.

Colleen has proven time and time again that she is an exemplary leader who exhibited the abilities to make a difference in other’s lives through STEM, fitness, mentorship, DE&I, and providing leadership in all facets of her life.”

Member Spotlight

SWE-HA highlights and celebrates the achievements of our outstanding members on a regular basis

Were you inspired by a fellow SWE-HA member’s recent promotion, award, publication, patent, participation on an industry panel, speaking role at a conference, feature in an article/news segment, or dedication to a volunteer cause?

Please take a moment to empower a fellow SWE-HA member (or yourself!) by recognizing their exciting accomplishment using the form below:

Meet some of our amazing members in the SWE Houston section!

Sarah Oldenburg serves as the Society of Women Engineers Houston Area Section (SWE-HA) FY2024 membership chair. As one of the most involved and time-consuming roles within SWE-HA, Sarah has already knocked it out of the park within the first 2 months of the fiscal year. The membership chair is responsible for organizing the first event of the fiscal year, the Kick-Off Membership Event. Within 3 weeks of holding the membership chair position, Sarah led a team to host one of the Sections most successful membership events to date. With over 90 registrations and 70+ attendees, the FY24 Kick-Off Membership event was one for the books. Having a strong kick-off event is key to recruiting and maintaining membership for the section throughout the fiscal year. This year’s event also led to some new members volunteering to join one or more of SWE-HA’s many committees that organize and manage the amazing events the Section hosts throughout the year.

SWE Annual Award Program

The Society of Women Engineers strives to advance and honor the contributions of women at all stages of their careers and recognize the successes of SWE members and individuals who enhance the engineering profession through contributions to the industry, education, and the community.

SWE Individual Awards seek to recognize individuals and groups who support the core values of the Society: Integrity, Inclusive Environment, Mutual Support, Professional Excellence, and Trust. Learn More at:

SWE HA is very excited to be the recipient of this year’s 2022 Mission Award – Gold. The SWE Mission Awards recognize SWE groups that embody SWE core values and demonstrate continuous improvement and growth as they work to achieve the Society’s strategic goals. We thank everyone for your support as we continue to elevate our section.

SWE 2022 Annual Award Recipients

We are excited to announce the following SWE-HA Members who are recipients of SWE’s Annual Awards Program. Join us in celebrating the achievements and community contributions of these members. They will be recognized at WE22. See a full list of recipients here.

  • Jill Almaguer – Fellow Grade
  • Irene Change – Fellow Grade
  • Cynthia Oliver Coleman – Fellow Grade
  • Irene Hodor, Exxon Mobil – Spark Award
  • Catherine Dorsi, Dow – Patent Recognition Award
  • Ruth Lim, HP Inc – Patent Recognition Award
  • Yasmin Srivastava, Dow – Patent Recognition Award

​Shout out to Susan Howes, Sarah Adaryan, & Kathryn Schoer, our FY22 Award Committee, who supported in submitting these nominations.

Are you thinking of applying for a SWE HQ Individual Award this upcoming year? We support our members in the application process. Applications typically open in January, but we recommend starting them sooner. Please reach out to Emily at if interested.

SWE 2021 Annual Award Recipients

Please join us in congratulating SWE annual award recipients, who are a part of SWE-HA. We are so proud of your achievements and applaud your contributions to our community.

Patent Recognition Award

  • Bindu Krishnan, Ph.D., The Dow Chemical Company, 1 Patent
  • Carla Ali-Napo, HP Inc., 1 Patent
  • Carol T. Ozaki, HP Inc., 1 Patent
  • Hang Yan Yuen, Ph.D., HP Inc., 1 Patent
  • Monica S. Krishnan, Chevron Corporation, 1 Patent
  • Rashi Tiwari, Dow, 4 Patents

Rising Technical Contributor Award 

  • Maria Paz Ochoa, Ph.D., The Dow Chemical Company

Spark Award

  • Leteshia A. Lowe, IBM

Fellow Grade Award

  • Georgette Michko, University of Houston (Retired)

Award recipients will be recognized at the WE21 Conference on October 21-23, 2021 in Indianapolis, IN in the WE21 Awards Hall. For more information, visit

Young Engineer of the Year & Woman of Excellence

Annually, SWE-HA awards one of our members with E-Week’s Young Engineer of the Year Award ( and Federation of Houston Professional Women’s (FHPW) Woman of Excellence Award.

2023 Young Engineer of the Year – Julie Surfus

Please join us in congratulating Julie Surfus as our 2023 Young Engineer of the Year! We are so proud of her! We will be celebrating her accomplishments on February 20th.

Julie Surfus is a Senior Energy Engineer for Siemens Smart Infrastructure, helping customers throughout the US identify and take action towards their decarbonization goals. She helps quantify and implement energy efficiency strategies and clean energy solutions through a sustainability consulting approach. Prior to joining Siemens, Julie spent 8 years at Dow in hydrocarbons manufacturing as a Process Automation Team Lead followed by a Supply Chain Manager role. She was selected to participate in the Dow Sustainability Academy and helped execute corporate sustainability initiatives. She is a continuous learner, fueled by her passion for travel and the outdoors.

Julie holds a degree in Chemical and Biological Engineering from the University of Colorado – Boulder where she began her involvement with SWE in 2010. She served as the collegiate section Vice President for 2 terms, leading the flagship Evening with Industry event.  As an alumna, she enjoys mentoring and being a Houston Area Engineering Ambassador. As a SWE Houston Area professional member, she has participated on the Professional Development Committee, acted as a Networking Committee Co-chair, and is currently the Professional Development Chair. Her career path began with an internship awarded at the WE12 National
Conference and came full circle participating as both a speaker and exhibitor at WE22.

2022 FHPW Woman of Excellence – Amy Gelsinger

Amy Gelsinger was President of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) – Houston Area Section
during FY19-20. She is a Manager at KPMG working as a Consultant in their Energy Solutions business. Amy is originally from Rochester, NY, but has lived in six states in the USA and Canada since leaving New York. After earning a bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering at The Ohio State University and a master’s in Mechanical Engineering with a specialization in engine systems
from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, she spent ten years working in Engine Research and
Development at Caterpillar, where she got to make heavy-duty diesel engines better for the
environment. Amy, and her husband Shawn, spent three years living and working in Calgary,
Canada, where Amy enjoyed hiking the Rockies and working with Engineers Without Borders to
promote Fair Trade. Upon returning to Houston, they purchased a house that had flooded
during Hurricane Harvey, and they proceeded to rebuild the home themselves. Amy continues
to do home renovations in her spare time. Amy was a Founder of the SWE Calgary Global
Affiliate, FY17-FY18, and is Global Coaching Lead, SWE Leadership Coaching Committee, FY22.

2022 Young Engineer of the Year – Emily Friedman

Congratulations to our Young Engineer of the Year, Emily Friedman! Emily Friedman is an experienced sustainability leader and market editor. Driven by a passion for people and our planet, she takes pride in covering US recycled plastics markets for ICIS. Prior to ICIS, Emily was a Corrosion Expert and Reliability Engineer at ExxonMobil, serving both refining and petrochemical operations in Baytown, TX. She brings to the table polymers research experience from 3M and Six Sigma manufacturing knowledge and data analytics skills from GE Aviation. Emily holds a degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Virginia Tech, where she graduated Magna Cum Laude. 

Emily has been an active member of SWE since 2015 and is passionate about diversity and inclusion, especially in underrepresented fields like engineering. Beginning as a collegiate member in the Virginia Tech Section, she went on to become President, establishing a Freshman Rising Leader scholarship and planning a global STEM outreach trip, by partnering with WomEng in Malawi. Since joining the Houston Area section, Emily has planned several events and served as the FY2021 Secretary. She currently holds the position of Networking Co-Chair. In her free time, Emily enjoys listening to podcasts, drinking wine, trying different yoga studios and exploring new places around town with her husband Scott.

2021 FHPW Woman of Excellence – Leteshia Lowe

Leteshia is a senior test and quality assurance engineer at IBM, where she is responsible for the testing of the IBM FlashSystem product family, an all-flash enterprise storage platform and critical piece of IBM’s hybrid multi-cloud strategy. For overall improvement of quality in the IBM FlashSystem product line, Leteshia was awarded the IBM Outstanding Innovation Award, 2019. Recently, she was awarded the Black Engineer of the Year Award STEM – Outstanding Achievement Award – Modern-Day Technology Leader, 2021.

Leteshia is currently responsible for a team of quality assurance engineers who analyze field failures and then drive improvements into development and test to cover the gaps. She and her team are continually under intense pressure to deliver industry-leading quality in the shortest possible time. She uniquely stands out not just for her talent but also because she is one of the very few women in her area in such a visible and critical role.

She has been an active member of SWE-HA since 2014 and has been a leader with elected positions at the section level. Serving as the current SWE-HA membership chair, she empowers and inspires young professional engineers to participate and get involved in the society at all levels.

2020 FHPW Woman of Excellence – Susan Howes

In recognition of her long standing commitment and leadership within the SWE-HA organization, Susan Howes, PE, PHR, has been nominated for the 2020 FHPW Woman of Excellence! Susan is Vice President of Engineering at Subsurface Consultants & Associates, LLC, with responsibility for consultancy, recruitment, and training services.

A UT petroleum engineering graduate, Howes held roles in reservoir engineering, business development and HR at Anadarko, and in talent development and reservoir management at Chevron, where she served on Chevron’s SWE Steering Team. Howes chairs UT PGE Distinguished Alumni Committee and serves on UT PGE External Advisory Committee, CSM PE Department Program Advisory Board, Girl Scouts-SJC Board of Directors and SPE US Advisory Council.  Howes received SPE DeGolyer Distinguished Service Medal, is Honorary Member of SPE, and is SPE Distinguished Lecturer 2019/2020.

Howes served as co-chair of the 2020 SWE-HA 40th Anniversary Celebration and Scholarship Fundraiser, on the 2020 SWE-HA nominating committee, and as SWE-HA Alternate Section Representative in 2016 /2017. All to say, Susan is awesome!

2020 Young Engineer of the Year – Tamara Rodriguez

Tamara Rodriguez Diaz earned her B.S. in Civil Engineering from the University of Puerto Rico at Mayaguez (UPRM). Upon graduation she started working at TranSystems in Houston, TX. Tamara is an experienced civil engineer with a demonstrated history of working in the transportation engineering industry. Her significant projects have included the analysis and design of highways, local roadways, roadway drainage design, and railway projects. She has worked on projects for a variety of clients including TxDOT, City of Houston, Harris County Toll Road Authority, Chevron Phillips Chemical Company, Oldcastle Materials Texas, BNSF, and UPRR. Tamara has been an active member of SWE since 2010. She is passionate about supporting women in STEM and promoting the education of STEM programs within young girls from K-12. In her free time, you can find her playing volleyball, reading, and traveling.​

2019 Young Engineer of the Year – Victoria Herman

Please join us in congratulating Victoria Herman, VP of Career Guidance, as our YEOY 2019 Award Recipient!

Victoria Herman, P.E is licensed in 38 states and works as mechanical design engineer for Jacobs where she designs HVAC systems, plumbing systems and energy models for buildings. She has 10 years of experience with HVAC and plumbing systems for sustainable buildings. Victoria is certified as a LEED Professional, Green Globes Professional (GGP) and Guiding Principles Compliance Professional (GPCP). She holds a degree in Architectural Engineering from the University of Colorado at Boulder where she graduated Magna Cum Laude.  

Victoria has been an active member of SWE since 2008 and is passionate about empowering young girls and women to pursue goals in engineering.  She has been a valuable member to both the SWE Rocky Mountain and SWE Houston section. In Houston, Victoria has served as a Section Representative, has held multiple terms as SWE Houston’s VP of Career Guidance, and has led the section’s annual Introduce a Girl to Engineering Program. Victoria is also active in the Houston chapter of the American Society of Heating, Refrigerating and Air-Conditioning Engineers (ASHRAE). She lives in the Houston’s Near Northside Neighborhood with her husband Michael and their two dogs.

Carolyn Cooper, recognized by the HBJ 40 Under 40!

The Houston Business Journal is once again proud to announce the annual 40 Under 40 honorees. The Class of 2019 includes several founders, CEOs and other leaders of both for-profit companies and nonprofit organizations and at least one author. 

The Houston community is home to numerous accomplished individuals under the age of 40, and this year HBJ received more than 500 nominations. To be considered, nominees had to reside in the 10-county Houston area and be under 40 years of age as of Dec. 31, 2018. A panel of judges from across industries scored the nominees on leadership, overcoming challenges and community involvement.

All of the 40 honorees will be recognized at an event on June 13 at Chapman & Kirby in East Downtown as well as in a special section of HBJ’s June 14 weekly edition. Click here for more information about the event.