SWE-NESS Officers

President –

Yadira Gilchrest joined SWE in 2003 shortly after receiving the Helen Martha Sternberg Award at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center (NUWC) Division Newport.  Yadira has served several executive board and committee chair positions in the past including membership committee, secretary, treasurer and president.  In her spare time Yadira enjoys reading, going to the beach and spending time with her family.  She is the coleader for a local Girl Scout troop. She has two daughters ages 10 and 15.
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Vice President, Professional Development Chair – Cary Kaczowka

​Cary Kaczowka returned to New England in 2022 after spending a decade in aerospace in Seattle, WA. She currently works for Raytheon Technologies as a Program Manager in Portsmouth, RI. She has a background in Mechanical Engineering and Design, Innovation & Society from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, as well as an MS in Materials Engineering from the University of Southern California. In addition to her SWE involvement, Cary spends much of her free time racing, cruising, and maintaining her sailboat, as well as outdoor adventuring. In the winter she can be found teaching women’s engine and marine diesel courses. [Check out her personal page here.]
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Secretary – 
​Christina Hayes

Christina Hayes graduated from the University of Rhode Island International Engineering Program in 2014 with bachelor’s degrees in Biomedical Engineering and German. She currently works at Becton Dickinson as a quality engineer supporting the development of surgical mesh and fixation products. She was an active Girl Scout growing up, and now enjoys camping and hiking with her son, husband and German Shepherd. 
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​– Donna Matthews​

Donna Matthews is a charter member of SWE NESS and is running for the position of
Treasurer. She has held positions in SWE NESS for 33 years including President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer, Membership Chair and Archives Chair. She took a “short” break for 7 years to serve as the Committee Chair for her sons’ Boy Scout Troop then returned to SWE-NESS to serve as the Treasurer in FY19, FY20 and FY21. Donna retired as a mechanical engineer from the Naval Undersea Warfare Center Division Newport after 34 years, serving as a supervisor for the last 6+ years. She used many lessons learned in leadership from SWE-NESS in her professional career. Since retiring, Donna has traveled, skied mid- week, sewed costumes for local theaters, gardened, coordinated 2 SWE-NESS outreach programs and, thanks to COVID-19, sewed masks, volunteered at the emergency food bank, local COVID vaccination clinics and the local Covid testing site. She is also the proud mom of 2 college grads!
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Communications Chair – Amanda Walsh

Amanda Walsh graduated from Tufts University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Ocean Engineering at the University of Rhode Island. Amanda works at the Naval Undersea Warfare Center in Newport, RI as an analyst that models SONAR systems. In her free time, Amanda enjoys spending time with friends going to restaurants or the beach, gardening, and cooking. Amanda is responsible for maintaining the SWE-NESS website and Facebook group.

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Membership Chair
​- Alice Connelli

Alice Connelli graduated from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in biomedical and mechanical engineering. She has been an active SWE member since her collegiate years and currently works at Becton Dickinson as a product development engineer supporting the development of soft tissue implants. In her free time, Alice enjoys traveling, cooking, and spending time outdoors with her black lab.
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Outreach Chair
​- Jessica Petraitis

Jessica Petraitis has been an active SWE member for more than 11 years.  She served as president of her collegiate SWE section at the University of Louisville, where she graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees in bioengineering in 2016.  After college, Jessica worked as a product development engineer on various medical devices at Becton Dickinson. She recently moved into a new role as a human factors engineer supporting dialysis software at Fresenius Medical Care. In her free time, Jessica enjoys reading, hiking, and playing tennis.
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Available Positions

Social Chair – Available

Fundraising Chair – Available