Chris LaFleur, D.Eng., P.E.

Advocating Women in Engineering Award

Chris LaFleur, Advocating Women in Engineering Award, Headshot

Chris LaFleur, D.Eng., P.E.

Sandia National Laboratories

For transformational advocacy that encourages others to bring their whole selves to work; and for dedicated outreach to LGBTQ youth and girls in STEM in the greater community.

 

Chris LaFleur, D.Eng., P.E., is program lead for hydrogen safety, codes, and standards at Sandia National Laboratories, where her main research involves evaluating fire risks for emerging energy technologies. Dr. LaFleur’s recent work includes characterizing the risks from traffic incidents involving hydrogen fuel cell vehicles in tunnels for several metropolitan areas on the East Coast. Her work enables the safe implementation of cleaner transportation fuels to increase availability of renewable energy solutions.

Dr. LaFleur is an internationally recognized expert in hydrogen safety and serves as chair of the technical committee for the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) 2, Hydrogen Technologies Code. She also serves on the U.S. Department of Energy Hydrogen Safety Panel. In 2017, she received the Government Award from the Clean Energy Education and Empowerment organization for her work enabling clean energy technologies.

Prior to joining Sandia, Dr. LaFleur worked for General Motors, where she managed corporate fire protection standards and was responsible for property insurance and enterprise risk management.

Recently named a Sandia Distinguished Member of Technical Staff, Dr. LaFleur is well known for mentoring women staff and managers. She influences Sandia’s culture and organization, especially through her service as chair of the Sandia Pride Alliance Network (SPAN), an employee resource group (ERG) dedicated to positively influencing the workplace for a diverse, LGBTQ population.

Unsatisfied with just one June event celebrating Pride, Dr. LaFleur envisioned and implemented the Pride Blitz, a monthlong series of educational and community events reflecting the diversity of the SPAN community. Each event was designed to team with another ERG to show the connections between the groups and encourage participation and attendance.

Dr. LaFleur’s dedication to SPAN has been transformational. It has grown from approximately 40 members to almost 500 in the past five years. With 12 active board members and an engaged executive champion, SPAN has become a source of advice and lessons learned in development and growth for other ERGs at Sandia.

Beyond the workplace, Dr. LaFleur engages with local students; was featured in “Why I Am a Scientist,” a New Mexico Public Broadcasting Service video for young viewers; and serves on the board of a local nonprofit that provides housing and support to LGBTQ youth experiencing homelessness. She also teaches fire science to young women through National Museum of Nuclear Science and History programs and The University of New Mexico Women in STEM.

Dr. LaFleur earned a B.S. in geology and mechanical engineering from the University of Rochester, an M.S. in fire protection engineering from the University of Maryland, and a D.Eng. in manufacturing engineering from the University of Michigan. She enjoys hiking, biking, and camping across New Mexico. She is also a detail-oriented woodworker and wood turner.

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