Outstanding Collegiate Member

Kelli Ross

The Ohio State University

For stellar leadership that blends strategic thinking with initiative and follow-through; and for deep commitment to SWE and expanding its mission of inclusivity to underrepresented groups in STEM.

Kelli Ross is a senior at The Ohio State University, completing a B.S. in industrial and systems engineering. In addition to her studies, she is an undergraduate teaching assistant for engineering economics and the treasurer of Out in STEM at Ohio State. Ross has completed internships and co-ops with Walt Disney World and Johnson & Johnson, during which she discovered an enthusiasm for lean and Six Sigma management techniques. She now holds a lean green belt and seeks a Six Sigma green belt through her senior design capstone with Richard M. Ross Heart Hospital.

From her first Society of Women Engineers OSU Collegiate Section (OSU-SWE) meeting, Ross found a community of friends, advocates, and opportunities. She has since held numerous leadership positions and has expanded the section’s diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging (DEI&B) initiatives. Most recently, she served as vice president of OSU-SWE, the largest student organization in OSU’s College of Engineering. In this role, she led monthly meetings of up to 200 attendees. She was responsible for the section’s scholarship program and encouraged the leadership development of section officers using SWE’s Leadership Competency Model.

Under her leadership, OSU-SWE received a WE Local Award for its Joint Professional/Collegiate Event, in which Ross connected eight Ohio-based sections. She hosted two award-winning WE22 Mission Award events — a networking and panel event with OSU-SWE alumni and a public policy event on employer evaluation and DEI&B. The latter was selected as a conference session for WE Local Hartford, where Ross led a 45-minute interactive presentation about prioritizing DEI&B in industry. Ross also promoted allyship for the LGBTQ+ community, helping establish the first affinity group in the section.

In previous OSU-SWE roles, Ross prioritized the retention of members and alumni while managing recordkeeping and key performance indicators. She leveraged a virtual platform to expand the section’s network to regional campuses and community colleges. She also expanded the section’s Freshmen Ambassador Program, individually mentoring eight leaders. Ross reinvigorated the section’s alumni communications, established a LinkedIn account, and introduced events targeted toward learning from alumnae. She has also mentored seven students in the Big-Little Program at OSU.

At the Society level, Ross is the FY24 coordinator for the Leadership Development Program (LDP) beginner track, for which she collaborates to review applications, develops curriculum, and leads monthly sessions. She has helped LDP participants grow as leaders internally and externally and is eager to lead the program on her own in FY24. Ross also serves as the membership lead for the LGBTQ+ and Allies affinity group.

Ross received the WE Local Rising Star and Guiding Star awards for her contributions in FY21 and FY23, respectively. She plans to remain active in SWE after graduation and to continue advocating for all STEM fields.

Ross is an avid reader, and in her free time, enjoys trying new coffee shops and attending group fitness classes.