The foundation’s cause is to attract young women to enter careers in any sector of aviation and aerospace, by recognizing and celebrating the achievements of accomplished women in these fields.
We strive to inspire and encourage increased participation in aviation and aerospace by promoting awareness of the vast career opportunities within. We work closely with organizations to ensure they recognize and benefit from women’s diverse talents.
To be recognized as the pinnacle aviation and aerospace organization that inspires, supports and promotes women in these fields.
President, Director, Sales
As president and owner of Apex Aircraft Sales Ltd., Anna has over 25 years of experience negotiating hundreds of aircraft sales. She has been flying since 1977 and holds a multi-engine, commercial, instrument and float rating. She earned a degree in Economics from York University in 1985 and a second BA in Humanities in 2002. Anna is a member of AOPA, COPA, the International Organization of Women Pilots, The Ninety-Nines, Women in Aerospace Canada, and Women in Aviation International.
Joy Parker Blackwood
Vice President, Director, Foundation Development & Event Production
Joy was an owner and partner of Thoron Productions Limited and Bankten Communication Services Ltd., which produced major industrial shows and other event marketing activities throughout North America and Europe from the 1970s until 2006. Joy is currently President and owner of Waypointers, Inc. a seniors’ relocation service, and is the Executive Director of the C.R. Vint Foundation, a Private Foundation. Joy received her Private Pilot certificate in 1982 and joined The Ninety-Nines, Inc. in 1983. Within the aviation industry she has served as 99s First Canadian Chapter Chairman, 99s East Canada Section Governor, Director, 99s International Board of Directors, and 99s Amelia Earhart Memorial Scholarship Trust Chairman. She was inducted into the International Forest of Friendship in Atchison, Kansas in 2003. Joy was 1st Vice President and Treasurer of the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI) General Aviation Commission, Director of Marketing in the Aero Club of Canada, and Vice President of the Canadian Precision Flying Association. She is an FAI International Judge. Joy is also a member of Women In Aviation International, Women in Aerospace Canada, COPA, Silver Wings Fraternity, Commemorative Air Force, Canadian Air & Space Museum and, US Air Force National Museum.
Cathy Fraser is a captain on the B787 at Air Canada. Prior to her airline career, she flew corporate, charter and cargo flights. She also worked as a flight instructor and designated flight test examiner. She has been a Ninety-Nine for 30 years and has been a past governor of the East Canada Section as well as an Amelia Earhart scholarship recipient. Other associations include ISA and Women in Aviation. Cathy is a past organizer of the biennial Canadian Women in Aviation conference and is currently a member of the Elsie MacGill Northern Lights Award committee.
Director, Relationships Development
Kathleen received her private pilot's certificate on St. Patrick's Day in 1979. Exactly one year later she received her commercial certificate including a multi-engine instrument rating and proceeded to fly throughout North America for various individuals and corporations. During this time she also worked selling general aviation aircraft where she met and worked with the founder of NLAF, Anna Pangrazzi. In 1988 Kathleen left flying to work in the Aerospace industry to sell regional aircraft for Boeing Canada - de Havilland Division, flight training devices for Atlantis Aerospace, and commercial aircraft for Bombardier Inc. to airlines worldwide. Kathleen has also worked as Director in the Programs department at Bombardier in the development days of the C Series commercial aircraft family. Kathleen is currently negotiating commercial aircraft transactions for Bombardier in the Americas region.
Director, Marketing & Advertising
Paola Fierro joined Porter Airlines in 2006. Today, she shares duties as a Captain as well as an Approved Check Pilot. Paola's flying career also included flying a Learjet 35 for Skyservice Air Ambulance, Jetstream 31/32 for Skyservice Aviation and a Cheyenne II for the OSSTF. Paola's passion for flying started at a very early age when she took her first flight at 14 years of age. She earned a degree in Environmental Studies in 1996 from York University. Paola takes an active role with Women in Aviation International, and other aviation organizations that promote women’s success in all sectors.
Director, Education & Scholarships
Judy became the first female pilot hired by Air Canada, Canada’s largest airline, on April 1978 at the age of 23. She was the first woman to graduate from Selkirk College’s Aviation Technology Program in 1975. Throughout her flying career of 40 years and over 23,000 hours, she has flown the DC-3, Twin Otter, Hawker Siddeley 748, DC-9, Lockheed 1011, Airbus 320, Boeing 767 and 777 to the far corners of the world. She retired in 2015, and then fulfilled a lifelong dream by taking an aerobatics course. Judy is an inspirational speaker and has volunteered to work with the Canadian Women in Aviation conference, Dreams Take Flight, and Wings of Courage. In 2015, she received the Elsie MacGill Northern Lights award in the Flight Operations category, and in 2016 was chosen by the 99s to be on its Canadian postage stamp.
Director, Historical Preservation
Jennifer is passionate about the profound impact that story-telling has on an audience. Jennifer has developed and produced communications and marketing products for broadcast TV, digital platforms, and for non-profit organizations. Diversity, recognition, and the important role that women have in the aviation industry is just the start of what Jennifer wants to share. Her strong belief that stories of tributes, struggles, and triumphs that represent all women aviators from past to present is just one way to raise awareness – but that these same stories will also inspire a new generation of female aviators.
Director, New Media
Claire Lemiski lives and breathes aviation. While completing a degree in Aviation and Geography at Trinity Western University, she took summer jobs as a ramp attendant, dispatcher and skydive pilot. Claire then joined Bombardier Aerospace as a participant in the Graduate Development Program, and subsequently in Q Series Flight Test Engineering. Keen to move from the jumpseat to the pilot’s seat, Claire earned her Dash 8 Q400 type endorsement and flew Bombardier’s corporate shuttle between Montreal and Toronto. She holds an Airline Transport Pilot License and is now a first officer with Porter Airlines. Claire is actively involved with The Ninety-Nines, Canadian Women in Aviation, and Women Soar at Porter. She is passionate about providing mentorship and encouragement to new and aspiring pilots.
In 2009 a small group of Ninety-Nines (International Organization of Women Pilots) from the First Canadian Chapter, under the leadership of the award creator, Anna Pangrazzi, met to discuss the purpose and vision for this exciting new initiative.
As is typical of this group of dynamic and talented women, the idea was to begin the first award dinner event the same year. With no time to waste, the Elsie MacGill Awards and the first event was locked in for October 1st at The School Restaurant in Markham/Unionville.
How was the name Elsie MacGill Awards chosen?
There were three basic considerations: 1- to name a woman who made a significant contribution to aviation and/or aerospace in Canada; 2- to visually signify Canada; and 3- should it be named after an individual?
The name Elsie MacGill
Elsie Gregory MacGill was a significant achiever in Canada with multiple talents both within and outside aviation, who pushed towards her goals with a physical handicap that didn’t stop her. This award is named after Vancouver-born Elsie Gregory MacGill. Elsie lived by what she called her “golden thread”….passionate, yet objective. She grabbed onto this thread throughout her unique and often challenging life. She was the first Canadian woman to graduate with a degree in electrical engineering, the first woman in North America with an advanced degree in aeronautics, and the world’s first woman to become an aircraft designer. Elsie designed, oversaw production and was aboard the test flight of the Maple Leaf Trainer II. She was “Queen of the Hurricanes” and pivotal in the production of the Hawker Hurricane in Canada during World War II and designed a series of modifications including de-icing and skis to equip the plane for cold weather flying. She went on to serve on aeronautical research and regulatory committees for the National Research Council and the United Nations. During her appointment to the Canadian Royal Commission on the Status of Women, she supported abortion and tax laws that made women responsible for themselves. Among several awards, Elsie earned four honourary doctorates, made an officer of the Order of Canada, and The Ninety-Nines, Inc., International Organization of Women Pilots presented her with the Amelia Earhart Memorial Scholarship medallion. All her work and achievements were accomplished even though she contracted polio at the age of 24. The only thing that this stopped was her deep desire to obtain a pilot’s certificate. However, from the rear seat of the Maple Leaf Trainer and for thousands of hours hovering over her engineering drafting table, Elsie flew.
Mailing Address: 10 Forest Trail, Stouffville, Ontario, Canada L4A 2E6
Ontario Not For Profit Corporation Number
80994 9688 RC0001