The foundation’s mission is to encourage women in Canada to succeed in careers in aviation and aerospace by:
- recognizing and celebrating the achievements of accomplished women;
- engaging in outreach;
- facilitating mentorship; and
- providing scholarship opportunities.
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.
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.
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
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’ downsizing and relocation service. 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.
Lynne McMullen is Director Business Development for the School of Aviation at Seneca College in Toronto and Peterborough, Ontario, and was part of the leadership team that designed and built the world class Peterborough facility. Within her current portfolio, and previously as School Chair, Lynne is directly involved with student recruitment and industry relations including developing employment opportunities. She was instrumental in developing and establishing unique partnerships with the Department of National Defence, Jazz Aviation LP, Air Georgian and Sunwing Airlines. Lynne holds an ATPL, is a Class 1 Flight Instructor and a Pilot Examiner. Lynne was honoured to be the 2014 recipient of the Elsie MacGill Northern Lights Award in the Education category. She enjoys working directly with industry through board positions with the Aviation Accreditation Board International, the Northern Lights Aero Foundation, Collegiate Aviation Canada and the Air Transport Association of Canada.
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 board member of the Northern Lights Aero Foundation.
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.
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 captain 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.
A flight in a small airplane in 2005 was all it took to make Lesley realize that she wanted aviation to be a part of her life. It was love at first flight! Never content to just “go along for the ride” in life, she quit her corporate job and obtained her Private Pilot license.
Lesley loves to share her passion for flying with others and she has received awards for introducing women and young people to aviation through ‘discovery-flight’ events. She is the founder and leader of Girls Take Flight, a free aviation event that takes place annually at the Oshawa Airport.
Lesley is an active member of the Ninety-Nines and currently holds the position of Secretary for the East Canada Section. She is a Field Representative for the EAA Young Eagles program and holds memberships in several aviation organizations, including the Ninety-Nines, COPA, EAA, and Women in Aviation International.
Julie has been flying for 20 years. She started flying lessons at the Island Airport while at U of T doing her BSc; she then went to Seneca College to do the rest of her flight training. She was a flight instructor for 5 years before working for Air Georgian out of Toronto Pearson. She joined Porter Airlines in 2009 and over the 10 years, worked on many company programs and initiatives including Assistant Chief Pilot, Recruitment and Retention. In 2019 she joined Jazz Aviation as the Chief Pilot Line Operations in Toronto.
As the Chief Pilot Line Operations, she is a Captain on the Q400 and flies within the Jazz network as well as supports the Toronto operation. In this role she will continue to support pilot recruitment and work towards the promotion of engaging more women in aviation.
Julie started at Air Canada in 1987. She was a Customer Service agent working both in the call center and the Montreal airport. She soon realized she wanted to work more on the technical side of the airline. After a few years in the weight and balance department, Julie obtained her flight dispatch license and moved to Toronto to the Flight Dispatch department. There she went on to be the first woman Chief Flight Dispatcher and soon became the first director of the entire Aeronautical department. Presently, Julie is the Chief Operating Officer at Air Georgian overseeing all aspects of operations including flight operations, maintenance, SOC, inflight, customer service, safety, security, reliability, and efficiency. Prior to this role, she served as Director of International Operations and Customer Service where she ultimately oversaw and supported 71 international stations and call centres, as well as all aspects of customer relations.
She has been a member of International Air Transport Association (IATA) and Chair for the Regional Coordinating Group for Safety, Operations and Infrastructure for the Latin America and Caribbean regions, and a committee member for the Customer Experience Board (CEB) for Star Alliance.
Julie proudly serves as the President for Dreams Take Flight and is a board member for the Canadian International Air Show. She is also a passionate ambassador for the Air Canada Foundation. In 2018, she received an Elsie MacGill Northern Lights Award in the Business category.
Anna Rusinowski is a Private Pilot with a thirst for adventure. She was first inspired to take up flying while living in Australia, and has been flying for fun ever since her return to Canada 5 years ago. She is an active member of the Ninety-Nines and a fierce supporter of women in the industry. On her days off from working at TJX Canada she spends her time flying with her adopted Grandfather in his Piper Tripacer and eating sandwiches in a Hawaiian shirt at Collingwood Airport. A happy-go-lucky member of the aviation community, be sure to say “Hi!” and introduce yourself if you see her. She would love to meet you!
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