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Wall of Fame

The Elsie Award Wall of Fame honours the rich history of women in aviation and aerospace: business leaders, pilots, teachers, mentors and enthusiasts from the industry. The Wall of Fame recognizes individuals that have made great achievements or contributed significantly to the professional growth and development of women locally, within the province and in the country.

2023 Elsie Award Recipients

Cathy Press

Business Award

Cathy Press, CEO of Chinook Helicopters, holds both Fixed Wing and Rotary Wing ATPLs, Class 1 Instructor and Pilot Examiner ratings. In 1997, she became the first female helicopter flight instructor in Canada. She has received numerous awards including: Elevate Aviation’s ‘Inspire’ award; Bank of Montreal’s Innovation and Global Growth Award, and, Enterprise Magazine’s Enterprising Women of the Year award. In 2019, she was recognized as one of Canada’s “Most Powerful Women” by the Women’s Executive Network. Cathy is actively involved with various industry organizations and serves on multiple boards. She has recently expanded European training partnerships in Canada and is leading the revolutionary “Virtual Simulator” project at Chinook. With a remarkable background in aviation, Cathy’s leadership has driven Chinook’s growth, expanded its training programs and established strategic partnerships. Her accomplishments have made her a role model and catalyst for change in the industry.

Cathy Press

Dr. Joana Rocha

Dr. Joana Rocha

Education Award

Dr. Joana Rocha is a Professor in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at Carleton University, in Ottawa, Ontario. She joined the department in 2012 as an Assistant Professor, became an Associate Professor in July 2017, and Full Professor in July of 2023. Prior to joining Carleton, Dr. Rocha was a visiting researcher at NASA Langley Research Centre and the National Institute of Aerospace in Virginia. She received her PhD and MASc degrees at the University of Victoria. Her research focuses on aircraft noise prediction, design and optimization of aircraft structures for noise reduction, aero-acoustics, turbulence-flow induced noise, structural acoustics and turbulence modelling. She and her research team have collaborated with Bombardier and the NRC. She has received several research awards including a Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council’s Discovery Grant. Joana is a past Associate Chair of Graduate Studies in her department. She has participated in talks and outreach events, encouraging women to pursue engineering and sciences.

Heather Beaton

Engineering Award

Heather Beaton is a Fellow in Bombardier’s Aircraft Design & Development engineering organization, providing leadership and decision-making to critical strategic, safety and certification decisions across Bombardier sites and platforms.

She has been at Bombardier since 1988 and has held various engineering positions in their product development teams over the years, including product planning and new aircraft studies for new and derivative models with Bombardier’s Advanced Design and Strategic Technology teams. This includes development, flight test, certification and continued airworthiness of the CRJ series, Challenger 300 & 600 series, Global Express G5/6500 and G7500 series and the C Series/A220. She has been Knowledge Owner for the control systems knowledge domain and Chair of the SAE International A-6A Systems Integration Committee.

Heather founded the Bombardier’s Women in Engineering affinity group, providing networking, mentoring and project opportunities.

Heather Beaton

Kristin Long

Captain Kristin Long

Flight Operations Award

Kristin Long is a Captain and Standards Pilot on the B737 at WestJet Airlines. She began her aviation career as a flight attendant while attending university. She has a Bachelor of Science degree from the University of British Columbia and an Aviation Diploma from the University of the Fraser Valley and Coastal Pacific Aviation. Prior to the airline, her flying experience included passenger, cargo and medevac flights to remote communities throughout Manitoba and northwestern Ontario. To date, she has logged over 15,000 hours. Kristin is active in many organizations and boards, including Women of Winnipeg (WoW) and the inaugural board of the RCAF Foundation. She is the founding president of Northern Spirit Chapter of Women in Aviation, Committee Chair of the annual Girls in Aviation Day and is an honorary Colonel with the Royal Canadian Armed Forces. She volunteers with the Royal Aviation Museum of Western Canada. Kristin is also the proud mother of two boys.

Major Catherine Cabot

Government Award

Major Catherine Cabot is an aerospace engineer in the Canadian Armed Forces. She has held a variety of positions supporting the CP 140 Aurora fleet in first line maintenance and software projects. Catherine has also had the privilege of serving as Aide-de-Camp to the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) and Executive Assistant to the Chief of Staff to the CDS. Most recently, she was the Deputy Commanding Officer of 3 Air Maintenance Squadron, responsible for second line maintenance of the CF188s. Catherine will take on a new challenge this summer as the Senior Aide-de-Camp to the Governor General. Her past deployments have included Afghanistan (2013) and Romania (2022). Catherine earned her undergraduate degree in software engineering from Concordia University, a post-graduate degree in Aerospace Program Management from University of Manitoba and a Master of Public Administration from the Royal Military College of Canada. She is currently pursuing a Doctorate of Business Administration with a focus on project management at l’Université du Québec en Outaouais. Catherine is also the proud mother of two.

Catherine Cabot

Glenna Sharrat

Glenna Sharratt

Trailblazer Award

Glenna Sharratt is a flight operations consultant providing regulatory support and guidance to Canadian air operators for the past 20 years. She has more than 45 years in the aviation industry with experience as a commercial pilot, advanced flight training instructor, approved check pilot, 20 years as a Transport Canada Flight Operations Inspector and 20 years as a consultant. Inspired by her father, Glenn Sharratt, a private pilot who loved to fly his Mooney as often as possible, she started flying when she was 19 years old. She earned her Private Pilot’s Licence at the Brandon Flying Club in three weeks, her commercial pilot licence a few months later, and then her multi-engine and instrument ratings before she was 21 years old. Her first flying job was on a Cessna 337 in Manitoba. In 1976, she became the first female pilot at Perimeter Aviation, based in Winnipeg. In 1983, Glenna joined Transport Canada as an Inspector where she worked in the Ottawa, Winnipeg, Vancouver and Victoria offices. In 2003, she started GS Aviation Consulting Inc., based in Victoria, B.C. which has become a well-respected flight operations consulting business. She has assisted hundreds of air operators with AOC start-ups, quality assurance audits, Company Operations Manuals, etc. Glenna has been a member of the Manitoba Aviation Council, the Canadian Business Aviation Association, the BC Aviation Council and the Northern Air Transport Association.

Alisha Sohpaul

Rising Star Award

Alisha Sohpaul is a Transport Canada Airworthiness Inspector and is proudly part of the 2.8% of female AMEs in Canada. Recognizing the need for mentorship, she co-founded the “Hangar Queens”, the first female AME network in Canada. She is a licensed M1 and M2 Aircraft Maintenance Engineer and has been working in the industry for the past nine years. In addition, Alisha has been a maintenance controller and a line maintenance supervisor. She volunteers with Canadian Women in Aviation and Elevate Aviation. She has been Vice-President of the Pacific Aircraft Maintenance Engineering Association and serves on the BC Aviation Council Youth Engagement committee. Alisha is passionate about giving back to the industry and enjoys promoting aviation career options for young women.

Alisha Sohpaul

Yasna Taieb

Yasna Taieb

Rising Star Award

Yasna Taieb first joined the aviation community through the Royal Canadian Air Cadets Program, where she earned her glider and private pilot licenses. Yasna went on to join the Cadet Instructor Cadre of the Canadian Forces Reserves and currently holds the rank of Lieutenant. She has taught glider and private pilot ground schools to youth in five different squadrons and is presently the Training Officer with 540 Golden Hawks. Yasna is actively involved with The Ninety-Nines, Women in Aviation, Dreams Take Flight and The Northern Lights Aero Foundation, leading the mentorship and social media programs. Yasna works with women in the Canadian Afghan community to reach their full potential through leading grant-funded community initiatives. She holds her Commercial Pilot License and will be working on her multi-IFR ratings with the intention of continuing her studies in aviation safety and human factors. She is currently an in-flight operations manager with Jazz Aviation.

2022 Elsie Award Recipients

Arielle Meloul-Wechsler

Business Award

Arielle Meloul-Wechsler is Air Canada’s Executive Vice President, Chief Human Resources Officer and Public Affairs, and has been a member of Air Canada’s Executive team since 2013. She has oversight for all human resources and culture change initiatives across the company, labour relations, labour and litigation legal services, customer service training, as well as internal and external communications, government relations and community investments to support Air Canada’s goal of becoming a Global Champion. Under Arielle’s leadership, Air Canada has been named for multiple consecutive years, one of Canada’s Top 100 Employers, one of Montreal’s Top Employers, one of Canada’s Top Diversity Employers, in addition to being recognized as one of the Top 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures in Canada. Arielle also has oversight for both the Air Canada Foundation as well as Air Canada’s CSR Reporting. Arielle was elected President of Airline People Directors’ Council (APDC), an exclusive global Airline HR Leaders’ Network, in March 2017. She was recognized by the Women’s Executive Network in 2019 as of one Canada’s 100 Most Powerful Women in Business in the Corporate Executive category. She is a Member of the Conseil du Patronat, and she also serves on the Board of Directors of the Air Canada Foundation; the National Airlines Council of Canada (NACC), the Canadian American Business Council, and Element Fleet Management Corp.

Stéphanie Angrand

Education Award

Currently an instructor at the Canadian Forces leadership and recruit school in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec, Stéphanie teaches basic training to all new recruits joining the Canadian Armed Forces. Stephanie joined the Canadian Forces in 2006 as an aircraft maintenance engineer. Her first posting was on the CF-18 jets in Cold Lake, Alberta where she worked as an engine technician. She got to travel all over with the jets and feel the power of afterburners with her bare hands. In 2013, she moved on to the civilian world of CRJs 700-900-1000 with Bombardier in Mirabel, Québec. She witnessed the C-series first flight ever and also did some contracting work for Skyservice in Montréal. In 2015, back with the military, Stéphanie started to work on the CH-146 Griffon helicopters (bell 412) in Saint-Hubert, Montréal. She taught the maintenance type course for three years, which sparked her passion for teaching and mentoring. She continues to teach, mentor, encourage, highlight and help women find their voice and place in this industry. With Alisha Sohpaul, she co-founded Hangar Queens, a corporation soon to become a non-profit. Through instructional capsules, workshops, calls, and social media, she wants to help women thrive and grow in numbers, and turn this 2% of women AMEs into much more.

Damineh Akhavan, P.Eng., MBA

Engineering Award

Damineh Akhavan is a Senior Engineer with more than 17 years of experience in the aerospace industry. Moreover, she is a Founder and CEO of Global Women in STEM Inc. promoting equality for women and equity-deserving groups and challenging the status quo in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) through education, advocacy, and action. Damineh holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering, a Bachelor of Science in Physics, and an MBA in International Business from the University of Victoria. She has been an advocate for Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) for women in STEM, and a champion for women in engineering, a passion that has grown over the years, especially after becoming a mother. Damineh’s true calling and lifelong goal is to serve her community with long-lasting and sustainable global impact. She’s been involved with local, provincial, federal, and global organizations in mentorship, youth outreach, advocacy, justice, and EDI initiatives for nearly two decades. She has been an active member, contributor, and collaborator with many diverse organizations serving local (University of Victoria, HR MacMillan Space Centre), provincial (Engineers and Geoscientists BC), national (Women in Aerospace Canada, Engineers Canada, Canada Beijing +25 Network, Society for Canadian Women in Science and Technology, Institute for Change Leaders), and global (Engineers Without Borders, NGO CSW/NY) communities.

Kim Winsor

Kim Winsor

Flight Operations Award

Kim is a third-generation pilot in the Winsor family from St. John’s, Newfoundland. She began her aviation career nearly 30 years ago with Provincial Airlines, initially as a flight instructor before moving on to the airline’s passenger division flying the Metroliners and Saab 340s. Before joining Air Canada in 2007 she also flew for CanJet Airlines in Halifax and Sunwing Airlines in Toronto flying throughout North America and Europe. Kim is currently a training captain on the Boeing 737Max. She has also flown the Embraer 190, Airbus 320. Additionally, for the past 12 years Kim has been involved in the training department as a simulator instructor. Her love for flying and aviation continues outside her job. Kim has flown gliders and vintage tail wheel aircraft. In her spare time, she also enjoys sailing and horseback riding. Kim has been actively involved with The Ninety Nines since 1995 and is the Governor for the East Canada Section. She is also a member of Women in Aviation International and The International Society of Women Airline Pilots. Kim enjoys mentoring young aspiring aviators.

Gisele Garceau

Government Award

Gisele Garceau was born in Berthierville, Québec, in a family of 8 children. Although she had no family influence in the aviation industry, she had a dream, to become an astronaut. To achieve that she decided to focus on becoming a pilot and master the instrumentation of a cockpit. As a result, she obtained her pilot licenses in parallel with learning avionics aircraft mechanics.

She started her career with Canadair as the first female avionics mechanics in pre-flight. Four years later she joined Transport Canada rank as the first female airworthiness inspector. In this role, she provided approvals and inspection advice to avionics shops across the country. She became the first woman to hold a Category ‘E’ avionics license for avionics. Gisele is a professional engineer, a commercial pilot and a flight instructor. Her extensive career saw her living in Ottawa and Quebec, where she conducted industry audits and inspections across the region. She spent two years in Hong Kong, studying Mandarin and was active with the French-Canadian Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong. Gisele was instrumental in writing the new regulations and rules associated with avionics work and licensing at Transport Canada. She is a strong advocate for women in non-traditional roles in the aviation and aerospace industries.

CWO (Chief Warrant Officer) Marlene Shillingford

Trailblazer Award

CWO Marlene Shillingford was born in Newmarket, Ontario and enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces over 35 years ago as an Aircraft Technician. She graduated from basic occupational training at the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering in Borden and started her career on the CT-114 Tutor at CFB Moose Jaw. In November of 1992, Marlene was selected to become the first female technician with the Canadian Forces Snowbirds and in 2006, she was selected to return as the first female Crew Chief. She has served at 8 Air Maintenance Squadron in Trenton, maintaining the CC-130 Hercules and deployed to South West Asia. Instructed future junior leaders at the RCAF Academy in Borden and was posted to the NATO Airborne Early Warning & Control Force in Geilenkirchen, Germany, deploying with NATO as the Detachment Chief in Afghanistan. Marlene served at the Canadian Forces (Joint) Warfare Centre in Ottawa, completed the Officer Professional Military Education program and in 2014 was invested into the Order of Military Merit by the Governor General of Canada. She was promoted to her current rank in 2017 and was selected as the 12 Air Maintenance Squadron CWO in Shearwater, Nova Scotia and was then appointed as the 15 Wing CWO, returning to Moose Jaw. Marlene is a mentor for Elevate Aviation and last year, she was appointed as the Division CWO at 2 Canadian Air Division in Winnipeg.

Donya Naz Divsalar

Rising Star Award

Donya obtained her BSc. Honours degree from Simon Fraser University in Health Sciences in 2019 and is currently a Master of Sciences Candidate with the Aerospace Physiology Laboratory at SFU. Prior to immigrating to Canada in 2014, Donya attended Debrecen Medical School in Hungary. She is an ambassador for the Canadian Space Agency as well as the founder of SFU Aerospace; an organization that bridges the gaps in education, technology and entrepreneurship and aims to provide technical aerospace education to non-technical students. Donya also spends her time as the science lead and payload developer of SFU Satellite Design team to bring science and CubeSat technology together by designing unique biological and biomedical payloads. She is currently working on ALEASAT, a student-made 1U CubeSat that is projected to launch in 2022. In 2019, Donya was selected as one of the Top 25 under 25 winners of Surrey Board of Trade for her work in fostering aerospace on the west coast of Canada. Donya is the founder and CEO of Caidin Biotechnologies, a start-up company that aims to improve human health and performance in extreme environments through biomedical advancements. Donya’s work will directly contribute to preserving and improving astronaut health during Lunar and Martian missions and deep space exploration.

Zainab Azim

Zainab Azim

Rising Star Award

Zainab Azim is a UNOOSA Space4Women Mentor dedicated to empowering young girls and women interested in pursuing space and STEAM fields. She is the world’s youngest Future Astronaut set to fly with Virgin Galactic, allowing her to fulfill her dream of exploring space while creating access to opportunities through her mentorship and advocacy work in order for young women to fulfill their own. She continues to use her platform to inspire and mobilize the global community as a speaker and panelist at international forums, including the inaugural UN World Space Forum in Austria and the Space Girls Space Women Exhibition to promote the cause of Access to Space for All through education and space-based solutions. She is the Founder of GIVE (Global Initiative and Vision for Education), an organization that works towards providing access to quality education in addition to innovating a holistic 21st century educational model based on neuroscience and psychology research to foster the creativity, curiosity, character, and innovation needed for solving the issues facing our planet. Zainab is also a student at the University of Toronto where she volunteers as a Research Assistant at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. She is currently working at the House of Commons of Canada to improve Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion.

2020/2021 Elsie Award Recipients

Nancy Barber

Business Award

Nancy was appointed Chief Operating Officer of Operational Industrialization, Footprint and Central Planning, for Bombardier Aviation in July 2020 and is responsible for harmonizing operational processes across all manufacturing sites. Prior to this, Nancy was COO of Final Assembly Line and Deliveries for Learjet, Challenger and Global aircraft programs in production at Bombardier’s facilities in Montreal, Toronto, and Wichita, as well as the business unit’s Procurement function. Nancy Barber joined the company in 1998. She held several key positions with increasing responsibility, including Production, Quality, Customer Delivery Centre, In-Service Supplier Management and Supply Chain. She was also instrumental in the creation of Bombardier’s Women in Leadership conference and is a mentor in the Northern Lights mentorship program.

Jo-Anne Tabobandung

Education Award

Jo-Anne is the Dean of Aviation at the First Nations Technical Institute (FNTI) on the Tyendinaga Mohawk Territory. FNTI delivers the only Indigenous post-secondary Aviation program of its kind in Canada, serving First Nations, Metis and Inuit people from coast-coast-coast. Jo-Anne graduated from the program in 1992, and has flown for the company Charter service and held the position of Chief Flight Instructor for 14 years. As Dean of Aviation she oversees the Flight Training Unit, Academic department, and the Approved Maintenance Organization. A champion of students and the Bear clan of the Mohawk Nation, Jo-Anne ensures a cooperative, inclusive, and culturally relevant class environment and creates learning and employment opportunities by building strong partnerships throughout the aviation industry.

Kathryn Atamanchuk, P.Eng., MBA, PMP, FEC

Engineering Award

After completing a Bachelor of Science in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Manitoba in 1999, Kathryn began her career at StandardAero as a T56 Service Engineer. In her 13 years at StandardAero, Kathryn gained experience in both technical and engineering leadership roles while also completing an MBA. For the last 8 years, Kathryn has been an Engineer-in-Residence and Industry Partnerships Facilitator for the Price Faculty of Engineering at the University of Manitoba. Kathryn is passionate about women in engineering and aerospace. In 2019, Kathryn completed a Master’s of Science in Biosystems Engineering where her research focused on understanding career persistence of women in the engineering workforce.

Stacey Jackson

Flight Operations Award

With over 20 years of experience in the aviation industry, Stacey has done mountainous, glider and medevac flying and captained a Dash-7 for the United Nations in the Middle East and Africa. She received an Honours Diploma in Aviation Flight Technology from Sault College, a Bachelor of Science in Aeronautics, Summa Cum Laude, and a Master of Science in Aeronautics, specializing in human factors and aircraft accident investigation, at Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. Stacey is a member of the International Society of Air Safety Investigators (ISASI) and is a current aircraft accident investigator with the Air Line Pilots Association, representing the WestJet Airlines, where she operates a B737NG. She is the Canadian representative of the International Federation of Airline Pilot’s Association’s Female Pilot’s Working Group, focusing on issues that affect female airline pilots globally.

Lieutenant Colonel Diane Baldasaro

Government Award

A graduate of the Royal Military College of Canada, Diane received her pilot wings and flew the CC-130 Hercules at 435 Squadron in Winnipeg, doing Search and Rescue, Air-to-Air Refueling, and Tactical Airlift. After promotion to Aircraft Commander, she became an Instrument Check Pilot and Squadron Standards Pilot at 436 Squadron in Trenton. Following four deployments to Afghanistan, Diane advanced to Major as Squadron Aircrew Leader, oversaw the delivery of the CC-130J Hercules and initial crew training. Next, Diane was posted to 2 Canadian Forces Flying Training School as Chief Flying Instructor. Returning to Trenton, she completed the Joint Command and Staff College program, then became Deputy 8 Wing Operations Officer. Promoted to her current rank of Lt. Colonel, she was Operational Planning Team Lead for the RCAF Air Test and Evaluation Rebalance. In 2018, she became Commanding Officer of 437 Squadron, responsible for Strategic Air-to-Air Refueling and VVIP Transport for the Government of Canada in the Polaris Airbus aircraft, a highlight of her career.

Honorary Colonel Kendra Kincade

Trailblazer Award

Kendra worked as an Air Traffic Controller for nearly 20 years, until transitioning to her role as NAV Canada’s Employee Brand Specialist. She began her philanthropic journey by climbing Mt. Kilimanjaro to fundraise for the Lois Hole Hospital and then founded the non-profit, Changing Stories, undertaking projects such as building schools and playgrounds in El Salvador and Nicaragua. In 2015, Kendra founded Elevate, a non-profit devoted to helping women realize their potential, where she is currently Chair and Executive Director. Elevate is a support network for women in aviation, with a mentorship and bursary program and the Elevate Aviation Learning Centre that inspires the pursuit of careers in the industry. Kendra is an Honorary Colonel of the RCAF 417 Helicopter Squadron and has received numerous awards and recognition for her work inspiring women across Canada.

Maegan Extross

Rising Star Award

Maegan earned her Glider Pilot’s License and Private Pilot’s Licenses through the Air Cadet program, before graduating as a Warrant Officer Second Class in 2015. She attended the Aviation Safety Advanced Diploma Program at Seneca College, where she became the President of the Seneca Aviation Association in her first year and established a very successful annual networking event that brings together members of the industry and students. Maegan was chosen to be the Valedictorian of her class and graduated with Honours. She completed a co-op term with NAV CANADA, where she was hired full-time after her graduation in 2018. She works as a Research Analyst, providing traffic and safety analysis to support informed decision-making. Maegan also enjoys volunteering with Elevate Aviation and as the Ontario Ambassador works to coordinate events and partnerships.

Kathleen Legge

Rising Star Award

Kathleen received her wings at 17 through the Air Cadet Power Pilot Scholarship and then completed the Integrated Commercial Pilot Course, both at Moncton Flight College. Kathleen then had an exciting season flying skydivers while also working at Skylink Express as a dispatcher. She finally transitioned to a flight -line position, flying cargo on the Cessna Caravan and operating single pilot to many challenging Maritime destinations. Kathleen was later hired as a King Air 200 Captain for Maritime Air Charter, often doing the rewarding flying of organ transfer medevacs. In addition to being Assistant Chief Pilot, Company Aviation Safety Officer, and Marketing Manager, Kathleen is also the Director of Flight Operations. Kathleen also works as a contract captain for NovaJet Aviation Group based in Toronto, flying private & corporate charter on a Gulfstream Astra SP.

2019 Elsie Award Recipients

Capt Mary Cameron-Kelly

Pioneer Award

Capt Mary Cameron-Kelly was born in North Sydney, Nova Scotia. She was a member of 562 Air Cadet Squadron, having always being interested in flying. Mary joined the military in 1981 as an airframe technician. Her first posting was to Greenwood, where she acquired her private pilot license. She became the first female technical instructor in 404 Sqn in 1986. In 1988, she began military pilot training with the Canadian Forces. In 1991, Mary became the first female Aurora pilot in the CF. Three years later, Mary qualified as Aircraft Commander on the Aurora and, in 1995 the world’s first female Maritime Patrol Crew Commander.

Back at 404 Sqn, she became the first female pilot instructor on the Aurora and instructed for the next 5 years. Moving to 405 Sqn in 2001, she assumed new duties in Standards and Training. In May 2003, she flew to the Arabian Gulf and participated in Operation Apollo in the fight against terrorism.

Mary is currently the pilot instructor and a standards and training pilot at 404 Sqn. Her recent accomplishments include over 7200 hrs on the Aurora aircraft, a 2018 recipient of a stamp issued by the Ninety-Nines signifying 37 years of military service, and this year selected as one of the top 20 military women in defense.

Major Alexia Hannam

Flight Operations Award

Major Hannam is a RCAF helicopter pilot and the Commanding Officer of 417 Combat Support Squadron based in Cold Lake, Alberta. She flew the Chinook for 40 combat missions in Afghanistan and was the detachment commander in Operation LENTUS during the Fort McMurray and British Columbia wildfires on Search and Rescue Griffon helicopters. She is a vocal advocate for the Forces and women in aviation.

Kathrine (Kathy) Stewart

Government Award

Kathy is a Regular Member Special Constable helicopter pilot with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police who provides aerial support to front line RCMP members throughout Alberta, Saskatchewan and the Northwest Territories. Based in Edmonton, Kathy flies an Airbus AS350B3 which performs multiple public safety roles including search and rescue, mountain radio repeater access, aerial surveillance, patrols supporting border security along USA-Canada border, as well as pursuits and interceptions. The helicopter also provides tactical support for Emergency Response Teams, Police Dog Services and Explosive Disposal Units in a variety of high-risk situations.

Kathy’s aviation career began in 1980 when she earned her private Fixed Wing license while also pursuing a HBSc at University of Toronto. In 1982, she completed a Commercial Helicopter license. She was hired by Okanagan Helicopters in 1988 and stayed with the company (now Canadian Helicopters) until 2002, obtaining her mountain, night and multi-engine helicopter endorsements. She currently holds a Canadian Private Pilot Fixed Wing license, a Canadian Helicopter Airline Transport license and a U.S. FAA Commercial Helicopter license. Kathy has flown throughout Canada and the U.S. doing forest fire fighting, wildlife management, diamond exploration, seismic exploration, high Arctic work including the Polar Continental Shelf Project and the Canadian military. Kathy supervised up to 80 pilots as an Operations Manager during her last 3 years with Canadian Helicopters.

In 2002, Kathy joined the RCMP Air Services Branch, as a Civilian Member. She obtained her instrument rating in 2005, tactical flight officer training, night vision goggle (NVG) rating in 2009, and advanced NVG rating in 2012. In 2017, Kathy completed conversion training to become a Regular Member. Kathy has over 13,000 flight hours and is endorsed on 8 helicopter types.

Wendy Tayler

Business Award

Wendy Tayler is the President and majority owner of Whitehorse-based Alkan Air Ltd. She is passionate about aviation and the vital part it plays in connecting communities in Northern Canada. She established Northern Canada’s first aviation-business diploma program at Yukon College, where she has introduced northern youth to careers in aviation.

Dr. Suzanne Kearns

Education Award

Dr. Suzanne Kearns is an Associate Professor of Aviation at the University of Waterloo. She began flight training at the age of 15, flew solo on her 16th birthday, and had her private fixed and rotary-wing licenses on her 17th birthday.

She went on to earn her commercial multi-engine instrument pilot licenses (fixed- and rotary-wing), a College Diploma in helicopter flight training from Canadore College, a Bachelor’s degree in Aeronautical Science and a Master’s degree in Human Factors and Systems Engineering both from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. She began working full-time as a professor at the age of 24 and simultaneously began studying for her PhD in Education, which she earned in 2007.

In her role as a professor, Dr. Kearns teaches, conducts research, and writes about aviation safety and training. Dr. Kearns is frequently invited as a speaker at international conferences, has written four books and many academic and industry articles, and is considered a leading academic in her field. Her textbook (published in 2018) is used in universities around the world to teach the next generation about the ‘Fundamentals of International Aviation’.

She also develops e-learning, including a free course on aviation fundamentals distributed by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO).

Considering face-to-face teaching, the impact of her books, and students who complete her online courses, Dr. Kearns supports the education of thousands of aviation learners each year from every global region.

Lyndsey Poynter

Engineering Award

Growing-up in Oakville, Ontario, Lyndsey’s early interest in Space was kindled by trips to the Kennedy Space Centre, encouraging parents and teachers and a summer session at the US Space Academy in Huntsville, Alabama.

Since receiving a degree in Space and Communications Sciences from York University in 2000, Lyndsey Poynter has supported engineering and mission operations of Canada’s robotic systems on the International Space Station – Canadarm2 and Dextre (pictured on the Canadian $5 bill).

Lyndsey was the project engineer for the Robotic Workstation, which provides the crew robotic interface and was the first robotic element to be commissioned on-board the space station. In addition, Lyndsey prepared and tested space hardware for flight at Kennedy Space Center and has worked on a number of on-orbit satellite servicing initiatives.

As the current project engineer for MDA’s engineering support of Canadarm2 and Dextre, she organizes teams in Houston, St Hubert (Quebec) and Brampton (Ontario) to support robotic assembly and maintenance of the ISS and to utilize Dextre as a testbed for future robotic technologies to enable exploration beyond low earth orbit.

Lyndsey is currently a section lead and instructor for training astronauts and flight controllers on the use of Canada’s robotic systems and is the recipient of numerous awards from NASA and the Canadian Space Agency.

Lauren Egglestone

Rising Star

Lauren Egglestone graduated Seneca College’s Bachelor of Flight Technology program in 2013. After graduation, Lauren moved to The Pas, Manitoba to work for Missinippi Airways as Assistant to the Chief Pilot. After a year, Lauren moved to the flight line as Navajo and King Air 200 First Officer on the scheduled flight to Pukatwagan, a community 200km north of The Pas. Lauren also flew the King Air 200 doing medevac throughout Manitoba and Nunavut, before finally becoming Navajo Captain.

Lauren was at Missinippi Airways for 3.5 years, then continued her career at Canadian North in March of 2017. Initially she flew the Dash 8-100 as First Officer flying out of Yellowknife and Iqaluit to the communities in the Canadian Arctic. In January 2018, she transitioned to the 737-300 based in Calgary, flying to the oil sands, and also charters throughout North America.

At the end of 2018 Lauren’s lifelong dream to a pilot with Air Canada came true! Lauren now lives in Calgary and is currently a First Officer on the 737 MAX.

Dr. Joelle Thorgrimson

Rising Star

Dr. Joelle Thorgrimson is a private pilot, physician, physicist, and future flight surgeon from Kenora Ontario. Joelle started her career in the basic sciences with a BScH in astrophysics from Queen’s University, followed by a MSc in quantum computing from McGill University and the National Research Council of Canada. She pivoted her career and studied medicine at the Northern Ontario School of Medicine (NOSM) where she received a MD and the overall award of excellence in her graduating class.

Her lifelong dream of becoming a pilot was achieved by completing her recreational pilot license after graduating medical school. Joelle proceeded to join the Royal Canadian Air Force during her family medicine residency at NOSM. As elected chief resident, she upgraded to a private pilot license.

In June 2019, Joelle will graduate from her family medicine residency and has been posted to Cold Lake Alberta where she will complete her flight surgeon training and work as a medical officer with the goal of pursuing aerospace medicine.

Her current research interests involve a NASA funded research collaboration with NOSM, McMaster and Harvard Universities on non-technical skills for medical emergencies on long duration exploration missions, which Joelle presented at the International Aeronautical Congress in Germany and the Aerospace Medicine Association annual meeting in the United States. Mentorship has shaped her career, so she gives back to youth interested in pursuing science, medicine and aviation.

For fun, Joelle enjoys flying adventures to Northern Canada, fishing on Lake of the Woods with her family, weight lifting and exploring anything outdoors.

2018 Elsie Award Recipients

Major (retired) Micky Colton

Pioneer Award

Major Micky Colton joined Canadian Forces as a pilot March 1980 and graduated with wings in 1982. She was posted on the C130 Hercules at the following Squadrons; 436 Sqn Trenton, 429 Sqn Winnipeg, 435 Sqn Edmonton, 424 Sqn Trenton (twice), 426 Sqn Trenton (twice). Was Air Transport Operations Duty Officer (dispatch job), Wing Flight Safety Officer-Trenton and C130 Standards and Evaluation officer at Transport and Rescue Evaluation Team (TRSET) Trenton-twice. Micky accumulated about 6900 hours on the C130 before retiring. Retired from the Regular force in October 2011 and joined the Air Force Reserves the next day. She just retired 30th May as a Reservist Duty Operations Officer for 424 Transport and Rescue Squadron- Trenton. Micky went to St. Lawrence College in 2013 and took the Veterinary Assistant certificate program. She blazed a trail for women in the Canadian military!

Julie Beverstein

Flight Operations Award

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. As the Assistant Chief Pilot, Recruitment and Retention, Julie is an active line pilot and Training Captain. She leads the pilot hiring and all pilot recruitment initiatives at Porter some of which included airline open houses, the Porter Airlines Early Connection program, destination porter, a partnership with 13 fight colleges coast to coast as well as the Porter Star Award. Julie is one of the leads in Women Soar at Porter, an internal group focused on bridging the gender gap at Porter and more specifically the flight deck. She also sits on the board of the Northern Lights Aero Foundation and is actively involved with the ATAC Fly Canada project.

Emily Crombez

Government Award

Emily Crombez has accomplished a great deal in the first ten years of her aviation career, including being the first female to crew the Bombardier CL-415 waterbomber for the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry. Emily steps up to face challenges head on and inspire those around her. Growing up working on a family ginseng farm, and neighboring tobacco farms to fund her pilot license, Emily completed her training and had to wait until her 17th birthday to receive her Private Pilot License. Emily graduated from Confederation College Aviation Flight Management program as Class Valedictorian and Female Athlete of the Year. Following graduation, she flew as a bush pilot in North Eastern Ontario, including three seasons flying the iconic deHavilland beaver on floats. In 2011 Emily established and for the past six years chaired the Sleeping Giant Chapter of the 99s. The following year, Emily was hired by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry as a Twin Otter Captain and was selected to take part in unique operations such as aerial rabies vaccinating and a polar bear survey. Emily was the recipient of the prestigious Vicki Cruse Emergency Maneuver Training Scholarship in 2013, where she completed an aerobatic and emergency maneuver course. In 2014 Emily was the first female type rated on the CL-415 waterbomber in North America; she crewed the waterbomber for three seasons. Currently, Emily is flying the Boeing 737 for WestJet Airlines. Emily continues to give back to the aviation community through various roles as a Confederation College Advisory board member and reunion planning committee member; 99s Scholarship Chair, Session Launch Coordinator, and mentor for the Professional Pilot Leadership Initiative. On her days off, Emily dedicates her time to sports, the family farm, travelling, and spending time at the cottage with her partner Nate.

Julie Mailhot

Business Award

Julie Mailhot started with Air Canada in 1987 as a Customer Service Agent and has progressed up the organizational ladder. She was the first female Flight Dispatcher and eventually became the Chief of Operations, managing a group of 80 flight Dispatchers. She has been promoted many times throughout her career and is currently the Chief Operating Officer at Air Canada Express/Air Georgian. She has served many other organizations in various positions and has received the Art of Excellence Award from Air Canada. She is also president of the Dreams Take Flight Toronto Chapter and has been involved with the charity for the last 21 years.

Dr. Alexandra Kindrat

Education Award

Dr. Alexandra Kindrat is an educator and research scientist from Montreal. She performs research on mathematics instruction, as well as research related to micro-gravity at NASA’s Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas, and on the International Space Station. She is a private airplane pilot, and a long-time member of the Montreal chapter of the Ninety-Nines. She holds degrees from McGill University (Montreal), the International Space University (France), and Concordia University (Montreal). Along with her teaching duties in Montreal, Dr. Kindrat has been a member of the teaching faculty at NASA’s High School Aerospace Scholar Program at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Texas. Moreover, she has also has served as co-chair at the International Astronautical Congress in the Human Space Endeavours Virtual Forum held in Naples, Italy, and in Cape Town, South Africa. Additionally, Alexandra has provided input as an educational consultant for the Space Advisory Board roundtable on Canada’s future in space at the Canadian Space Agency. Alexandra encourages her students to pursue studies leading to careers in STEM, and continues to inspire her students to reach for the stars through sharing with them her own endeavours in aviation and aerospace.

Niloofar Moradi

Engineering Award

Niloofar Moradi earned her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Concordia University in 2010 and launched her career at Rolls Royce Canada in the energy sector. Drawn to aviation and aerospace, Niloofar later joined Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) as an aerodynamicist, where she was involved in all aspects of turbine aerodynamics – from research and airfoil design to engine development & production support. In 2016, concurrent with her design work at P&WC, Niloofar earned her Master’s degree from École de Technologie Supérieure as a significant player in the creation of a multi-disciplinary design optimization system. She was responsible for creating a rapid three-dimensional airfoil generator program that is now an integral part of this overall design system. Passionate and ambitious, Niloofar has done design work for several P&WC engines including the PT6C-67A, powering the AW609 Tiltrotor. She currently works in the Turbine Mechanical Design department, where she designs and integrates turbine components. Niloofar’s dedication to encouraging and creating new opportunities for the next generation of engineers keeps her ever engaged with the engineering community. She is a member of the Industrial Advisory Board of the MIA Engineering department of Concordia University and the Aerospace sub-committee of the Palais des Congrès de Montréal. Through her involvement with Women Leadership Committee of P&WC, she continues to work with charitable organizations such as Dress for Success, L’envol and Operation Christmas Child. In addition to her work and volunteer activities, Niloofar is an avid traveler and a passionate scuba diver.

Larissa Chiu

Rising Star

Larissa Chiu received her Private Pilot’s License through the Air Cadet Program in 2016 and now volunteers her time flying in her squadron’s familiarization program for young cadets. Larissa is currently attending the University of British Columbia in the Bachelor of Science program and is on the Executive of UBC’s Aviation Club. She is working on her night rating and Commercial Pilot’s license. She has received many awards along the way for such a young person including numerous Top Cadet awards, a Royal Conservatory of Music Scholarship, and Duke of Edinburgh Gold Medal Award. She volunteers for Girls Fly Too events, is a mentor at her high school, and also volunteers as a STEM Ambassador for Science Expo. Last year she entered into a partnership with Hamilton Watch Company who generously supports her flight training by donating $1,000 through her flight school in exchange for Larissa to fly Hamilton’s top employees!

Katie Gwozdecky

Rising Star

Katie Gwozdecky is a private pilot and graduate of the University of Toronto in Mechanical Engineering. During her time in school she fiercely pursued her passion for space exploration, and joined the University of Toronto Aerospace Team UTAT. With UTAT, she built sounding rockets, designed and manufactured components for small satellites, among many other technical endeavors. Her major contribution to the team was leading UTAT as Director of Space Systems to pass a student levy, raising nearly half a million dollars to fund the launch of the first amateur satellite from U of T, HERON MKII, in 2019. This levy is the first of its kind in Canada enabling high volume fundraising for student teams. She leaves UTAT with a legacy of dedication, perseverance and teamwork. Her passion for space engineering has led her to pursue her MASc at the Space Flight Lab at the University of Toronto in September.

2017 Elsie Award Recipients

Heather Bell

Business Award

Heather has recently retired from the position of General Manager of the Vancouver Flight Information Region (NavCanada). During her 33-year career in Air Navigation Services, Heather worked as a VFR Controller in several towers in British Columbia as well as an IFR controller in various specialties in the Area Control Center. Heather became the Manager of the Vancouver Area Control Center and then the General Manager where, before retirement, she was responsible for over 500 employees working across BC providing Air Traffic Control, Flight Information and Administrative support. During her time at NavCanada Heather was honoured to receive both the Chairman’s and President’s awards as well as being chosen Surrey Business Woman of the year in 2011.

Heather attended Simon Fraser University, is a graduate of the Directors College through McMaster University and has over 34 years of experience in the Aviation Industry. Heather is the Board Chair of the British Columbia Aviation Council and also sits on the board of the Aviation Leadership Foundation where she is Chair of the Leadership Learning Series.

Since retirement Heather’s consultation opportunities have included working with MDA corporation, a global communications and information company where she assisted on international procurement contracts, and the Vancouver Airport Authourity where she supported the development of the current YVR Master Plan. Heather is currently consulting for the Greater Toronto Airport Authority and is excited to be involved in the formation of a new company, Iskwew Air. Iskwew Air is a 100% Indigenous woman owned company connecting travelers from Vancouver into BC communities. Iskwew is focused on inspiring and supporting Indigenous tourism as well as offering Indigenized passenger and charter air service.

Heather lives in Richmond with her husband of 32 years, has two wonderful grown children, enjoys golf and loves to travel the world.

Heather McGonigal

Flight Operations Award

Heather McGonigal is Transwest Air’s Director of Flight Operations, a Training Captain and a Saab 340 line pilot. A Director for four years at the Air Transportation Association of Canada, she became Chair last year. Currently she is working at Keewatin Air as their DFO.

Colonel Helen Wright, CD, MD, MSc, MPH, CCFP, ABPM(AM)

Government Award

Col Wright is a physician in the Royal Canadian Air Force with training in Family Medicine, Aerospace Medicine, Public Health and Flight Safety. She started her career as an aerospace physiologist working extensively in aviation human factors and flight safety, and among other projects such as aircraft emergency survival kits, she did a Master’s degree studying G forces in the CF18. Col Wright then re-trained as a physician and further pursued her keen interest in supporting aviation operations with a second residency in Aerospace Medicine with the US Navy. Col Wright relished her time as 1 Canadian Air Division Surgeon where she administered the Canadian Armed Forces medical standards for aircrew and aeromedical evacuation.

Col Wright’s deployments include Pakistan on a humanitarian mission, Afghanistan at a multinational field hospital, and a year in Iraq working with the Iraq military and police to improve their medical systems.

Joan Williams

Education Award

Joan Williams had more than 30 years in commercial aviation and flight training. She was the Flight Training Manager for Toronto Airways Ltd. for 10 years and then became the Director of Business Development. She was a long-time member and Director of the Air Transportation Association of Canada and recently received their Lifetime Achievement Award. Joan was a mentor and role model for many career pilots flying today.

We are saddened to announce Joan’s passing, earlier in July, after a courageous battle with cancer.

Catherine Tsouvaltsidis

Engineering Award

Catherine is currently working in Infrastructure Technology Solutions (ITS) at TDBank. She is fortunate to be able to participate in four rotations within ITS aimed to develop and broaden her skillsets and career-pathways. While at TD, Catherine has worked on a variety of projects, including coordinating the migration of the infrastructure systems between datacenters, leading a proof-of-concept 6-month sprint to showcase the abilities of Machine Learning and Chatbots within the enterprise, and now to leading a team of 12 to develop innovative solutions for the new enterprise platform, including systems that use Machine Learning and Artificial Intelligence to augment and enhance the employee experience.

Previous to TD, Catherine spent six years working in the Canadian Space Sector. There she worked on a variety of different projects including the refurbishment and upgrading of a 46m radio-astronomy dish; design, development and integration of a satellite tracking and monitoring platform; design, development and calibration of a micro-spectrometer aimed to measure soil moisture content from space to be used in large scale soil analysis and farming applications; and the design and development of a UV gas camera used to monitor SO2 volcanic emissions.

When Catherine is not working, she loves to spend time with her partner and their young son. She is an avid gardener and space-enthusiast.

Major (retired) Deanna Brasseur, O.C.

Pioneer Award

Major (ret’d) Dee Brasseur was one of the first two female fighter pilots in Canada, flying the F18 Hornet. She retired from the RCAF in 1994 with 21 years of distinguished service and 2500 hours of flying jets. Outside of aviation, she contributes towards Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) rehabilitation through her One-in-a-Million project via Supersonix Unlimited Incorporated.

Candace McKibbon

Rising Star

Candace McKibbon is a Terminal Duty Officer with the Vancouver Airport Authority and a former Operations Agent for Marquis Customer Service at YVR. In addition, she is the Executive Director of the BC Aviation Council where she is active promoting aviation throughout the province.

Jessalyn Teed

Rising Star

Jessalyn Teed is a student at the University of Waterloo (UW) enrolled in the Environmental Studies and Aviation program. In partnership with the UW program, she does her flight training at Waterloo Wellington Flight Centre (WWFC). Jessalyn is extremely dedicated to her studies and will complete her four-year degree in three years as of August 2017.

At UW and WWFC, Jessalyn has taken on a Human Factors Thesis in Aviation studying the Best Practice for Millennials in the Classroom, which targets the aviation industry as the demand for pilots increases and the practices evolve.

Jessalyn will also complete her aviation training, particularly her Commercial Pilots License with a Group 1 Multi-IFR Rating. She is an outstanding leader in and outside the classroom, as demonstrated by her initiation and coordination of a team of students to provide peer help in the aviation classes, as well as working at WWFC as a dispatcher and volunteering for events and initiatives at WWFC, such as a Girls Can Fly, WWFC Golf Tournament and the 2017 Canadian Women in Aviation Conference in Calgary.

2016 Elsie Award Recipients

Rosella Bjornson

Pioneer Award

Rosella Bjornson was the foremost first officer on a jet and is a trailblazer for women in aviation. She received her pilot’s licence at 17 and earned her commercial and instructor rating while attending the University of Calgary. She became the first female first officer when she was hired by Transair in 1973, and the first jet qualified female airline pilot in North America. She was also the first woman member of the Canadian Airlines Pilots Association. She was grounded in 1979 due to her first pregnancy, and worked with Transport Canada after her second pregnancy in 1984 to help create new policy for this vital issue. Due to her efforts, female pilots were able to fly for the first 6 months during pregnancy, a major milestone for women in aviation. In 1990 she became the first female captain with a major airline in Canada (Canadian). She was inducted into Canada’s Aviation Hall of Fame in 1997.

Jolene Mahody

Business Award

Jolene Mahody, EVP and CFO for Chorus Aviation is a Chartered Accountant and has received her Fellow of Chartered Accountant designation, which is awarded for outstanding career and community achievements. She joined Air Nova in 1992 and has had an impressive and varied career track that has seen her take on increasingly senior roles. Jolene played a key role in the merger of four regional airlines into what eventually became Jazz Aviation LP, a successful IPO in 2006 and the evolution of Chorus.

Dr. Catherine Mavriplis

Education Award

Dr. Catherine Mavriplis, completed a Masters and a PhD in Aeronautics at Massachusetts Institute of Technology before pursuing postdoctoral studies in computational mathematics and aerospace engineering at Princeton. She is a licenced professional engineer in the state of Virginia and Ontario. She has been a member of the faculty at the University of Ottawa since 2008. In 2011, she was selected as the NSERC/Pratt and Whitney Canada Chair for Women in Science and Engineering, the first woman from aviation and aerospace to be selected as one of the national champions for women in science and aerospace and continues to work as an advocate for advancing women in aerospace.

Brigadier General Lise Bourgon

Flight Ops/Maintenance Award

Brigadier General Lise Bourgon is a highly respected maritime helicopter pilot with over 2200 hours flying the Sea King. She has been a pioneer of gender integration and her career includes numerous milestones: she was the first female LtCol pilot commanding officer of an operational squadron, first female colonel wing commander, and the first female commander of joint task force- Iraq in Kuwait commanding over 600 CAF personnel. She has twice been the Canadian representative for the Women in NATO Working Group. She has worked on issues affecting women in the CAF and wrote her staff college thesis on retention and work-life balance. She has multiple degrees, the latest a Master of Public Administration.

Dr. Sylvie Beland

Government Award

Dr. Sylvie Béland, internationally recognized aerospace and space scientist whose work has contributed to new technologies to the Canadarm2 and the International Space Station. She is the first woman aerospace R&D director at the National Research Council in charge of the largest laboratory in the country with a staff of 100. She has held a number of senior positions at the Canadian Space Agency and served a five-year term as Counselor on Space and Commercial Affairs at the Canadian Embassy in Paris. She also acted as a Permanent Delegate of Canada to the European Space Agency. She is now the NRC co-champion on the National Women In Science and Technology Committee. She has written many papers and a book on high performance resins and their composites, and has received many awards including the Queen Elizabeth II Golden Jubilee.

Holly Johnson

Rising Star

Holly Johnson has a Bachelor of Applied Science in mechanical engineering from the University of Toronto. She joined MDA as a student and has worked on the Canadarm program including performing the pre-mission simulation of the Canadarm robotic operations with the International Space Station. She was the lead systems engineer on the neurosurgical medical robotic (neuroarm2) transferring the technology of space to provide hands-free surgical imaging. She is also a Private Pilot.

Navreet Saini

Rising Star

Navreet Saini graduated from Ryerson University’s aerospace engineering program in 2012 while completing three consecutive internships with Bombardier Aerospace. Upon graduation she accepted an avionics engineering position with Bell Helicopter and has since transferred to the flight test and experimental department. During her undergrad she worked on the ramp at the Brampton Flight Center where she also obtained her private pilot’s licence and night rating. She aspires to work in the human factors and aviation safety sector.

2015 Elsie Award Recipients

Tracy Medve

Business Award

In May, 2013 Tracy Medve was appointed as the President of KF Aerospace, a multi-faceted maintenance, cargo, military flight training and aircraft leasing organization headquartered in Kelowna, B.C. She was formerly President of Canadian North Airlines from 2007 to 2012.

Since 1985 Tracy has held various senior airline management positions at Norcanair, Time Air, Canadian Partner and Canadian Regional Airlines. Prior to joining Canadian North in 2007 Tracy was the co-founder of C.T. AeroProjects, a Calgary based consultancy focused on air transport resource management, working with a wide range of public and private aviation clients around the world.

Tracy is a lawyer by training (University of Saskatchewan, 1982) and in 2009 graduated from the John Molson School of Business Global Aviation MBA program at Concordia University. She is the 2007 recipient of the John Molson School of Business MBA Scholarship and was inducted as a member of the Beta Gamma Sigma honor society in 2009. Tracy is the Chairman of the Air Transportation Association of Canada and the first woman in Canada to be inducted as an Honorary Life Member of ATAC. She sits as a member of the University of British Columbia, Okanagan External Advisory Board. She is also a current member of the Transportation Appeal Tribunal of Canada and was recently appointed as a member of the CADSI Board of Directors.

Judy Cameron

Flight Operations / Maintenance Award

Judy Cameron became the first female pilot hired by Air Canada, Canada’s largest airline, on April 10 1978 at the age of 23. She was the first woman to graduate from Selkirk College’s Aviation Technology Program in 1975.

Prior to airline flying, Judy flew smaller aircraft in Slave Lake and Edmonton, Alberta, and Inuvik, N.W.T. 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. Her destinations have ranged from Santiago, Chile to Sydney, Australia, Shanghai, China, Hong Kong, Tel Aviv, Israel and many cities in Europe, including Paris, London and Rome. She has also landed at every major airport in Canada and many in the United States. Her most memorable flight was in 1997, when she was promoted to DC-9 Captain.Judy was the first female captain of a wide-body aircraft at Air Canada in 2006 (the Boeing 767), and in 2010, became the first female Boeing 777 captain in Canada. On May 24, 2015, with much fanfare waiting, Judy make her final flight from Munich back to Toronto Pearson Airport, retiring after 37 years. She has volunteered with “Dreams Take Flight” and “Wings of Courage” and coordinated the silent auction for Canadian Women in Aviation. For inspiration, she looks to the strong role model of her single mother, who brought her up to believe she could be anything she wished to be and who always encouraged her. Judy has two grown daughters, Carolyn and Kristy that she also raised as a single mother. She lives in Oakville, Ontario with her husband, Ron, a retired Air Canada pilot. Judy is an avid skier, likes hiking, golfing, photography, SCUBA diving and riding her red 750 Honda motorcycle.

Andreena Clifford

Government Award

Andreena Clifford joined the Royal Canadian Air Force in 2000 as an Aerospace Control Operator (AC Op) and to this day has been defending the sovereignty of Canadian Airspace. A veteran of the aerial campaign over Afghanistan flying aboard the Airborne Warning and Control Systems aircraft (AWACS), as well as providing the tactical air picture for Operation Impact and numerous other domestic operations. Sgt Clifford has excelled in the field of air defense and is considered a leader in the highly technical field of tactical data link. Her skills directly enable decision makers, at the highest level, to make effective, informed, real time decisions.

When not defending the interests of Canada at home or abroad Andreena volunteers her time to numerous community groups and charities including sitting on the board of directors for the Canadian Forces Museum of Aerospace Defense, local youth sports, organizing fundraisers for Relay for Life and editor-in-chief of The Shield, the 22 Wing newspaper.

A devoted wife and mother of four children, Andreena is an outstanding ambassador for women in aviation and an inspirational RCAF leader.

Jill Oakes

Education Award

At the University of Manitoba, Dr. Oakes studies the relationships between people and the environment, and teaches aviation geography. She has more than 100 publications, and is currently working on an exhibition of circumpolar footwear for the Bata Shoe Museum in Toronto. Promoting, educating and inspiring women into aviation-related activities is Jill’s primary passion, with support from the academic and aviation community. Two years ago, Jill facilitated the donation of Cessna 150, C-FLUG to the 99’s, making it more financially feasible for women pilots to time-build toward their commercial license. She manages the club plane along with a team of volunteers, including an AME, and airline pilots committed to increasing the number of women in the industry.

Jill also regularly organizes events inviting women to go flying and attend classes, preparing them to write their pilot learner permit exams, for free; making them eligible for flight training scholarships. To support women aviators at all levels, Jill is instrumental in establishing numerous Manitoba 99s Scholarships, including the Club Plane, Ground School, and Broadening Horizons Scholarships. This year these scholarships were presented to 17 women pilots, from beginners starting ground school to women preparing to be hired by the airlines.

Dawn Bartsch

Pioneer Award

Dawn, as a very young girl had only one goal in mind and that was to be a pilot. Ten months after beginning training under the watchful eye of Vancouver U-fly’s Michaud brothers, Dawn received her commercial license endorsed for night flying, instrument flying, sea planes and instructors rating, all in 10 months after her first hour of instruction.

A pilot interview with Canadian Pacific ended with an offer of a stewardess position. Each step of her flying career was met with resistance in the male dominated industry. Instructing was the only avenue open to her and even then, not without strife. Jobs were offered at half the rate paid to male pilots until she proved herself, an insurance company initially refused to ensure the aircraft she would be flying, backing down only under pressure from her employer.

Flying Cessna 180’s and Beavers out of Dawson City, Yukon in the 1950’s and 60’s established her reputation as a competent “Bush Pilot” and those who flew with her became strong supporters. Serving the native village of Old Crow, above the Arctic circle in the 1950’s quickly established Dawn as their favorite pilot as they watched, to their surprise, a girl pilot arrives with their mail and groceries. For over 10 years, Dawn flew Cessna 180’s, Beaversand DC3’s, landing on winter ice strips and summer sandbars until the Old Crow airport was completed in 1972.

In 1992 flying a Cessna 421, Dawn, as pilot in command, flew the the length of Russia on her first around the world trip. That was followed in 1994 with another around the world ICAO sponsored trip from Montreal – Vietnam – Montreal. Around South America in 1996 and the 1997 World Air Games long distance race from London to Turkey in which we won a Bronze medal. The 2001 London to Sydney event, then crossing the Pacific to Hawaii and home.

One bent nose wheel in 13,000 hours is a record to be proud of. Well done.

Claire Lemiski

Rising Star

Claire Lemiski lives and breathes aviation. After completing her Private Pilot License in High School in Ontario, she moved to British Columbia to continue flight training and pursue a degree in Geography at Trinity Western University. She now holds a Commercial Pilot License with multi-engine and instrument ratings.

Claire took summer jobs as a ramp attendant, dispatcher and skydive pilot. Then in 2007 she was a summer student in Bombardier’s Q Series Flight Test department in Toronto. This led to a permanent position: first as a participant in the Graduate Development Program, and subsequently as a Flight Test Engineer, conducting tests for new part functionality, electromagnetic compatibility, engineering investigations, product enhancement, and performance. Keen to move from the jumpseat to the pilot’s seat, Claire earned her Dash 8 Q400 type endorsement in 2012 and now flies Bombardier’s corporate shuttle between Montreal and Toronto.

Claire’s involvement in aviation doesn’t stop when she leaves work. In Toronto, she was an active member of the First Canadian Chapter of the Ninety-Nines and Women in Aviation’s Upper Canada Chapter: participating in local outreach events and as a speaker at the 2013 biennial Canadian conference. She is also a check pilot for the deHavilland Employee Flying Club at Downsview. Now living in Montreal, she is in a leadership role with the Montreal Ninety-Nines and is a mentor for one of the chapter’s student pilots.

Erin Grant

Rising Star

From an early age, Erin knew she wanted to be an airline pilot. She joined the Royal Canadian Air Cadet program as soon as she could and earned her glider and private pilot licenses. Soon after, she became a glider instructor and taught seven other cadets like her. As a Lieutenant in the Royal Canadian Air Force Reserve, she is a glider pilot and one of the youngest female two plane pilots in the program. Erin continued her pilot studies at Seneca College, hoping to become a professional pilot. She graduated as valedictorian from the Faculty of Technology in 2013 and received the Seneca Cup, Seneca College’s ultimate honor.

Upon graduation, she immediately joined the flight faculty as a Class 4 instructor, and taught students at Seneca College for a year. As a participant in Seneca College’s La Passerelle Jazz Seneca program, Erin landed a position with Jazz in early 2014 and flew the Dash-8 from its Calgary base. Since joining Jazz, she has acted as a mentor to future cadets; she is trying to get the ERM trainer position and should get her airline pilot license by the end of the summer. Erin aspires to be a Boeing 777 captain at Air Canada.

Erin Grant - Rising Star

2014 Elise Award Recipients

Eva Martinez

Business Award

Eva Martinez is a graduate of both the Royal Military College of Canada and the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering; she holds a Bachelor of Engineering degree in Engineering Management with a specialty in Aerospace. Eva served in Royal Canadian Air Force from 1989 to 2002 as an Aeronautical Engineer, retiring at the rank of Major.

During her military career, Eva helped the Chilean Air Force and the Guatemalan Army with the integration of women into their respective militaries. Most notably, Eva participated in the United Nations Mission to Guatemala (MINUGUA) as Canada’s first female military observer as part of an international contingent responsible for overseeing a ceasefire following the end of a 36-year old civil war.

Eva is currently a Director at UTC Aerospace Systems Landing Systems. She participates on several Boards including Women in Aerospace Canada, the Air Cadet League of Canada (Ontario Provincial Committee), and the Spanish Speaking Education Network.

Eva lives in Oakville, Ontario, with her husband, Bill Foster, and their three children – Emi (9), Ken (4), and Willa (3).

Nachelle White

Flight Operations/Maintenance Award

Nachelle White has had a unique 15-year career in aviation. Instructing, flying cargo, Northern Canada flying forest fire suppression support and as a Dash 8 pilot flying in Africa and Asia for a humanitarian organization and transitioning back to Canada.

On a personal note Nachelle loves travelling and is currently at 54 Countries and counting. She has played with baby tigers in Thailand, watched the sunrise on a volcano in DRCongo, made it to Mt Kilimanjaro base camp and trekked the Inca trail to Machu Picchu. She is truly honoured to win this award!

Sandra McDonald

Government Award

Sandra McDonald had a successful, 20-year career with the Canadian Armed Forces including being the first woman Avionics Technician on the Aurora and the youngest Air Force member promoted to the rank of Master Warrant Officer in peace time from which she retired in 1999.

Since retirement, Sandra has remained a force to be reckoned with. She has continued her involvement with the CP140 Aurora fleet – as avionics engineering support staff, a contractor with Maritime Proving and Evaluation Unit (MP&EU) and then subsequently trained as a suitability coordinator at the US Air Force Operational Test and Evaluation Center in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

As a community leader, Sandra has served on multiple town council economic development committees in Kentville, Nova Scotia. Currently, she is the President of the Valley Regional Hospital Foundation, and is involved in an $ 8-million campaign to build a new hospice and revitalize the hospital.

Lynne McMullen

Education Award

Lynne McMullen is Chair of the School of Aviation at Seneca College in Toronto and Peterborough. Within this portfolio she oversees Diploma programs in Aviation Operations and Aviation Safety, the Bachelor of Aviation Technology (BAT) and a Graduate Certificate in Airline Pilot Flight Operations. Lynne was instrumental in developing and establishing a unique partnership program with the Canadian Department of National Defence in which select, qualified Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) pilot candidates complete the BAT simultaneously earning their RCAF wings.

She is directly involved with student recruitment and industry relations which includes developing employment opportunities and internships. Lynne worked closely with Jazz Aviation to develop a direct entry cadet program for BAT graduates. She graduated social sciences at Western University in London Ontario and holds an ATPL and Class I flight instructor rating. Lynne has instructed and tested in the classroom and cockpit for over 18 years.

She is President of Collegiate Aviation Canada, Vice Chair of the AABI board of trustees, member of the Air Transport Association of Canada (ATAC) and UAA, serving on various committees with each. Lynne has presented at the ATAC AGM and spring conferences, WATs, AABI and UAA.

Roberta L Bondar O.C., O. of Ont., MD, PhD

Pioneer Award

The world’s first neurologist in space and Canada’s first woman astronaut, Dr. Roberta Bondar conducted scientific experiments for 13 countries in the First International Microgravity Laboratory on the space shuttle Discovery mission in 1992.

After her spaceflight, Dr. Bondar headed an international space medicine research team working with NASA for more than a decade, continuing to find new connections between astronauts recovering from the microgravity of space and neurological illnesses here on Earth.

Influenced by the view of the world from space, Dr. Bondar photographed all of Canada’s National Parks between 1998 and 2000 which resulted in the best-selling books: Passionate Vision – Discovering Canada’s National Parks and Canada – Landscape of Dreams.

Dr. Bondar is an Officer of the Order of Canada, appointed to the Order of Ontario and is a Laureate of the Canadian Medical Hall of Fame. She has received 24 honorary doctorate degrees from North American universities and is featured on the 2003 Canada Post Roberta Bondar astronaut stamp.

A respected advisor to industry and government she continues to speak to medical, scientific, corporate and environmental organizations about change, social responsibility and our environment.

She sits on the Governing Council of icipe a pan-African institute researching the effects of climate change on insect borne diseases which cause malaria and Dengue fever.

She is Co-Founder of The Roberta Bondar Foundation, formed to educate and improve knowledge of the environment. The Foundation inspires people to see their environment in a positive light, to become more attuned to its characteristics and factors that influence change and for some, to encourage them to seek a career in any of the sciences.

The Foundation’s travelling exhibition Biodiversity and Extinction: “Within the Landscape – Art Respecting Life” opened at the Telus Spark Science Centre in Calgary. It includes Roberta Bondar’s 51 photographic pieces that explore the biomes of our natural environment in Canada’s National Parks, the Masai Mara National Reserve of Kenya, the Bosque Del Apache National Wildlife Refuge in the USA and the Sahara Desert. It will be at the Science Centre until June 15th.

Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail

Rising Star

Danielle Metcalfe-Chenail is a writer, historian and speaker who specializes in telling hidden stories connected to Canada’s past online, in print, and through presentations. She is the author of For the Love of Flying: The Story of Laurentian Air Services (2009) and the forthcoming Polar Winds: A Century of Flying the North (2014). She was the first female president of the Canadian Aviation Historical Society in its fifty-year history, and was named Chatelaine’s Maverick of the Year as well as to Avenue’s Top 40 Under 40 list for her work. She lives in Edmonton, Alberta with her husband, son, and pets and is serving as the city’s Historian Laureate until 2016.

2013 Elsie Award Recipients

Marcia Strang

Business Award

Marcia Strang works in Airport Operations for the Vancouver Airport Authority. In her capacity as Coordinator of Emergency Programs, she runs full-scale training exercises in emergency response and Incident Command Systems (ICS) for Vancouver International Airport (YVR) staff and response agencies. Marcia was instrumental in preparing YVR for the Vancouver Olympics in 2010 where she held an additional post as the Olympic Airside Coordinator. Most recently, Marcia organized and ran the largest multi-agency exercise in the history of YVR, involving over 700 people. Before joining YVR, Marcia worked at Transport Canada’s Pacific Region office where her roles included Airport Manager at the Pitt Meadows and Castlegar airports, and prior to that Marcia was Airport Manager at Boundary Bay Airport for two years.

Marcia’s love of aviation started when she learned to fly glider and powered aircraft as a teenager in the Royal Canadian Air Cadet program. She went on to instruct on gliders and teaching ground school, spent many enjoyable years towing gliders in the venerable L-19 taildragger aircraft, and eventually earned her Commercial Pilot’s Licence and became Commanding Officer of an Air Cadet Squadron.

Described by her peers as spirited, determined, and the person ‘who gets the job done,’ Marcia has been an active member of several aviation associations over the years including the International Women Pilot’s Organization the 99’s where she become Chapter Treasurer & Chapter Chairman of the BC Coast Chapter, and eventually West Canada Section Governor for four years. She was also instrumental in organizing the Vancouver Chapter of Women in Aviation in 1997, the first in Canada, and she held the post of the Chapter President until 2005. Marcia now serves as Co-Chair of the Aviation Leadership Forum Organizing Committee, an annual event dedicated to bringing passionate speakers together to inspire possibility and positive change in aviation safety.

Marcia has motivated and touched the lives of many people in the Vancouver area and across the country. Her journey has been rich with leadership, mentorship, and above all friendship. She and her husband Gavin (a YVR air traffic controller) live in sunny Tsawwassen, B.C., happily flying their 1946 Fleet Canuck on a regular basis.

Lieutenant Colonel Maryse Carmichael

Flight Operations / Maintenance Award

From her early beginnings in the Air Cadets, to now commanding the Canadian Forces’ elite 431 Air Demonstration Squadron, the Snowbirds, Lt.-Col. Maryse Carmichael has always operated with the same philosophy – work hard and follow your passions. The first woman selected to fly with the Snowbirds in 2000, and then a decade later the first woman chosen to lead the squadron, it is clear the two-time history maker has the right stuff!

Lieutenant-Colonel Carmichael was born in Québec City, Québec in 1971. She began her career in aviation as an Air cadet from 1984 to 1988 as a member of 630 Squadron, in Beauport, Québec. Enrolled in the Canadian Forces in 1990, Carmichael received her Wings at 15 Wing Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan on completion of pilot training in January 1994. Having now logged more than 3300 hours with the Canadian Forces, Carmichael’s past roles include instructing student pilots in Moose Jaw, Sask. in the early nineties, flying the Bombardier-Canadair Challenger for the 434 Squadron based in Greenwood, Nova Scotia, transporting VIPs while on the Challenger in Ottawa, serving as Deputy Wing Operations Officer at 3 Wing Bagotville, Que., and flying the CC-130 Hercules with 436 Transport Squadron at 8 Wing Trenton.

During the summer months, Carmichael leads 22 people that travel across North America presenting their air display to millions of spectators, as well as more than 60 people that remain at their home base in Moose Jaw, Saskatchewan that support, maintain and train at home during the summer months. Lt.-Col Carmichael is married to another Commanding Officer, Lt.-Col Greenough who commands the 2 Canadian Forces Flight Training Squadron.

In 2005, the Women’s Executive Network named Carmichael as one of the Top 100 Most Powerful Women in Canada. Carmichael’s philosophy of pursuing excellence, following your passion and never stop learning continues to inspire a generation of young women.

Catherine Fletcher

Government Award

Catherine (Kate) Fletcher is Transport Canada’s Regional Director of Civil Aviation for the Prairie and Northern Region, making her one of the few top female aviation executives in Transport Canada and in the aviation industry. She is responsible for all civil aviation safety including airports, maintenance and manufacturing, commercial, business and general aviation, flight training, engineering and enforcement for a region that encompasses Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, Nunavut, Northwest Territories and the Yukon.

Kate’s aviation journey began in 1979 when she left her job in the medical field to pursue a flying career. After obtaining her pilot licences and instructor rating, Kate taught with the Flying Scholarship Program of the Royal Canadian Air Cadet League before going on to work in the civil flight training system and as a pilot for small air carriers. She accepted her first position with Transport Canada as a Civil Aviation Inspector in 1984 after obtaining her Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL).

Kate has served in many different capacities within Transport Canada over the last 29 years including Civil Aviation Safety Inspector, check pilot, audit manager of international airports, manager of Airports and Air Navigation Systems, manager of Commercial and Business Aviation and Regional Operations Manager for Prairie and Northern Region. During her time as Manager of the Aerodromes Division, Kate was honoured with a special award by Transport Canada for her diligence in inspecting navigation aids in the Arctic and the Deputy Minister’s special medal for her contributions to the 1988 Winter Olympics.

Kate has advanced through the civil aviation system through hard work and perseverance and has been recognized for her contributions to aviation in two well known aviation books, “No Place for a Lady” and “Flying the Frontiers.” With more than 8,000 hours of flying experience, Kate continues to expand the opportunities for women in aviation and is a shining example for Canadian women to follow.


Elizabeth Wieben

Education Award

Liz grew up in a family that owned an air charter business in Thunder Bay (Superior Airways Ltd.). A bush pilot in Canada and a pilot in the Australian Outback, she landed a job as a DC-3 co-pilot in the United States, on condition the passengers didn’t find out.

Liz earned a Canadian Private and Commercial Pilot License and Flight Instructor Rating while in high school, then an Australian and American Commercial Pilot License and a Canadian Airline Transport Pilot License – Aeroplane.

After living and flying in Australia and the United States, Liza returned to the North Shore of Lake Superior with her husband and four young children to operate an air charter and outfitting service where she flew her beloved de Havilland Beaver.

In 1988, Liz accepted a position at Confederation College where she was responsible for developing, coordinating and teaching the Women in Trades and Technology program. She then joined the aviation management faculty and served as an aviation program coordinator, director of flight operations, flight instructor and designated flight test examiner. Confederation College presented her with a Distinguished Service Award and named her retired Professor Emeritus.

In addition to her outstanding contribution to Confederation College, Liz has received several personal honors in the field of aviation, including the Amelia Earhart Fellowship from the International Organization of Women in Aviation and prestigious appointments from the Governor General and Transport Canada.

Liz is an active participant in the Sleeping Giant section of The Ninety-Nines and inspires the next generation of female aviators through her diverse and compelling experiences, stories, struggles and accomplishments. An educated, accomplished, hard-working and dedicated professional, she is an outstanding example to follow and will continue to motivate and inspire many others for many years to come. Liz is still active in the aviation community at Confederation College and as a founding member of the Northwestern Ontario Aviation Heritage Centre.

Felicity McKendry

Pioneer Award

Felicity had an interest in aviation from a very young age – unfortunately, it was the 1940s and airlines did not hire female pilots and she was too tall to be a flight attendant! She completed her teachers’ certificate and taught but her real interest was flying – before long she enrolled in flying lessons and received her license. Felicity attempted applying for jobs as a commercial pilot but was turned down due to her gender. Felicity seized the opportunity to combine her love of flying and her teaching background to become a flight instructor, the 7th female instructor in Canada.

Felicity has had many significant accomplishments – she was instrumental in the formation of the Canadian Owners and Pilot Association (COPA), the leading organization representing the interests of private aviation in Canada. She was also one of the first female Chief Flying Instructors and by 1984, Felicity had achieved a Class 1 rating, the highest level in Canada. As a result, she was appointed as a Designated Flight Test Examiner by Transport Canada and selected to do the final flight testing of two of our famous Canadian astronauts, Mark Garneau and Steve MacLean.

In addition to her work in the aviation sector, Felicity worked tirelessly as a volunteer for the Parkinson Society and was recognized with the Dr Morton Shulman Award. The award is given to an individual who exemplifies creativity, energy and tenacity and the ability to influence others and to make a difference in the face of adversity.

Through her lengthy career as a flight instructor, Felicity instructed more than 1,100 Canadians and her impact as an instructor has resulted in many of her students becoming pilots, military pilots, commercial pilots, and others who simply have been able to enjoy the freedom of flight safe in the knowledge of having received the very best flight training from a woman who was never satisfied with mediocrity.

Natalie Panek

Rising Star

Natalie is an accomplished scholar. She holds a degree in Mechanical Engineering and a Masters of Applied Science in Aerospace Engineering from the University of Toronto Institute for Aerospace Studies. Impressively, she has driven a solar powered car across North America, was one of two Canadians selected for NASA internships in 2008, and then received a scholarship to attend the International Space University Space Studies Program at NASA Ames from the Canadian Foundation for the International Space University, where she participated on the ACCESS Mars team project.

Natalie is currently performing systems engineering for robotics on the International Space Station at MDA Space Missions as part of the Logistics and Sustaining Engineering team. She was the operations engineer for the Next Generation Canadarm project, responsible for robotic workspace analysis, mission planning, and execution of final demonstrations to the Canadian Space Agency and NASA during a Heads of Agency visit. Given Natalie’s expertise with robotic kinematics, she has also consulted on a variety of other projects at MDA including NeuroArm2 and the DARPA Phoenix program.

Natalie volunteers for MDA outreach activities to promote Canadian space exploration and technology, at events around Toronto including Space Days at the ROM and at multiple space events at the Ontario Science Centre.

Beyond her actual day job, Natalie strives to strengthen the role of women in engineering careers, including the creation of thePanekRoom, a directory of resources for women to become involved in science, engineering, and technology. She is an ambassador for young women in engineering and aims to inspire the next generation of females to dive head-on into challenging careers.

2012 Elsie Award Recipients

Nicole Saulnier

Business Award

Nicole Saulnier is co-owner, Chief Pilot and Operations Manager with Georgian Bay Airways (GBA) in Parry Sound, Ontario. 2012 is the tenth season of operations. She received a diploma in advertising from Georgian College and while working up the corporate ladder realized that seeing and hearing the planes flying past her office window was a career she really wanted to have. Float planes became her calling. She has thousands of hours flying the DeHavilland Beaver in northern Ontario, B.C.’s west coast and as Chief Pilot at the float plane base at Parry Sound Harbour, over the 30,000 islands of Georgian Bay. When the opportunity arose, she and her husband bought the base. Using her advertising skills, Nicole turned a drab base into an inviting, colourful space and added a gift shop and coffee and ice cream parlour. In 2003 GBA had eight employees and now around twenty.

Nicole acts as a mentor to women in new businesses. She was one of the first in the area to embrace social media. She has been the 1st Vice President for five years with Parry Sound Area Chamber of Commerce and has been asked to be the president in 2013. She also sits on numerous community and regional tourism and marketing boards and is currently being pursued by RT102 Explorer’s Edge to join their board.

Her career tips for women in aviation are: Don’t take no for an answer. Never give up. Set a goal and do what it takes to get there. Don’t doubt your abilities. You can have a career and family, it just requires less sleep and more determination to follow your head, not your heart.

Mary Ellen Pauli

Government Award

Mary Ellen Pauli grew up in Northern Quebec in a trailer near a seaplane base. Her father was a career pilot and Mary Ellen longed to fly too but there was little money and her father’s words “you’ll never get a job” haunted her, but did not daunt her. After High School she earned her commercial helicopter certificate at Fredericton Helicopters Ltd. in New Brunswick. In 1980 Mary Ellen worked for Trans Quebec Helicopters (TQH) at their Matagami base flying in and out of mining bush camps. There she met her husband who owned a mining exploration company in Timmins, Ontario. TQH’s sister company, Trans Canada Helicopters saw Timmins as an expansion opportunity and Mary Ellen opened a base there and was appointed as base manager. Two years later when the base closed, she flew as a rotation pilot on the James Bay Hydro Project flying for mining exploration, powerline construction and environmental studies.

In 1986 the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources began to acquire helicopters for their fleet and Mary Ellen, who had extensive experience on their aircraft type, became one of the Ontario government’s first helicopter pilots. As a government employee she improved her skills with courses in Deputy Conservation Officer and Aviation Management. Until recently Mary Ellen was the only “permanent staff” female pilot in the 85-year history of the OMNR.

In 1980 Mary Ellen won “Outstanding Service Award” for help in the great Canadian ice story, and in 2008, the P.R.I.D.E. Award for bravery.

Mary Ellen, her husband and two children live in Timmins. All are accomplished musicians. Mary Ellen worked hard to overcome many obstacles in her career path – only woman in secluded bush camps, facing polar bears, and old prejudices towards the capabilities of women in aviation careers. She offers strong encouragement to all women who care to follow in her footsteps and will say “where there’s a will, there’s a way.”

Regina Jordan

Pioneer Award

Gina Jordan, as a flight instructor, introduced thousands of pilots to the joy of flight, guided and inspired hundreds of aspiring students to become career pilots during her 17,000 hours of flight.

Gina was born in 1929 in New Brunswick near the present-day Saint John Airport. In 1952 she learned how to fly at the Fundy Bay Flying Club and by 1959 had obtained her Instructor rating and started teaching. In 1963 she moved to Calgary as an instructor with Chinook Flying Service and by 1970 opened her own advanced flying school, Jordan Flight Services doing IFR and Commercial training. In 1982 she sold her flying service and after training in Redwoods, California, became the second woman to fly for Mission Aviation Fellowship (MAF) as a missionary pilot until retirement in 1994. She flew over hundreds of miles of rain forest without navigational aids, no roads, and into remote jungle villages where grass airstrips had been hacked out of the forest. Aside from flying in the Cessna 404 and Beech 99, she also trained pilots in Tanzania on the Cessna 402 and on the Partnavia in Madagascar. She was a director of MAF from 1996 until 2001.

Between her sortees to Africa, Gina also flew as a corporate pilot in a Piper Navajo in Calgary, Alberta, flying oil rig workers thoughout northern Alberta and Saskatchewan. She flew in four Powder Puff Derbies between 1967 and 1970 and was a member of The Ninety-Nines, Inc.

After retirement Gina was involved with CASARA at the Saint John Airport back in New Brunswick.

Erika Kangas

Rising Star

Erika Kangas grew up in northern British Columbia and Sudbury, Ontario. Excelling in math and science, and wanting to pursue a career in aviation she moved to Toronto to attend the Aerospace Engineering program at Ryerson University. She was selected to be a participant in the Ryerson Institute for Aerospace Design and Innovation (RIADI) program. In 2006 she worked as a summer intern in the Engineering department at Pratt & Whitney Canada and Bombardier Aerospace DeHavilland Site in 2007/2008. In her final year at Ryerson she was elected as student chairperson for RIADI, where she honed and perfected her management skills.

After completing her degree in Aerospace Engineering, Erika was hired by Bombardier. As a member of the Graduate Development Program she worked in a variety of groups including, Liaison, Airworthiness, Flight Test and Mechanical Systems. She began working in the Flight Test Engineering Group for the Bombardier Q400 program as a Flight Test engineer. Erika was the Flight Test engineer on board the first biofuel flight in Canada.

Erika is involved in many voluntary programs and tours at Bombardier. The Children’s activity encourages youth to learn and pursue aviation and engineering related interests. Tours include students from the Seneca College aviation management program, Ryerson University, University of Toronto engineering department, and women in aviation groups.

She is currently working towards her Canadian Private Pilot certificate.

2011 Elsie Award Recipient

Roberta Taylor

Lifetime Achievement

Roberta (Robbie) Taylor was selected as the 2011 recipient of the Elsie MacGill Northern Lights Award. Roberta blazed the trail over 45 years ago when she began her career as a commercial bush pilot in northwestern Ontario. She has been an aircraft operations manager, air search and rescue pilot and fire patrol pilot in the Canadian Rockies, and served as ferry pilot and test pilot for the family aircraft business in Cranbrook, B.C.

Roberta was chosen as Chatelaine’s Woman of the Year, was a co-organizer for the first Canadian Women In Aviation conference, founded the Canadian Rockies Chapter of The Ninety-Nines, Inc. International Organization of Women Pilots, where she served as a Governor and International Director. She speaks at conferences promoting the history of women in aviation through her presentation titled “Lessons from our Mothers”. Having grown up near the Canada Car Foundry in Thunder Bay, Ontario where Elsie MacGill oversaw the wartime production of the Hawker Hurricane and where Roberta’s mother and father worked, Roberta was inspired to be a pioneer in the role of women in aviation.

After injuries sustained as a passenger in a serious car accident ended her flying career, Roberta completed her Master’s degree and is now a Senior Instructor in the Faculty of Human and Social Development at the University of Victoria in B.C. Like Elsie MacGill, she transitioned from aviation to working on equity and social issues in a broader context. Roberta is actively engaged in a community project aimed at ensuring a safe operating environment for floatplanes, paddlers and rowers in the busy Port of Victoria. She continues to be a mentor for her peers and students at UVIC.

2010 Elsie Award Recipient

Kathy Fox

Lifetime Achievement

Kathy Fox was awarded the second annual Elsie MacGill Northern Lights Award. Kathy has had a variety of careers all in aviation including parachutist, flight instructor and test examiner, flight school and air charter operator and Air Traffic Controller. She retired as VP of Nav Canada and is currently a member of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada.

Kathy was joined by many friends and colleagues, several who testified to her quiet, unassuming but powerful approach to leadership. A life tribute video was produced by Mariella Rowan and Norman Nattrass. Keynote speaker, Wendy Tadros, the Chair of the Transportation Safety Board of Canada said of Kathy, “For over 40 years Kathy has followed her passion: for aviation, for knowledge, for adventure, for life and it has brought her success after success. Since there doesn’t seem to be an end to her accomplishments, that means so far, she hasn’t found any limits. I suspect she never will.”

2009 Elsie Award Recipient

Heather Sifton

Lifetime Achievement

Heather Sifton was awarded the Inaugural Elsie MacGill Northern Lights Award. Mrs. Sifton is a licensed pilot, business woman and philanthropist. She was also the owner and operator of the Toronto Buttonville Airport and served an important role in all aspects of its growth and development for over 45 years. She has served as a positive influence and role model for many aviation students and contributed significantly to the aviation community in Canada.

Keynote speaker Dick Bourgeois-Doyle, author of “My Daughter the Engineer” – the life of Elsie MacGill – spoke about how the thread of achievements and challenges in her life mirror the lives of significant women such as Heather. Heather was joined by members of her family, local aircraft owners and pilots and aviation and political dignitaries. There were several tributes presented to Heather including a video produced by Asti Livingston, about her life. In accepting her award Heather commented, “This is a special evening for me and the Sifton family as a whole…..From something that started as a personal interest I have been able to participate in many things, a great business, a collection of truly special people who work with us and call our airport home and a job that has brought me pleasure and self satisfaction.”