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2013 Annual Award Dinner  

Lt.-Col. Maryse Carmichael


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.

2012 event poster

Catherine Fletcher


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.


Marcia Strang


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 groundschool, 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.


Elizabeth Wieben


Liz grew up in a family run air charter business in Thunder Bay called Superior Airways Ltd. She has flown as a bush pilot in Canada, an outback pilot in Australia and landed a co-pilot position on DC-3 in the U.S. under the condition she was not seen or heard by passengers!

While still in High School, Liz earned her Canadian Private and Commercial Pilot Licences and Flight Instructor Rating and also later earned her Australian Commercial Licence, American Commercial and Instrument Licence and Canadian Airline Transport Licence.

After living and flying in Australia and in the United States, Liz, husband and four young children returned to the north shore of Lake Superior where they operated an air charter and outfitting business where she flew the much loved Dehavilland Beaver.

In 1988, Liz accepted a position with Confederation College to establish, coordinate and teach the Women into Trades and Technology (WITT) program. From there, she joined the Aviation Flight Management faculty and served as Aviation Program Coordinator, Director of Flight Operations, Flight Instructor and Designated Flight Test Examiner. Confederation College presented Liz with an Outstanding Service Award and honoured her with the designation of Professor Emeritus upon retirement.

In addition to her significant contributions at Confederation College, Liz achieved several personal accomplishments in aviation including the International Organization of Women in Aviation Amelia Earhart Scholarship and prestigious appointments by the Governor General and Transport Canada.

Liz is an active participant in the 99s Sleeping Giant Chapter and continually inspires the younger generation of female aviators with her vast and interesting experiences, stories, struggles, and accomplishments. As an educated, accomplished, hard working and dedicated professional, she has served as a remarkable role model and will continue to encourage and inspire individuals for years to come. Liz continues to be active in the aviation community both at Confederation College and as a founding Board Member of Northwestern Ontario Aviation Heritage Centre.


Felicity McKendry


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


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.

Honourees will be presented with this prestigious award at our annual gala dinner on Friday, September 27, 2013 at
Spirale Banquet and Conference Centre, 888 Don Mills Road,
Toronto, Ontario:

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Event Memorabilia
  2011 preview program cover 2013 Poster   2013 Post Gala PRess release
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Event Gallery
99s group attending Gala   Winners - Natalie Panek and Maryse Carmichael
Winner - Elizabeth Wieben and husband   Winer - Felicity McKendry
2013 Winners   Winner tribute presenter - Jacquie Perrin
Discussion - Bombardier presentation   Michelle Barkham - Bombardier
Attendees at dinner   2013 Trophies
Emcee - Joy Parker Blackwood   Entertainment - Carey and Daniel Domb
2013 winners with Air Cadets   2013 Winners
Lynne McMullen - Scholarship Program Chair    

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