2017 Award Recipients
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.
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)
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 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 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.
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 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 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.
Watch the Elsie Award presentations on Youtube.