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Celebrating women’s achievements in aviation and aerospace

Concordia graduates shine at 10th Annual Elsie MacGill Northern Lights Awards
December 20, 2018
By Molly Hamilton

Elizabeth "Elsie" MacGill almost made it onto the new Canadian $10 bank note. The world’s first female aircraft designer was one of five women short-listed. (The honour eventually went to Viola Desmond.)

Despite her contributions to the advancement of women in Canada, MacGill wasn’t very well known, says Joy Parker Blackwood, president of the Northern Lights Aero Foundation, which promotes the role of women in aviation and aerospace. Every year, the foundation shines a spotlight on MacGill and on women following in her footsteps through the Elsie MacGill Awards.

“Our goal is to bring more recognition for her and all the women doing great work in aviation and aerospace in Canada. They are all awe-inspiring role models for our youth,” says Parker Blackwood.

Concordia grads honoured

For the 2018 edition, eight women were recognized — three of whom call Concordia their alma mater.


Julie Mailhot, BA 89 Air Georgian COO Julie Mailhot, BA 89, was honoured in the business category at the 2018 Elsie MacGill Awards

Julie Mailhot, BA 89, is a true leader of the pack. The chief operating officer of Air Georgian, a member of Air Canada Express, started her career as a customer service agent for Air Canada in 1987. She quickly rose through the ranks to become the airline’s first female dispatcher and was eventually promoted to chief of operations overseeing that division.

For the past 21 years, she’s also worked alongside her colleagues at the Toronto chapter of Dreams Take Flight, a non-profit that flies disadvantaged and sick kids to one of the Disney resorts in the United States for the day. Mailhot is currently president of the organization.


Alexandra Kindrat, PhD 18 A high school math teacher, research scientist and pilot, Alexandra Kindrat, PhD 18, encourages her students to pursue studies that lead to careers in STEM.

By age 17, Alexandra Kindrat, PhD 18, had already earned her private pilot’s license. A lifelong aviation enthusiast who conducts research on mathematics instruction and micro-gravity, she shares her passion for all things science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) with her students at St. Thomas High School in the Montreal suburb of Pointe Claire. She’s also taught at NASA’s High School Aerospace Scholar Program at the Johnson Space Centre in Houston, Tex., and has served as an educational consultant for the Canadian Space Agency.

When she’s not inspiring her students to reach for the stars, Kindrat is a long-standing member of the Canadian Ninety-Nines, an international organization of women pilots.


Niloofar Moradi, BEng 10 Niloofar Moradi, BEng 10, received the engineering award from the Northern Lights Aero Foundation for her work on turbine aerodynamics.

Niloofar Moradi, BEng 10, earned her undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering but after a stint as Rolls Royce Canada, was drawn to aerospace. Today Moradi is an aerodynamicist for Pratt & Whitney Canada (P&WC) where she is involved in all aspects of turbine aerodynamics — from research and airfoil design to engine development and production support.

A member of the industrial advisory board for Concordia’s Department of Mechanical, Industrial and Aerospace Engineering, as well as on the Aerospace sub-committee of Palais de Congrès de Montréal, Moradi dedicates much of her time to philanthropic pursuits through the Women in Leadership committee at P&WC. She works with charitable organizations like Dress for Success and Operation Christmas Child. Moradi was named one of the 2018 Top 20 Under 40 Agents of Change by Wings Magazine. When she’s not focused on the skies, Moradi like to explore the deepest corners of the ocean and is a passionate scuba diver.

The awards were presented in September at a gala dinner in Richmond Hill, Ont.

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