New ideas, directions and products – and a commitment to pushing past limits
Michelle Obama once said, “There is no limit to what we, as women, can accomplish.”
You can see that in every aspect of our communities. This International Women’s Day, we’re celebrating a group of NAIT grads and staff who have emerged as leaders in a variety of fields.
From health care to industry to culture to education and more, these women are responsible for new ideas, new directions, new products and are dedicated to pushing past limits and barriers.
They’re contributors to the betterment of the world around us – and we’re so proud to recognize that, today and everyday.
In February 2023, Bean Gill (Medical Radiologic Technology ’03) solidified her role as one of Alberta’s top advocates for people with physical disabilities. The cofounder of the ReYu Paralysis Recovery Centre took on the the starring role of a docuseries called Push, now airing on CBC.
Read more about Bean Gill
Amy Bespalko (Diagnostic Medical Sonography ’19) would have had little trouble finding a job in her field. But instead of signing on with another clinic, she started one of her own in her hometown of St. Paul, providing greater access to health care in rural and small-town Alberta.
Read more about Amy Bespalko
When Shelvie Fernan (Marketing ’16, Bachelor of Business Administration ’18) looked at the international shipping market, she saw an unchallenged industry that charged too much and moved too slowly.
She also saw an opportunity that led her to create Fly and Fetch, a company designed to disrupt that industry by way of the shared economy.
Read more about Shelvie Fernan
Once called “one of the most powerful women in the world on a bike,” Olympic gold-medallist Kelsey Mitchell (Instrumentation Engineering Technology ’16, Personal Fitness Trainer ’17) has set a blistering pace in international track cycling ever since switching to the sport following her time on the Ooks women’s soccer team.
Read more about Kelsey Mitchell
In 2021, Angeline Tetteh-Wahoe (Radio and Television - Radio ’00) made history in Canadian radio with the launch of The Block, the first nation-wide show dedicate to Black music and exploring the cultural contributions of artists across genres such as soca, pop, R&B, hip-hop and funk.
Read more about Angeline Tetteh-Wahoe
What does International Women's Day mean to you?
Happy International Women's Day! We asked a few of our alumni to share what International Women's Day means to them. Swipe through these photos to hear what it means to Avery, Morgan, Erin, Dawn, Kristine, Natalie, Lasha, and Dallas.
Laura Jo Gunter
Laura Jo Gunter was appointed NAIT’s seventh president and CEO in 2020. She is the first woman in the role in the polytechnic’s 60-year history. Among advancing various areas of NAIT, Gunter has been a champion for equity, diversity and inclusion. She is also the first president with a podcast, The Curious President.
Read more about Laura Jo Gunter
2022 Distinguished Alumni Award recipient Marni Panas (Computer Systems Technology ’02 and Business Administration - Management '91) has long espoused embracing one’s authentic self. That’s seen her excel in creating welcoming environments in her role in health care and as an advocate for human rights in Alberta and Canada.
Read more about Marni Panas
Landing a career in the trades wasn’t easy for Cecile Bukmeier (Auto Body Technician ’15). But through perseverance and talent, she has blazed a trail for other women in her field as she became her program’s first female instructor and, in 2023, its chair.
Read more about Cecile Bukmeier
Linda Hoang (Radio and Television – TV ’11) is recognized as one of Edmonton’s highest profile social media influencers, strategists and bloggers. She’s put all of that to use as an entrepreneur but also as a stalwart supporter of local small businesses.
Hoang also played a key role in the development of Stop Race Based Hate, a website of resources for combatting racist assumptions.
Read more about Linda Hoang
For 20 years, Sherry Shaw-Froggatt (Marketing ’85) has served the city of Airdrie by telling it the story of itself in the pages of her magazine, airdrielife.
Hers is the story of DIY determination, a positive attitude and, in an increasingly digital world, an odds-beating print run.
Read more about Sherry Shaw-Froggatt
Dr. Heather Kaminsky is one Alberta’s foremost experts in tailings, the liquid byproduct of mining processes such as oil sands extraction. But the NSERC Industrial Research Chair for Colleges in Oil Sands Tailings Management is also a connector.
Each month, her Tailings Book Club brings together a community of operators and technicians to discuss the latest research and see how it might advance best practice.
Read more about Dr. Heather Kaminsky
2022 Alumni Award of Excellence winner Kathy Leskow (Management '96) wouldn’t be in business if she couldn’t use it to help others when the need arises.
The founder of Confetti Sweets, an international brand that started at Edmonton-area farmers markets, responded to pandemic shutdowns by inviting local vendors who’d previously relied on markets themselves to sell in her shop. With the invasion of Ukraine, Leskow started a cookie fundraiser. She’d set out to raise $10,000; she raised $35,000 instead.
Read more about Kathy Leskow
Yasmin Jivraj brings years of experience as a tech entrepreneur to her role as chair of NAIT’s Board of Governors. Despite challenges such as the pandemic, Jivraj remains optimistic about the polytechnic’s future.
“We’ve learned a lot as we move toward recovery and growth,” she says. “We have seen the possibilities and opportunities. We’re in a very good position and looking forward to our journey.”
Read more about Jasmin Jivraj