LIFT Off - Females Who Fly

We’re looking for leaders!

At LIFT Academy, we aspire to encourage the next generation of female leaders in aviation. We’re hosting our 2nd annual leadership seminar in September, aiming to inspire hundreds of young girls to continue their pursuit of a career in the aviation industry. This year, you’ll hear from some of the most well-respected women in the business. Join on September 26 starting at 9 AM EST for our celebration of Girls in Aviation Day!

Our prerecorded videos are LIVE! They will remain on the website all year. Sign up for LIFT Off to access the videos!

Scroll down to view LIFT Off, Females Who Fly 2020!

Register today!

We can’t wait for you to join us for LIFT Off. You’ll have the opportunity to hear from inspiring women who grew up just like you. They set goals, they took chances and they were confident in their ability to make things happen. You can, too!


Did you know that women make up 5.44% of airline pilots, 3% of aviation CEOs and 2.3% of aviation maintenance technicians? To all the girls and women in aviation and all the girls who want to be in aviation, today is for you! Today, we celebrate LIFT Off, Females Who Fly, a virtual Girls in Aviation Day Summit where we introduce you to amazing women doing amazing things in aviation.

My name is Dana Donati and I’m the General Manager and Director of Academic Programs at LIFT Academy, a Republic Airways company. Once a Republic Airways pilot and now a leader in flight training and aviation education, I want to introduce you to pilots, mechanics, government leaders, lawyers and CEOs. Our goal is to provide you with a peek into the amazing careers aviation has to offer and to show you that the possibilities in aviation are endless.

Take some time to read our “panelists” bios and watch their interviews. Our guests will provide insight to the challenges they have faced but most importantly, how they have overcome those challenges. They will tell you that they aren’t experts in math and science but, instead, well rounded and hardworking. Some of our guests didn’t go to college for aviation but followed their dreams by finding a career they were passionate about.

LIFT Academy wants to help close the gender gap in aviation and show our young viewers what they are capable of becoming. We hope you enjoy learning from our guests and find the inspiration you need to follow your dreams. Thank you for your participation!


Want to take a quick break from viewing our awesome “panelists” videos? We’ve created a Spotify playlist that includes all of the “panelists” favorite inspirational songs as well as some of our favorites at LIFT Academy!



Ready to start the LIFT Off, Females Who Fly Scavenger Hunt? Fillable PDF and Microsoft Word versions of the directions and scavenger hunt form are below! To fill out the scavenger hunt form, you may print the document and fill it out, fill it out on your computer or write out all of the necessary information on your own piece of paper. Once you have completed the portions of the scavenger hunt you choose to, you can take a photo of your form, scan your form, or save as a new document and email it to





– CFI & CFII at LIFT Academy –

Alexis Potter is a flight instructor at LIFT Academy. Prior to joining LIFT, she lived in Austin, Texas where she received her bachelor’s degree in bioinformatics from St. Edward’s University and her Private Pilot Certificate from a local aviation school. Alexis pursued a career in aviation because she enjoys traveling to new places and seeing the world from different perspectives. When she is not flying, Alexis prioritizes spending time with family and friends, exploring the outdoors and trying new recipes. Her dream is to one day live abroad!


– First Officer at Republic Airways –

Andrea Santizo (@alifeonthefly on Instagram) was born in Guatemala and grew up there until the age of 12. Her family then moved to Canada, which is where she discovered her love for aviation. At 16 years old, before she could drive a car, she received her glider pilot’s license! From that point on she knew she wanted to continue flying for the rest of her life. Currently, Andrea is a First Officer flying the Embraer 175 for Republic Airways. Most recently, she flew to Alaska to get her sea plane rating so she could learn how to land on water!


– First Officer at JetBlue Airways –

Camila Turrieta is an airline pilot with JetBlue Airways, flying the Airbus 320/321. She holds a variety of FAA certifications and is also a Certified Flight Instructor, Aircraft Dispatcher and Unmanned Aerial Systems Pilot. Camila obtained her Bachelor of Science Degree in Aircraft Operations from Vaughn College and her master’s degree with specializations in Aircraft Accident Investigation and Human Factors from Embry Riddle Aeronautical University. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Education degree focusing on Higher Education and Adult Learning from Walden University. She is a member of the Critical Incident Response Program, the Professional Standards Committee, the Pilot Assistance Network and serves as the Chair for Diversity & Inclusion for the Airline Pilots Association. 


– CEO of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport (CVG) –

Candace McGraw has served as the Chief Executive Officer of the Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky Airport since July 2011. She is proud to lead a team that has been recognized by SkyTrax as the “World’s Best Airport Serving Less Than 10 million Passengers” and as the “Best Regional Airport in North America” for seven of the last nine years. Candace serves on several local boards, as well as several boards in the airport industry. She has also been appointed by the Secretary of the Department of Transportation to serve on two federal advisory boards: NextGen Advisory Committee and Women in Aviation Advisory Board. Candace has a bachelor’s and master’s degree from Duquesne University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Pittsburgh.



– Aviation Maintenance Technology Apprentice at LIFT Academy –

Christy Ysabel Perez Vasquez was born in the Dominican Republic and came to the United States when she was 8 years old. Christy’s goal is to become an Aircraft Mechanic, and then work towards her pilot’s license. She is on her way to achieving one of those goals, as she is currently an Apprentice Mechanic in LIFT Academy’s Aviation Maintenance Technician program. Prior to coming to LIFT, she was a Flight Attendant and Flight Attendant Ground School Instructor. Christy hopes to inspire others like her, who have come from nothing to make something amazing out of their lives.


– Future Aviator –

Eden is a feisty, fearless, sensitive and loving 8-year-old. She is a true natural leader and blossoms when given responsibility. She is also a twin! Eden is excited to learn from strong independent women because she has high aspirations for her future.



– President and CEO of the Regional Airline Association –

Faye Malarkey Black serves as President and CEO of the Regional Airline Association and has led the organization since February 2015. She oversees the daily operations of the Association, develops and executes its policy and business objectives and serves as the primary spokesperson for the regional airline industry. Ms. Black has served the RAA since 1998 and was formerly Senior Vice President of Government Affairs. She currently serves on the RTCA Policy Board and the NextGen Institute Management Council. She is also a member of the Transportation Research Board’s Standing Committee on Commercial Airlines and was appointed to the U.S. Department of Transportation’s Working Group on Small Community Air Service in 2017. Ms. Black holds a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Pittsburgh and resides in Washington, DC.


– Managing Engineer in the aviation group at C&S Engineers Inc. –

Kelly Jost is a managing engineer in the aviation group at C&S Engineers, Inc., where she has worked for the last 14 years. She is involved in all aspects of a project from the very early planning and development stages, to funding and grants and finally design and construction. Kelly has a Bachelor of Science degree in Civil Engineering from Michigan Technological University and obtained her professional engineering license in 2009. She is a founding member of the C&S Women’s Network and serves as the organization’s steering committee co-chair. Kelly also has her private pilot certificate, and is a member of the Ninety-Nines, Women in Aviation International and Michigan Association of Airport Executives (MAAE).


– Flight Attendant at Republic Airways –

Lauren Pruitt is a Flight Attendant for Republic Airways. She has been a Flight Attendant for 2 years and loves her job now more than ever. Prior to being a flight attendant, Lauren received her bachelor’s degree from Indiana State University. She fell in love with aviation during her junior year of college. She was the valedictorian of her flight attendant class and takes pride in being a woman in aviation. Over the last 2 years, Lauren has gotten to travel the world and work alongside the best people.


–  Attorney at Jetstream Aviation Law, P.A. –

Lori McGee is an attorney with Jetstream Aviation Law, P.A. She works with businesses and individuals on acquiring and structuring ownership of aircraft. As a pilot, mechanic, and attorney she combines her experience and knowledge on the operational and legal side to find solutions for her clients. Lori is also a skydiver!


– Former President/CEO and Founder of Women in Aviation, International, Aviation Educator –

Dr. Peggy Chabrian was the President/CEO and Founder of Women in Aviation, International for 25 years. She is a 2,800-hour commercial/instrument multi-engine pilot and flight instructor who has been flying for over 40 years. She holds helicopter and seaplane ratings to her flight qualifications. Dr. Chabrian has held several top positions in aviation education and was the publisher of Aviation for Women and Aviation for Girls magazines. She is active in numerous aviation organizations and serves as a member of several boards. Dr. Chabrian has also received numerous aviation and education awards, her most recent being the Henderson Trophy in 2020.


– Captain and Line Checkairman at Republic Airways –

Rachel Rea is a Captain at Republic Airways, flying the Embraer E-175 and based at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA). In addition to being a Captain, she is also a Line Checkairman and serves as a Safety Team Representative with the pilot’s union, the Teamsters Local 357. She lives in Virginia and enjoys the wide variety of outdoor recreation that Virginia offers, including road cycling, kayaking and hiking, as well as figure skating. She is also a beekeeper and enjoys continually learning new things.


– Former FA-18 Hornet Pilot with the US Navy and Retired Captain at Southwest Airlines –

Tammie Jo Shults was one of the first female F/A-18 Hornet pilots in the United States Navy. After concluding her Navy career, she became a pilot for Southwest Airlines. Tammie Jo’s incredible history and talent received wide acclaim on April 17, 2018, when she successfully landed a Southwest Boeing 737 after an engine exploded at high altitude, causing multiple system failures and a rapid depressurization. The successful landing of Flight 1380 in Philadelphia saved 148 total lives including passengers and crew, as detailed in her novel, Nerves of Steel 


– Executive VP of National Air Traffic Controllers Association –

Trish Gilbert worked 21 years as an air traffic controller at Houston Center, and served in many activist roles within the union during that time. She has served as the National Air Traffic Controllers Association’s seventh Executive Vice President since she was elected in September 2009 and was re-elected to a fourth three-year term in July 2018. She’s served on many boards and committees, chaired NATCA’s National Organizing Committee, served as NATCA Charitable Foundation Vice President and then, the Foundation’s President. In May 2018, at its annual Women in Aviation Scholarship luncheon, the American Association of Airport Executives (AAAE)  honored Gilbert by announcing the creation of a new permanently-endowed scholarship in her name. In May of this year, Gilbert was appointed to the Women in Aviation Advisory Board (WIAAB). The purpose of the WIAAB is to develop strategies and recommendations that encourage women and girls to enter the field of aviation.


– Supervisor of Line Maintenance at Alaska Air –

Veronica Leacock Jimenez was born and raised in Panama. After obtaining her Associate Degree in Aircraft Maintenance, she emigrated to the United States. Veronica received her FAA Airframe and Powerplant (A&P) license in San Diego and has worked as an A&P Technician for Horizon Airlines, Virgin American, Hawaiian Airlines and Delta Airlines. Her passion in the industry earned her opportunities to be a Technical Operations Ambassador for Delta Airlines and lobbied to congress as part of a group seeking enforcement of the Open Skies Agreement. Currently, she is a Supervisor of Line Maintenance for Alaska Air while also enrolled at Embry-Riddle University where she is completing her Bachelor of Science in Project Management 


Date: 9.26.2020

Time: We go LIVE at 9 AM EST and videos are

Location: Virtual

LIFT Off is open to all future and current female aviators!


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