In 2021, we asked the 30 by 30 Champions’ network to nominate EDI Champions in engineering workplaces:
- Individual leaders in engineering workplaces who use their platforms to further women and gender diverse people’s presence in the engineering profession.
- Engineering employers who are leaders in changing workplace culture towards being more inclusive and equitable for a diverse workforce. While there are individual leaders within each organization, this category recognizes employers who are making system wide changes.
We are pleased to feature these leaders below! Click on their names to read more about them, their accomplishments, and their noteworthy contributions to furthering EDI in engineering.
Damineh Akhavan, MBA, P.Eng.
Founder, Global Women in STEM Inc.
Senior Engineer, Viking Air Ltd.
Damineh was three when she watched Sally Ride aboard the Space Shuttle Challenger as the first American woman in space, and she knew then that she wanted to be an astronaut when she grew up. By the age of eight, Damineh knew she wanted to be an astronomer to discover a planet on which humans could survive, an engineer to build a spacecraft, and an astronaut to fly all the underprivileged people on Earth to the planet she had discovered on the spacecraft she had built. It was this goal that resulted in her parents moving to Canada when she was a teenager, and which paved the way for her endeavours as a professional.
Damineh holds a Bachelor of Engineering in Mechanical Engineering with specialty in Aerospace and a Bachelor of Science in Physics as well as an MBA in International Business. She is a Senior Engineer at Viking Air, where she has worked for over 16 years, and a Transport Canada Designated Engineer supporting the world’s 1500 de Havilland legacy and CL water bomber aircraft. In addition, she is the Co-Founder of Global Women in STEM promoting equality for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) on the global stage through education, advocacy, and action.
Damineh is passionate about the advancement of women in STEM fields and involvement of children in STEM subjects. She has been an advocate for equity, diversity, and inclusion for women in STEM, and a champion for women in engineering for the past 17 years, a passion that has grown over the years especially after becoming a mother.
Working in the energy sector for the past ten years, Ménélika Bekolo earned a B.A. and an M.A. in electrical engineering at Polytechnique Montréal, as well as a management diploma at McGill University. Her career has included positions at CIMA+, the Régie de l’énergie and Hydro-Québec. She was also an energy and electrical energy consultant for the government of Wallonia in Belgium.
A proud ambassador for her profession, she has been involved as a volunteer for the past several years with the Ordre des ingénieurs du Québec (OIQ), and is also a member of its council. She is deeply committed to promoting the engineering profession and raising its profile among women and young people, encouraging the recognition and advancement of women in the field of engineering. She has instigated and organized several initiatives to promote and pursue that vision in diverse work environments.
Ménélika Bekolo is a woman of compassion and impact whose leadership and commitment earned her a place on the 2019 "Top 100 Black Women to Watch in Canada" list. She was also designated a source of inspiration to young women by the Association de l’industrie électrique du Québec. She tirelessly promotes diversity, and is a member of the Groupe des Trente (G30) –Concertation Montréal, an association of young leaders from diverse ethnic and cultural backgrounds.
Claudia Gomez-Villeneuve is a professional engineer, university professor, EDI champion, and brand-new Fellow of Engineers Canada. Before switching to academia, she worked at Enbridge managing petroleum pipeline projects for over 15 years. The largest pipeline project she ever led was a $120M petroleum tank farm complete with steel tanks, pumps, valves, meters, electrical infrastructure, and associated facilities. Today, Claudia works in five different universities teaching engineering and project management in both English and Spanish. In April 2019 she shared the Association of Professional Engineers and Geoscientists of Alberta (APEGA) Summit Award, as a Champion for Women in Engineering and Geoscience, with the CCWESTT (Canadian Coalition of Women in Engineering, Science, Trades and Technology) 2018 Steering Committee. Since 2017 she has been an elected member of the APEGA Council, being re-elected by the membership twice. She is also the Founder and two-time Chair of Women in Engineering Summit Ltd. (WES), a non-profit organization whose mission is to support the 30 by 30 Initiative by Engineers Canada by sharing practical solutions to keeping women happy in engineering and geoscience jobs for life. Claudia was born in Barranquilla, Colombia, and currently lives in Edmonton, Alberta, with her husband and their three children.
Dr. Mina Hoorfar is an academic leader, researcher and teacher who is known for her collaborative approach, high-impact scholarship and passionate advocacy of equity, diversity and inclusion (EDI). In July 2021, Mina became the first woman appointed as Dean of UVic’s Faculty of Engineering and Computer Science, where she leads 3,600 students, 100 faculty, and 60 staff. Since joining UVic, Mina has worked toward cultivating a culture that is based on EDI values and has supported several initiatives designed to lead to meaningful, lasting change for all under-represented groups. Before UVic, Mina worked for 15 years as a professor at the School of Engineering at the University of British Columbia’s Okanagan campus, where she was also its leader for six years.
Mina earned an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Tehran, moving to Canada to pursue her Master’s and PhD at the University of Toronto. With a focus on advanced thermofluidics, Mina has contributed to high-impact, real-life solutions in areas such as energy, health, and the environment. She has gained recognition for her work and teaching through numerous awards and, in 2020, became president of the Canadian Society for Mechanical Engineering.
Michelle is concurrently pursuing a full-time PhD in the Faculty of Engineering and a full-time JD in the Faculty of Law at the University of Ottawa. She funds the Liu-Kennington Award for the 2SLGBTQ+ Engineering Community at the University of Waterloo, where she received her B.A.Sc. and M.A.Sc. in civil engineering. She expects to receive her P.Eng. in early 2022.
Motivated by her experiences as a queer and racialized woman in engineering, Michelle serves in leadership and volunteer roles to advance equity, diversity, and inclusion in the engineering and legal professions, including working with Engineers Canada’s 30 by 30 initiative and as a member of the Equity Advisory Group of the Law Society of Ontario. Michelle remains involved with Waterloo Engineering and the broader engineering community in roles that allow her to empower equity-seeking individuals and to shift the engineering culture, including as Chair of the Waterloo Recent Engineering Alumni Council, member of Waterloo Engineering Endowment Fund Board of Directors, and an Ambassador with the Ontario Network of Women in Engineering. Michelle has also been trusted with many important leadership roles within uOttawa, including serving as law student body President and Faculty of Law representative on the University Senate.
Mairim has a Bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering obtained in Venezuela, her country of origin. She has more than 20 years of engineering experience in the design and execution of complex projects in both Venezuela and Canada, covering oil and gas, pipeline distribution, manufacturing, and most recently in the field of hydrometallurgy in her current role at Sherritt International. Not only has Mairim shared her passion for engineering through active participation in APEGA’s Mentoring Program since 2015, but she has also volunteered for organizations like United Way. Her pragmatism makes her an especially effective mentor as she guides engineers in balancing the practical aspects of career moves or navigating a language barrier, as she once had to do. Last year, Mairim launched a not-for-profit organization, Mujeres Omega Inc. (IG: @mujeresomega), which profiles a role model for Latina women and focuses on providing opportunities for women to experience personal growth, networking, and thoughtful conversations. In addition to the above, Mairim gives to the community in multiple ways, including chairing the 2021 United Way Campaign at Sherritt International, continuous participation in APEGA’s Mentorship program, as well as participation in a work lead Employee Resource Group (LeadHERS) focused on diversity and inclusion aspects.
Jocelyn Peltier-Huntley is a Vanier Scholar, facilitator, equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI) researcher, and professional mechanical engineer with eighteen years of experience. She is driven to create awareness and remove roadblocks so that all individuals and organizations can realize the benefits of EDI and achieve their full potential. Jocelyn leads change through investigating problems, translating for common understanding, and implementing practical solutions to these problems. With her company, Prairie Catalyst Consulting, she supports leaders to make changes through engagement, consultation, and collaboration.
Jocelyn has a B.Sc. with distinction in Mechanical Engineering, a M.Sc. in Interdisciplinary Studies, and is currently pursuing her PhD at the University of Saskatchewan. After spending 13 years of her career working at Canadian mining and mineral processing sites in technical and leadership roles, Jocelyn is now expanding her social impact potential by leading and inspiring positive change through EDI research, facilitation, and consulting. Jocelyn is an active volunteer with Women in Mining and Women in Nuclear Saskatchewan (WIM/WiN-SK) where she is the Vice-Chair of the Board and the Chair of the Mentorship Committee.
Keith Pilkey is a professor and Head of the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering (MME) at Queen’s University. Since his appointment as department head in 2018, Dr. Pilkey has made equity, diversity, inclusion and Indigeneity (EDII) a priority. He established a Women in MME working group and an EDII committee in his department, and he serves as the member-at-large in the Circle of Advisors for the STEM: Indigenous Academics program at Queen’s (formerly called Aboriginal Access to Engineering). Dr. Pilkey was also part of a small group who developed the mandate and secured an endowed donation for the new Chair for Women in Engineering at Queen’s. Dr. Pilkey’s research interests lie in the areas of material deformation and failure mechanisms as they relate to a wide variety of engineering materials and applications, ranging from steel and aluminum alloy sheet used for the manufacture of automotive structural components to cancellous bone and the decrease in fracture strength caused by bone-degenerative diseases such as osteoporosis. He teaches undergraduate courses in materials science, solid mechanics, and deformation processing, and courses in metal forming and materials selection in design at the graduate level.
Growing up as a Baha’i (a minority religion in Iran) Shohreh lost her father, uncle and cousin to religious persecution (1979-1981) at young age and years later was denied access to university education. In 1994 she migrated to Canada as a Bone-Marrow-Donor to her sister with leukemia. She studied Civil Engineering (Environmental Option) at the University of Alberta. Shohreh is now a professional engineer and proud owner of Ursa Environment Inc. Her clients come from varied socio-economic, cultural and linguistic backgrounds. She is dedicated to helping other women, especially those who face additional obstacles, find success. One way she is doing this is through her work with WESTEM program. She developed a 6-week program for WESTEM, designed to support women entrepreneurs, with immigrant and Indigenous women in mind, and titled it Breaking Down Barriers. This program had 111 registrants from across rural southern Alberta over the 12 workshop series. Of great significance is Shohreh’s willingness to act as a mentor to other women in engineering, other STEM fields and in entrepreneurship. She has done this by sharing her history and experiences by participating in podcasts, documentaries, conference discussion panels and acting as business advisor to WESTEM clients.
Chunpreet Sahota is an accomplished structural engineer with 12 years of experience in the design and analysis of structures in a variety of industries. She has been with WSP since 2016 and excels as a cohesive and collaborative leader on multidisciplinary project teams. She is a mentor, advocate, and an inspiring leader. Chunpreet consistently demonstrates that she is a difference maker – the type of professional that you want to build a practice and team around.
Chunpreet demonstrates an extraordinary capacity and commitment to embedding diversity and inclusivity into her work and within the engineering profession. This commitment is demonstrated not only in her passionate attitude, but in her actions that have made a difference and positive impact on her peers and the community around her. Chunpreet led the creation of an equity, diversity, and inclusion committee for the WSP Vancouver office – the first of its kind at WSP Canada. Chunpreet has been instrumental in building WSPs Canadian Diversity & Inclusion strategy, impacting the experience of 8,000 team members across Canada. She is a founding and active board member of the non-profit organization Women in Consulting Engineering Vancouver. She has worked alongside co-founders to build an organization who empower each other through mentorship and shared experience.
Executive engineering and construction leader experienced with setting business direction and goals in alignment with his overall organization's strategy, while communicating and ensuring successful execution of those goals. Developing and leading high-performing teams is Jesse's passion, while ensuring a healthy and safe working environment incorporating an equitable, diverse, inclusive, and trustworthy approach to leadership.
As a project management professional (PMP), and risk management professional (RMP), Jesse has intimate knowledge of multiple project management/delivery tools and techniques. With a background as a professional engineer in Canada and the US, and an Envision Sustainability Professional, Jesse has the ability to lead teams effectively, incorporate sustainable design and construction principles, interpret and administer contracts, and understand the technical aspects of his team’s projects.
Jesse is a strong believer in equity, diversity, and inclusion in the workplace incorporating this into the culture and leadership of his teams, as well as mentorship via support of programs including Engineers and Geoscientists BC’s member-in-training program, the Project Management Institute’s Mentorship Program, and UBC Engineering's Mentorship Program.
Jesse enjoys being actively engaged as a volunteer in his industry as the current President/Board Chair with the British Columbia Construction Roundtable, a position he has held since 2019. In 2020, he was one of the proud recipients of the 40 under 40 in Canadian Construction.
Meghana Valupadas (she/her) graduated from the University of Alberta in Civil Engineering. She holds a Canadian Certified Inclusion Professional (CCIP) designation from the Canadian Centre for Diversity and Inclusion (CCDI), whose mission is help organizations be inclusive, free of prejudice and discrimination, and to generate awareness, dialogue, and action for people to recognize diversity as an asset and not an obstacle. Meghana has been engaged in advocacy work for over 10 years and has always been passionate about encouraging dialogue and sparking change. She is a founding member and the former Vice-Chair of the Women's Advocacy Voice Committee of Edmonton, the former Chair of the 2020 Women in Engineering Summit, and the Co-Creator of Diversity in Engineering, an organization that supports traditionally underrepresented groups in engineering at the University of Alberta. She has been providing equity, diversity, and inclusion training to not-for-profit groups, industry, and academia since 2017. Meghana currently works as a transportation engineer-in-training with ISL Engineering.
Nicole (she/her) is a postdoctoral fellow with the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Alberta applying human behaviour research to enhancing the effectiveness of equity, diversity, and inclusivity practices and initiatives. She has supported the development of a gender equity allyship group, faculty hiring equity practices and outcomes tracking, and climate surveys for students as well as studying outcomes of K-12 outreach programs and equity practices. Working with awesome, passionate students, professors, and staff to create change is the best part of her job. Previously, Nicole worked in corporate training and development and change management as well as instructing business, psychology, and leadership university courses. Early in her career, Nicole worked in oilfield manufacturing and customer service roles, inspiring her passion for change. During her doctoral studies in human resources and organizational behaviour, Nicole studied the role of workplace climate in incivility, harassment, and violence and the effects of rude customers within companies.
Stantec is a renowned global design consultancy providing services in infrastructure, water, architecture, community development, the environment, energy, and sustainability. We believe that communities are fundamental, and always design with community in mind.
Founded in 1954, Stantec is headquartered in Edmonton, Alberta. Our roots have grown from Canadian values of inclusion, diversity, and belonging to a global community 22,000 members strong. With more than 7,500 staff in 58 offices throughout Canada, we’ve helped define Canada’s landscape coast-to-coast with iconic engineering projects including PEI’s Confederation Bridge and Waterloo’s evolv1 – the first commercial building in Canada to achieve NetZero Carbon certification.
At Stantec, we believe that inviting, embracing, and celebrating differences creates opportunity and inspires our best work. That’s why our Inclusion and Diversity (I&D) program provides a range of opportunities, resources, and events for our employees to celebrate and encourage discussions around this topic. Over the last decade, we have formed Employee Resource Groups and I&D Council Committees to support and encourage I&D efforts; provided training to our employees to overcome unconscious biases; partnered with organizations that work with Black, Indigenous, People of Colour, and LGBTQ2+ communities; implemented a diversity supplier program; and provided scholarships to underrepresented groups.
Wood is a global leader in engineering and consultancy across energy and industry. To successfully unlock solutions to the world’s most critical challenges, we must attract, develop, and retain the brightest talent. This means recognising, understanding, and celebrating our people’s experiences and backgrounds across our global community. Our approach to Inclusion and Diversity is a holistic one, with inclusion and our people at the heart of all that we are trying to do. At Wood, our values of care, courage, and commitment, combined with our three E approach to equity, diversity, and inclusion (EDI), create a powerful impact. We care to educate ourselves and each other, we commit to empathise and gain a better understanding and a commitment to engage in the conversations and initiatives. We pride ourselves on finding solutions for the world’s most complex problems and we take that mindset into areas of EDI. We understand the complexities and intersectional challenges involved and look to tailor our strategy and initiatives to acknowledge that a one size fits all approach is not feasible or sustainable. We are proud that our work in EDI is globally recognised, recently winning several awards that acknowledged our efforts.