WAI 2020 Conference Hosts Record Number of Attendees & Exhibitors

Three days focused on workforce issues, professional development & education seminars, and Girls in Aviation Day Orlando, Florida


Participating at the Professional Development Seminar on March 6, WAI2020. Photo provide by WAI.

Women in Aviation International held another successful annual gathering during the 31st Annual International Women in Aviation Conference at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort in Lake Buena Vista, Florida, March 5-7, 2020. With its unique blend of top-notch speakers, busy exhibit hall, an array of education sessions, and more than 100 scholarship awards, the WAI 2020 conference delivered numerous opportunities to connect and network with female peers in the aviation and aerospace industry.

Photo by Craig Pieper

 “I was inspired to meet so many engaging members and corporations that believe in our WAI mission to continue creating and growing programs to assist with our members’ personal and professional development,” says newly appointed CEO Allison McKay. “Together we can ensure that the aviation industry has the talent needed for a vibrant and sustainable future. I’m excited to work with the WAI Board of Directors to advance our mission through initiatives designed to engage, inspire, and educate our current and future workforce,” adds Allison. 

The Boeing Company at WAI2020. Photo by John Riedel.
Speaker Patty Wagstaff, Girls in Aviation Day at WA2020. Photo by Christopher Miller.

A highlight of every conference is the induction of women into WAI’s International Pioneer Hall of Fame. This year’s inductees include: Maj. Gen. Jeannie Leavitt, commander, U.S. Air Force Recruiting Service, and the first U.S. Air Force female fighter pilot; Patty Wagner, an airshow legend, multi-rated pilot, and a devoted WAI volunteer; and The U.S. Army’s First Women Rotary Wing Aviators, a group of nine female helicopter pilots who represent the first women in rotary-wing aviation to serve in the U.S. Army. These four lieutenants and five warrant officers proved women had a place in military aviation and blazed the trail forward for future generations of Army women. 

Secretory of the Air Force Barbara Barrett (left) joins Lieutenant. General. Stayce D. Harris for the unveiling of her portrait at WAI2020. In 2016, President Barack Obama nominated her to be promoted to the rank of lieutenant general. Upon her promotion, Lieutenant General Harris became both the first African-American woman to hold the rank of lieutenant general in the Air Force and the highest ranking African-American woman in the history of the Air Force. Photo by Chris Miller.

Visits to the sold-out exhibit hall were interspersed with general sessions on Friday and Saturday mornings, with dozens of education sessions held Thursday through Saturday where attendees chose which sessions were best for their career goals and personal interests. 

During the WAI membership meeting, Andrea Berry was approved as a new board member, Deborah Baugh and Brittney Miculka were re-elected. Marci Veronie’s term as board chair ended and Linda Markham, Cape Air president, became the new WAI Board chair.

Tour at Kennedy Space Center. Photo by Nicole Lund

Girls in Aviation Day Orlando

On Saturday, March 7, 250 girls, along with their chaperones, were hosted by more than 100 WAI volunteers, at Girls in Aviation Day Orlando at Disney’s Coronado Springs Resort. The girls, ages 8-17, visited 20 activity stations, heard about 10 different aviation careers from a career panel, met role models, and simply had fun while they learned about aviation. The older girls had the opportunity to meet with college representatives, including those from U.S. Air Force Academy, California Aeronautical University, Cochise Community College, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, Jacksonville University, Kent State University, Liberty University, Ohio University, St. Louis University, University of Dubuque, University of North Dakota, and more.  Each participant earned a WAI Aviation Girl Fun Patch. 

Other conference highlights include:

  • A total attendance of nearly 4,500 includes 142 international representatives from 31 countries including Nigeria, Canada, Ghana, Australia, Iceland, and others. 
  • The attendees are 70% women and 30% men. 
  • The exhibit hall hosted 180 separate companies and organizations, representing all aspects of the aviation community, including drones.
  • 151 scholarships were distributed to WAI members at every stage of life from for both academic use, lifestyle enhancement, and flight training, including type ratings. A total $831,365 in scholarships was awarded, which put the total scholarships awarded since 1995 to more than $13 million. 

The 32nd Annual International Women in Aviation Conference will be held March 11-13, 2021, at the Reno-Sparks Convention Center in Reno, Nevada. For more information, visit www.wai.org.

View all the video from the WAI Annual Conference in Orlando, including Girls in Aviation Day 2020, the opening Conference video, on the WAI YouTube Channel, WomeninAviationIntl.

SOURCEAero Crew News, April/May 2020
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Women in Aviation International is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the encouragement and advancement of women in all aviation career fields and interests. Our diverse membership includes astronauts, corporate pilots, maintenance technicians, air traffic controllers, business owners, educators, journalists, flight attendants, high school and university students, air show performers, airport managers and many others. We provide year-round resources to assist women in aviation and to encourage young women to consider aviation as a career. WAI also offers educational outreach programs to educators, aviation industry members, and young people nationally and internationally. Our most recent initiative is our Girls in Aviation Day program for girls ages 8 to 17. In addition, WAI promotes public understanding of the accomplishments and contributions of women in aviation. This includes historic notables such as Amelia Earhart, Bessie Coleman, Eileen Collins, Jeana Yeager, Nicole Malachowski and many others. We recognize these women through our WAI Pioneer Hall of Fame program.


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