AAAE Women in Aviation Scholarship

The Women in Aviation Scholarship was established to support the educational pursuits of outstanding female students enrolled in aviation programs. Since 2015, the AAAE Foundation has raised over $1.2 million and created a total of six Women in Aviation Scholarships, each with an annual $5,000 award.

Recipients must be a full time student with a junior class standing or above or a graduate student, who is enrolled in an aviation program and has a grade point average of 3.5 or higher.

Since 2016, AAAE has awarded 21 Women in Aviation scholarships totaling $105,000 to deserving future aviation leaders. In 2023, we will award six more Women in Aviation scholarships totaling an additional $30,000 in higher education support for women pursuing careers in the aviation field.

Learn More:

Linda Hall Daschle | 2017 Honoree

The daughter of an aircraft mechanic, Daschle became the first woman to serve as acting FAA administrator.

Daschle got her first aviation job at a FAA flight service station while attending Kansas State University. She later joined the Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) as deputy regional director and then regional director in their Kansas City office. She was transferred to Washington, D.C., and promoted to head the agency's congressional and consumer affairs office.

In 1993, she was nominated by President Bill Clinton and confirmed by the U.S. Senate to be deputy administrator of the Federal Aviation Administration. She became the first female as FAA acting administrator in 1996 before returning to the private sector in 1997 with the Washington office of Baker, Donelson, Bearman and Caldwell. In 2008, she started an aviation consulting practice, LHD & Associates, Inc., a company she led until her retirement in 2018.

Daschle currently serves on the board of Aireon LLC, EG Acquisition Corporation, the National Air and Space Museum and is a member of the FAA's Management Advisory Council.

Gina Adams | 2018 Honoree

Gina Adams is the Senior Vice President for Government Affairs at FedEx Corporation. She is responsible for shaping and promoting the interests of all FedEx Corporation operating companies. Gina works with Administration officials, members of Congress, the diplomatic community and industry associations on domestic and international commerce and transportation issues. She began her career as a lawyer at the U.S. Department of Transportation, joined FedEx in 1992 and is a two-time recipient of the FedEx Five Star Award, the company’s highest employee achievement award. Gina is a strong supporter of education, is extremely active in the Washington, DC community and sits on a number of boards including: American University Board of Governors; Howard University School of Law Board of Visitors; Alvin Ailey American Dance Theater; Town Hall Education Arts & Recreational Campus (THEARC); National Museum of Women in the Arts; and the Economic Club of Washington.

Trish Gilbert | 2018 Honoree

Trish Gilbert serves as the International Federation of Air Traffic Controllers' Association (IFATCA) Executive Vice President Americas.

Previously she served 12 years (4-terms) as the National Air Traffic Controllers Association’s  (NATCA) Executive Vice President. During her time in that position she helped lead and oversee NATCA’s comprehensive efforts to build successful working relationships with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Transportation (DOT), the aviation industry, the AFL-CIO, and members of the U.S. Congress that resulted in excellent progress on aviation safety.  Her efforts included serving on many boards and committees: the FAA’s Drone Advisory Committee (DAC), the FAA/NATCA Collaborative Steering Committee, the Aero Club of Washington Board of Governors, the National Aeronautic Association Board of Directors, Director of the NATCA Charitable Foundation, the Vice Chair of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) Air Traffic Services Committee and IFATCA's representative to the Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems panel (RPASP) at the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). For IFATCA she also served on IFATCA’s Equity, Diversity and Inclusion Task Force, the Constitution and Administration Committee (CAC) and the Finance Committee (FIC). Trish also sat on the AFL-CIO Political Committee, Legislative/Policy Committee, and the Committee on Women Workers. She is also the former Labor Chair of the FAA National Employee Involvement Committee, which was tasked with modeling collaborative behavior, providing leadership, sharing best practices, and developing templates regarding pre-decisional involvement and cooperation.   

In May 2020, U.S. Secretary of Transportation appointed Trish to the newly-formed Women in Aviation Advisory Board (WIAAB). Pursuant to Section 612 of the FAA Reauthorization Act of 2018, the WIAAB was established to develop strategies and recommendations that would encourage women and girls to enter the field of aviation. In March 2022, the WIAAB transmitted the Report “Breaking Barriers for Women in Aviation: Flight Plan for The Future” to the FAA Administrator and the U.S. Congress.    
By trade and passion Trish is an air traffic controller and worked 21 years at Houston Center (ZHU) prior to serving U.S. air traffic controllers as their EVP.  At ZHU she served in many activist roles within the union including Facility Representative, Southwest Region Chair of NATCA’s National Legislative Committee and Chair of the National Legislative Committee. She also chaired NATCA’s National Organizing Committee, served as NATCA Charitable Foundation Vice President and then, the Foundation’s President. 

Claudia B. Holliway | 2018 Honoree

Claudia B. Holliway served as Vice President and National Aviation Business Development Lead for Michael Baker International prior to her passing in 2017. Claudia was a respected leader and mentor in the aviation industry.  She served as one of the first corporate members of the AAAE Board of Directors and as a member of the Academic Affairs Committee, where she mentored students in the early stages of their careers in the aviation industry. She was also a proud member of the Southeast Chapter of AAAE, active in all of the AAAE regional chapters conferences and events and an avid volunteer with AAAE and her community. Claudia received the AAAE Leadership Award in 2017, was twice named the Corporate Member of the Year by the Southeast Chapter of AAAE, received the Georgia Airports Association President’s Award in 2017 and the Society of American Engineers Regional Vice President’s Medal for meritorious service in 2002. 

Sharon Pinkerton | 2019 Honoree

Sharon Pinkerton was named Senior Vice President, Legislative and Regulatory Policy for Airlines for America (A4A) in February 2011, and leads policy development on legislative and regulatory matters, working with Capitol Hill and the administration. Pinkerton joined A4A as Vice President, Government Affairs in April 2006, where she was responsible for overseeing all aviation-related issues before federal, state and local governments. Before joining A4A, she served as Assistant Administrator for Aviation Policy, Planning and Environment at the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Prior to her appointment at FAA, Pinkerton was transportation counsel to House Aviation Subcommittee Chairman John L. Mica (R-Fla.) and served on Capitol Hill for nearly 10 years. She began her professional career at Price Waterhouse.

Sara Nelson | 2023 Honoree

Sara Nelson has served as the International President of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO since 2014, representing 50,000 of aviation’s first responders at 19 airlines. She has been a union Flight Attendant since 1996 when she started flying at United Airlines. Sara designed the successful payroll support program that was a historic Worker’s First relief program that kept aviation workers connected to their paychecks, healthcare, and other benefits for 16 months during the COVID pandemic, while banning stock buybacks and dividends across the industry and capping executive compensation for 2 years after the relief period ends. Sara believes Labor should set the agenda every time.  

The New York Times called her "America's most powerful flight attendant" for her role in helping to end the 35-day Government Shutdown, InStyle Magazine placed her on their Top 50 Badass Women list, and Fast Company put her on the cover of their Summer 2021 magazine with the headline, “Workers Strike Back.” Sara often says corporations have money and control but workers have power, and the Labor Movement is for all working people. She encourages women everywhere to join unions and run unions. She believes Flight Attendants can play a pivotal role in building worker power with more public contact than almost any other job and connectivity around the world.

2016
Leonia Hunt, Florida Institute of Technology
Women in Aviation Scholarship

2017
Michelle Bassanesi, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Women in Aviation Scholarship

Wambui Mburu, Oklahoma State University
Linda Hall Daschle Scholarship

2018
Kailey Hetzel, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Women in Aviation Scholarship

Michelle Bassanesi, Hult International Business School
Linda Hall Daschle Scholarship

2019
Marta Monteiro, Bridgewater State College
Women in Aviation Scholarship

Leonia Hunt, Florida Institute of Technology
Linda Hall Daschle Scholarship

Kasey Stevenson, Arizona State University
Gina Adams Scholarship

Olha Karikh, Louisiana Tech University
Trish Gilbert Scholarship

Patrycja Krzystyniak, Lewis University
Claudia B. Holliway Scholarship