Catherine Ella, Sc’82, is an esteemed alumna of Queen’s University’s Faculty of Engineering and Applied Science. Her dedication to her field and alma mater is evident through her remarkable professional achievements and philanthropic contributions. Catherine’s involvement in coordinating class reunions and ski trips combined with a strong bond with her classmates and desire to make a positive impact, led her to continually support her two class funds: The Science 1982 Fund, which helps enhance the engineering student experience, and The Science 1982 Award, which is granted on the basis of financial need and academic achievement to students in any year or program of study in Smith Engineering at Queen's. Her generous donations have helped to empower the next generation of engineers and foster innovation within our community.

Catherine’s journey with Queen’s started in the late 1970s when she pursued a degree in Mechanical Engineering. She says, “Fun fact: When I went into Mechanical in 2nd year - there were 12 women. And I believe with approximately 60 graduates, more women graduated from Queen's in engineering in 1982 than they did in Nursing!” After graduating from Queen’s University, Catherine embarked on a successful professional career, from receiving her MBA in 1998 to working on large infrastructure projects, including nuclear-generating stations, hi-tech facilities, and iconic public sector real estate projects. She is now the principal owner of Ella Advisory Services and has established herself as a leader, continuing to make significant contributions to her field. 


Catherine is part of a core group within Sc’82 that has helped to organize and fundraise over the 45 years they have known each other. When asked about her dedication to reunion organizing and her motivation for giving, Catherine says, “I continue to do it for one reason. My class shows up. Every time. And boy, do we have fun! For all those great reasons to come back - donning our jackets (if they can fit), walking familiar paths (and unfamiliar!) through campus, checking out favourite (and now unrecognizable) student housing addresses - we come back for each other AND to engage with the current crop of students.  We know we were so lucky to have enduring friendships, and when we get to campus for Homecoming (and other events) - we hope those students are inspired by us.”

Catherine’s philanthropic support has made a lasting impact on Queen’s University and Smith Engineering at Queen's. “My philanthropy is a mixture of my time, energy, and dollars. We have two class funds, and my modest contributions are always directed to these funds. Over the years, I've been so pleased to see how the funds have been spent - from the Wellness Week to the renovation of the Tea Room to new equipment at the ILC,” she says. “In 2022, at our 40th, I met some of the recipients of the Sc’82 Award (at the renovated Tea Room) who were able to describe the impact of the fund's disbursement personally. The Sc’82 funds will never fund a new building, pool, or sports field - but they will make a difference in student life, and that is so appropriate given that we thoroughly enjoyed our lives as students.”

Catherine’s commitment to Queen’s and the faculty serves as an inspiration to both current and future students. Through her philanthropic support and involvement with the faculty and our students, Catherine continues to shape the future of engineering education and inspire generations to come.