Catherine Karakatsanis, P.Eng., FEC, FCAE, chief operating officer of Morrison Hershfield, has been named a Companion of the Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) Order of Honour, and was inducted into the Order at an April 21 gala in Thunder Bay.
An admired leader and champion of diversity, she has overseen major Canadian engineering advocacy and regulatory bodies. She is the only engineer in Canada to have led a provincial regulator (PEO), the provincial engineering advocacy body (Ontario Society of Professional Engineers [OSPE]) and the national engineering body (Engineers Canada).
The Order of Honour pays tribute to individuals who have rendered conspicuous service to the engineering profession. The Order of Honour’s highest distinction, the rank of Companion, recognizes contributions that exceed those of Officer. It is reserved exclusively for individuals whose distinguished service has profoundly influenced the profession.
And Karakatsanis has greatly influenced the profession as a devoted advocate for creating a more diverse profession. She worked hard to promote engineering to young people and increase the number of women engineers during her tenure as president and chair of the Ontario Society of Professional Engineers in 2002-2003.
She then went on to lead or serve on dozens of PEO committees and task forces, ultimately guiding the association in the 2009-2010 council term as the fourth woman to be elected president.
During her presidency, she inspired PEO to become a world leader in self-regulation—a vision the current council continues to live up to. She also influenced the most significant changes to the Professional Engineers Act since 1984. These changes harmonized PEO requirements with national requirements, made the act and PEO’s processes clearer and more transparent, and eliminated the Canadian citizenship or permanent residency requirement for licensure.
As president of Engineers Canada, she worked closely with the provincial regulators to deliver national programs that continue to have a positive impact on the profession and its public profile. She urges all engineers to get involved as volunteers to help further the profession.
“You will also get back much more than you give,” she says. “Besides the satisfaction, the more involved you get, the bigger your network grows, the more skills you will obtain, and the more opportunities will present themselves.”