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February 4th, 2020
URISA Announces 2020 Vanguard Cabinet of Young Professionals

URISA is pleased to announce the newest members of its Vanguard Cabinet. The Vanguard Cabinet (VC) is a URISA initiative (which debuted in 2011) to engage young GIS practitioners, increase their numbers in the organization, and better understand the concerns facing these future leaders of the GIS community. The VC is an advisory board who represent the young membership of the organization. The Cabinet’s mission is to collaborate with URISA’s Board of Directors and Committees in creating and promoting programs and policies of benefit to young professionals.

Comprised entirely of passionate young members selected from different geospatial disciplines, the Cabinet aims to position URISA as the center of opportunities for ambitious young professionals who are committed to improving URISA and the geospatial profession via innovation, collaboration, networking, and professional development. Each will serve a three-year term.

2020 URISA Vanguard Cabinet Members:

Josiah Burkett, GIS Analyst, GeoTechVision Enterprises Limited, Kingston, Jamaica: “I’m really excited and looking forward to having a role in URISA where I can lend my expertise to collaborate with other professionals and continue the great work of the past VC members. I intend to increase the awareness of sustainable solutions using GIS and allow young professionals to network and develop their skills within an amazing community.”

Shenyue Jia, Research Fellow, Chapman University, Orange, California: “I look forward to expanding and strengthening URISA’s bond with colleges. I’m also passionate about introducing geospatial tools to untraditional fields of GIS, such as digital humanities.”

Rachel Layko, Dangermond Fellow at the National Audubon Society and Fellow in the Center for Geospatial Analysis, The College of William & Mary Center for Geospatial Analysis, Williamsburg, Virginia: “I am thrilled to have the opportunity to work with and learn from my fellow Vanguard Cabinet members! I am looking forward to connecting students and young professionals to tools and resources to support their career journeys, and I am excited to work with GIS professionals across disciplines to grow mentorship opportunities and spaces for collaboration.”

Harraz Mohd Reza, GIS Technician, Governor’s Office of Information Technology, State of Colorado, Denver, Colorado: “I am so honored to have been selected for the prestigious URISA Vanguard Cabinet. I look forward to increasing the diversity and exclusivity of our organization while increasing our visibility. I’m excited to geek out with fellow peers on all things geospatial and to make new friends and lasting relationships. I love the power of storytelling and believe that every person has a unique story to tell. I cannot wait to hear all of them!”

Frank Romo, Public Safety GIS IV, City of Detroit & CEO at RomoGIS Enterprises, Detroit, Michigan: “I am thrilled to join the Vanguard Cabinet’s group of highly motivated and talented young professionals. This is an exciting opportunity to expand my GIS network and develop strong professional connections around the world. During my time with the Vanguard Cabinet, I intend to support the mentorship program in developing outreach and training materials for future GIS users including those in K-12 educational settings. I am also very excited to present at the upcoming GIS-Pro conferences to pursue my passion for using GIS to advance academic research in the areas of urban planning, public safety and public health.”

Dru Sexton, GIS Specialist, Buckeye Hills Regional Council, Marietta, Ohio: “Joining the Vanguard Cabinet for me is an opportunity to help us strengthen our organization through building strong academic partnerships in an effort to help us bridge the gap between academia and GIS professionals. I also have many ideas that I am eager to share with the organization in hopes of making URISA the very best professional organization to be a part of! I would like to think that we may inspire the next generation of professionals through leading by example!”

Shradha Shrestha, Graduate Research Assistant in NSF INFEWS project, Rochester Institute of Technology, New York: “I am honored and very excited to be a member of URISA’s Vanguard Cabinet of 2020-2023. In my tenure, I would be more focused on motivating young girls in STEM fields, particularly towards geoscience and creating networking opportunities among graduate students of geospatial studies. My long-term goal is to integrate knowledge across various domains (e.g., Machine learning in Natural Resource Management and Urban Ecology) to create a multidisciplinary knowledge base in geo-intelligence.”

Caitlin Thomas, Geospatial Emergency Management Specialist, Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Atlanta, Georgia: “I am grateful for this opportunity to contribute to a collective voice representing young professionals in URISA and in the GIS industry! I hope to encourage participation and engagement among GIS enthusiasts, especially about topics we face frequently as working professionals. I’d also like to help influence the narrative around GIS being an accessible community through initiatives supporting diversity and inclusion. Thank you for the warm welcome to this group of passionate leaders!”

Shivon Van Allen, GIS Technician III, NW Natural, Portland, Oregon: “I am excited to have been selected to join the Vanguard Cabinet and to get to know my fellow Vanguard Cabinet members over the coming years. Participation in URISA through my regional chapter has helped shape my career, develop my GIS skills, and expand my network. I am eager to get to work with the Vanguard Cabinet on projects and initiatives that support other young GIS professionals on a large scale. My interests include expanding GIS content in secondary education, developing resources for emerging professionals, and connecting the Vanguard Cabinet with young professional groups in regional URISA chapters. I am excited for this opportunity and look forward to making a meaningful impact on the next generation of GIS leaders.”

Megan Young, Research Data Specialist II, California Public Utilities Commission, San Francisco, California: “It’s an honor to have the opportunity to serve on this cabinet and collaborate with the other dedicated members of my cohort. During my term, I intend to champion inclusivity and design thinking, and I look forward to further developing the VC’s goals in expanding resources and networking opportunities for young professionals in the geospatial field.”

In addition, Vanguard Cabinet members selected Haley J. Zehentbauer, GIS Analyst, Stark County, Canton, Ohio to serve as VC Chair and Meredith DiMattina, Crime Analyst Supervisor, City of Burlington, North Carolina, to serve as VC Secretary for 2020.

Cabinet members are selected through an application process, with a review by the Vanguard Steering Committee. The application process for 2021 Vanguard Cabinet members will open in October 2020. Learn more about VC activities here: