It’s 2019 and the transition to a new year is metaphorical for the change that has occurred at USGIF over the past six months. Like the promise of a new year, the shift at USGIF similarly creates opportunity for new faces, fresh perspectives, and innovative approaches. What will not change is the Foundation’s clarity of mission and purpose, and the associated focused resolve that our members and partners expect and deserve.

As part of this evolution, after more than a decade at the helm of USGIF, I’m moving on. Despite the deeply rewarding and genuinely enjoyable nature of my position, my family obligations made it increasingly clear that I needed to make the difficult decision to depart the Foundation. The loss of my wife, Allison, in 2016 following her brave fight with a long illness, changed the dynamic of my efforts to balance living in Northern NJ and working in Northern VA. This dueling geography challenged my ability to be the kind of father I want to be, and although we’d successfully launched our four sons off to college, our daughter remains at home as a junior in high school. I need to be present for her, and now I will be.

Despite the deeply rewarding and genuinely enjoyable nature of my position, my family obligations made it increasingly clear that I needed to make the difficult decision to depart the Foundation.

As I often say with regard to my somewhat circuitous career path, it’s sometimes better to be lucky than good. (Of course, being both is nice as well.)  I feel incredibly lucky to have been part of the USGIF team, providing leadership for and contributing to the maturation and expansion of the GEOINT Community, and in turn, our nation’s security.

Upon my arrival in early 2008, I was asked by the USGIF Board of Directors to lead the organization on a path from “a Symposium with a Foundation attached to it, to a Foundation which accomplishes a number of things, to include a world-class Symposium.” Together, we’ve achieved this and so much more. The Foundation’s success is truly the GEOINT Community’s success. The myriad people and organizations responsible for this are united by a single underlying theme: selflessness.

In 10 years, I’ve never promised an executive at a member company that their engagement with USGIF would result in a contract award. I’ve never promised a volunteer that their career would be advanced by participating in a USGIF committee or working group. I’ve never provided government or military speakers at our events with anything more than a sincere thank you and a challenge coin. And the small USGIF staff works tirelessly, maximizing our organizational efficiency and effectiveness while remaining relentlessly dedicated to our members and the mission. Our Community has bought in to the broad philanthropic vision of the Foundation since the organization’s inception in 2004.

The return on investment of time and treasure by our members, volunteers, speakers, and writers continues to be the ascendance of GEOINT as an intelligence discipline, and its growth outside of the traditional defense, intelligence, and homeland security arenas into a broad swath of verticals in the global economy. As I’ve said often in the past 12 to 18 months—there has never been a more exciting time to be a GEOINTer.

The Foundation’s success is truly the GEOINT Community’s success. The myriad people and organizations responsible for this are united by a single underlying theme: selflessness.

I’m sincerely grateful to have been a part of this journey, and to contribute to the progress we’ve made to date. Thank you to the USGIF staff as well as to my many mentors, colleagues, partners, and supporters. This decidedly isn’t goodbye. I remain a dedicated member of this Community, a Lifetime Member of USGIF, and a member of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.

Penning my last Vantage Point column for trajectory, a publication we conceived, launched, and nurtured during my time at USGIF, and into which I’ve invested a tremendous amount of time and energy, is indeed bittersweet.

I’m deeply appreciative to all of you for the privilege to play an integral role in the first 15 years of the Foundation’s existence, and I’m excited about what lies ahead. Thank you.

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Posted by Keith J. Masback, USGIF CEO