Passion for GEOINT and dedication to advancing their careers make Gabriela Maldonado and Jennifer Stansall successful leaders in the GEOINT Community. At the ages of 28 and 33, respectively, these young women have already made a breakthrough in their careers by devoting time to USGIF’s Young Professionals Group (YPG) and Young Professionals Working Group (YPWG). Now, they also have been named to USGIF’s Board of Directors.
Both Maldonado and Stansall have been involved with YPG since 2011, planning and attending networking events and service projects for the group.
“[The Board is] a great opportunity to be in this position with other great leaders giving input for the Community,” Maldonado said. “I knew I wanted to take a leading role and be a voice for the YPG. This is a great opportunity because, later down the road, the current young professionals are going to be the leaders, and we’ll be the ones mentoring young professionals and shaping GEOINT.”
Neither new Board member originally expected to end up with a career in the GEOINT Community. It wasn’t until they both spoke with their college geography departments that they found geographic information studies (GIS) to be an interesting and exciting field.
Maldonado began her career at Penn State University, earning in 2006 a bachelor’s degree in geography with a focus on GIS, and in 2008, a master’s in geography with statistical analysis from Ohio State University. She previously worked for Esri, and is currently a senior consultant at Booz Allen Hamilton. In this role, she works closely with the Department of Homeland Security, applying GEOINT development expertise to the department’s mission.
Stansall in 2002 graduated from the University of Colorado Boulder with a bachelor’s degree in geography with a focus on GIS and remote sensing. A year later, she began her career at DigitalGlobe. Stansall, who is currently celebrating her 10th year with the company, is a senior account manager, responsible for developing and managing DigitalGlobe’s Global Strategic Alliance partners serving both commercial and defense and intelligence markets.
“Learning occurs through both good and trying times,” Stansall said when asked what aspiring GEOINT professionals should keep in mind while thinking about their careers. “Sometimes it can be hard to say ‘yes’ to change, or the unknown, but take on new challenges and experiences. It may help direct your career path in ways you didn’t realize at the time. Pursue what interests you, work hard, and have fun.”
When the women are not busy collaborating with the Board or networking and volunteering with fellow young professionals, they enjoy keeping active. As a Colorado native, Stansall loves to snowboard, go running, and spend time with family and friends. Maldonado said she keeps busy by hiking, listening to music, and planning her upcoming wedding.
Looking to the future, Stansall and Maldonado both said they plan to remain at their current jobs and continue to build relationships, empower users, and show others the value of the GEOINT tradecraft.
Maldonado and Stansall’s advice to fellow young professionals and those studying GEOINT: Be open to new experiences and always push yourself to be your best.
Featured image: Gabriela Maldonado and Jennifer Stansall, both members of USGIF’s Young Professionals Working Group, are also now members of the Foundation’s Board of Directors.