A decade ago, a small group of professionals collaborated to build a community of interest for the burgeoning GEOINT discipline. They came together with industry, government, and academia to host a small event, which was more successful than they could have imagined. Shortly thereafter, on Jan. 22, 2004, they incorporated the United States Geospatial Intelligence Foundation (USGIF) as a 501(c)(3) educational non-profit—formalizing their mission to unite all stakeholders to support the growing need for actionable geospatial intelligence.

Kevin Meiners, then director of Intelligence Strategies, Assessments, and Technologies with the Office of the Under Secretary of Defense (Intelligence), and now Assistant Director of National Intelligence for Acquisition, Technology, and Facilities, addresses the audience at GEOINT 2004.

Ten years later, USGIF has transformed from a budding idea to an integral part of the defense, intelligence, and homeland security communities. USGIF has grown to encompass a world-class symposium, regular networking events, technical workshops, training opportunities, educational initiatives, and much more, all of which build upon the Foundation’s three strategic pillars: build the community, advance the tradecraft, and accelerate innovation.

“The GEOINT industry has seen tremendous growth in the last decade,” said Stu Shea, USGIF founder and chairman of the board of directors. “University programs are much more prevalent and technology has evolved at a rapid pace. There isn’t a day that goes by where GEOINT isn’t referenced in the media—we have become more mainstream. GEOINT is a force to be reckoned with. It is now a legitimate intelligence discipline that underpins much of what happens in other intelligence disciplines.”

The Foundation has grown from seven founding companies to nearly 240 member organizations. The annual GEOINT Symposium has flourished from a small gathering of senior leaders into the largest intelligence event in the United States.

USGIF plans the Symposium and other events with the help of volunteers from its five committees and nine working groups, which unite community members around specific topics of interest.

In 2012, the Foundation further rallied the GEOINT Community with the launch of its official magazine, trajectory. The magazine positions USGIF as a thought leader on all matters GEOINT, and explores how the discipline is engaged in myriad national security issues.

USGIF Founder Stu Shea presents one of the very first USGIF scholarships. To date, USGIF has awarded $691,000 in scholarships.

The Foundation’s academic programs include accrediting colleges and universities to grant GEOINT certificates—to date, more than 350 students have earned a GEOINT certificate from one of the eight USGIF-accredited programs. The USGIF scholarship program has grown to award $100,000 annually to deserving students, and to date, USGIF has awarded nearly $700,000. Each year, USGIF also recognizes the exceptional work of the GEOINT Community’s brightest minds through its USGIF Awards Program.

Over the past year, USGIF has initiated the establishment of an individual professional certification program that will encompass the broad range of geospatial science and technology competencies required of contemporary GEOINT practitioners.

With all the Foundation has accomplished in its first decade, USGIF members, staff, and stakeholders eagerly look forward to what the next 10 years have in store.

“It’s been an incredibly exciting and rewarding run for USGIF, growing from a simple idea to a robust organization which has firmly established itself,” said Keith Masback, the Foundation’s chief executive officer. “What’s even more exciting is what the future holds, and how much we’re going to be able to accomplish given the capacity we’ve generated thanks to the enduring support of our members and our talented, dedicated staff.”

Featured image: Attendees at USGIF events have the opportunity to engage with exhibitors through sessions such as interoperability demonstrations.

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