Looking Back, Looking Forward

Reflecting on the past six months’ journey and previewing what’s to come


As we turn the calendar today, July 1st means we are already halfway through 2022. Heading into the Independence Day weekend, I’d like to share with our GEOINT community some thoughts on how 2022 has shaped up for USGIF so far, and provide a preview of what we have in store for the rest of the year.

Team USGIF started the year with a laser focus on planning for the GEOINT 2022 Symposium in Denver, Colorado. We channeled the momentum built from the October 2021 Symposium in St Louis directly into delivering a stellar Symposium in April, where we gathered for the first time in Aurora, Colorado. And wow! What an amazing event that was. From the interesting and educational programming to the novel training to the vibrant exhibit hall abuzz with demonstrations and building connections to the opportunities to meet and reconnect with each other during the networking events—I cannot remember a GEOINT Symposium that had better energy and content than GEOINT 2022.

In the first half of 2022, USGIF Working Groups continued to highlight the thought leadership inherent in our community. Several working groups hosted guest speakers who shared their insights, helping to build stronger bonds throughout the community and informing topics for future programming. If you haven’t yet had a chance to read the white paper published in April on Reimagining Unclassified Work and Platforms that was a collaborative effort including a cross section of members throughout the GEOINT community and several USGIF working groups, I encourage you to do so.

We also began the transition to our new member structure, which is effective as of today. We received great feedback from the community as we rolled out the membership restructure—which was based on member feedback. So thank you for engaging with us on that!

Another highlight of the year was the “Navigating the GEOINT Landscape” event hosted by USGIF in coordination with our Young Professionals Group, which happened this past Wednesday evening at our beautiful Trajectory Event Center (the “TEC”) in Herndon, Virginia. We began the evening with a panel of leaders from the community sharing their perspectives and offering fantastic advice on how to successfully navigate recruiting and hiring activities and effectively build and leverage networks, and then the participants broke out into mentoring sessions on resume writing, interviewing techniques, and effective in-person and online networking. This was our first fully in-person event at the TEC since the start of the pandemic, and we were thrilled to bring together GEOINT professionals (both young and not so young) with mentors from across our community who offered them tips and made them aware of upcoming opportunities. We often hear about “the war for talent” and based on what we saw last night…our community’s talent pipeline includes tremendously promising future teammates. I was proud to greet two former USGIF interns who are now employed as full time GEOINTers. Additionally, one rising sophomore from Xavier University drove from Cincinnati, Ohio just to attend the event, and I loved watching him “work the room” discussing possible internships, seeking advice, and making new connections in the community.

As we look ahead to the second half of 2022, I’m excited that we’re kicking off our “GEOINT Service Days” again later this month, with the GEOINT Service Day for Air Force and Space Force on Wednesday, July 27th. We’ll hold this event in person at the TEC, and registration is open. We’ll continue that series later this fall, on October 19th for the day dedicated to the Navy and Marine Corps which will be held at NGA in Springfield, VA, and return to NGA for the Army Day on February 23rd next year. These events are a great opportunity for our members to connect with the Services, hear from senior leaders about where they’re headed and how they need GEOINT to get them there, and to better understand their “hard problems” and technical needs. We hope to see you there!

We’re also continuing the “Mission Focus” series we began in 2021, with a fantastic event planned for August 24th in Falls Church, Virginia. “Mission Focus: GEOINT at the Speed of Need” will include an amazing keynote speaker (stay tuned for that announcement very soon!) and a panel of government and industry executives who will address what it takes to deliver GEOINT products and services with speed and agility to the point of need. Registration for this event will open next week…so I hope you all hit “register” for this free event as soon as the announcement hits your inbox.

Later this year, we’ll hold a two-day GEOINT Community Forum on “Operationalizing Artificial Intelligence.” That event will take place on November 29 (unclassified day) and 30th (classified day) at NGA in Springfield, and we’re working alongside our AI/ML Working Group to assemble an allstar line up of speakers and panels. That same week, on December 1st, we’ll hold the 2022 GeoGala honoring the 2022 Lundahl-Finnie Lifetime Achievement Award recipient, Letitia A. Long at the Ritz-Carlton in Tyson’s Corner, Virginia. I am so thrilled that the Foundation selected Tish for this year’s award, as she has been such an important trailblazer, a tremendous advocate for GEOINT, and a steadfast champion of diversity and inclusion. I know this event will sell out quickly, as so many in our community will want to be there to celebrate Tish and her myriad contributions to our great nation. Tickets for the GeoGala will be available in mid-August, and sponsorships and tables are currently available.

And speaking of our great nation, I hope everyone enjoys the upcoming Independence Day holiday. I know there are many challenges we face as a nation, with many divisive and difficult issues at the forefront of the headlines every day. As complex and heartrending as these issues are, I am nevertheless thankful to live in a nation where our ability to engage in civil discourse or protest is at the heart of what we stand for. So amidst the parades, picnics, and fireworks of the day, I for one will reflect on all that is great and positive about our nation, and I hope you have the opportunity to do the same.

Featured Image (left to right): Booz Allen Hamilton Principal Patrick Biltgen and USGIF CEO Ronda Schrenk chat with Xavier University Sophomore Cole Waymeyer during the “Navigating the GEOINT Career Landscape” event on June 29. Waymeyer drove from Cincinnati for the event.

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