The Value of Volunteers

Recognizing the incredible contributions USGIF volunteers bring to the Foundation


One of the distinctive underpinnings of a nonprofit organization is its engagement with—and quite often dependence upon—volunteers to create and sustain its ability to meet its objectives. Over time, I’ve taken the opportunity in myriad public forums, including this space in trajectory, to acknowledge and show my sincere appreciation for the significant contributions of USGIF volunteers.

Dating back to the formation of the Foundation, when now COO Aimee McGranahan was the first and only paid staff member, volunteers were integral to the creation of the bylaws, the planning and execution of events, and the establishment of the first accreditation standards for the Collegiate Accreditation Program. 

Even as the Foundation’s full-time staff has grown to 15, we are humbled by the work our volunteers perform on our Board of Directors, Academic Advisory and Certification Governance Boards, working groups, and committees.

John Westcott was a dedicated supporter of USGIF and the broader GEOINT Community.

Recently, two things occurred that caused me to pause and reflect on the value of USGIF volunteers. The first was the passing of John Westcott, an iconic GEOINT professional. John’s federal service consisted of more than 37 years as an employee of the CIA and the National Imagery and Mapping Agency. He worked an additional 10 years as an employee of Boeing before entering into professional consulting.

John was a ubiquitous part of the GEOINT Community. He was a regular attendee and animated contributor at USGIF Planning Committee meetings. John supported our events, large and small. As I mentioned at our most recent GEOINTeraction Tuesday event, I’m not sure in the nine years I’ve hosted that particular series I recall not seeing John in the front row, ready to engage that evening’s speaker.

I will miss John’s wry smile and sincere counsel. USGIF will miss John’s insightful input. The GEOINT Community will miss John’s deep professional experience and his important role as a consummate connector. From the inception of the concept of GEOINT in 2003, John was all-in, and our Foundation and profession are significantly better because of him.

Another recent moment that caused me to reflect was when our Scholarship Subcommittee chair, Neil Billingsley of S2 Analytical Solutions, forwarded this year’s nominations. Neil humbly requested—after 11 years on the Committee, including the last nine as chair—that he take some time off and cede the opportunity to someone new. It’s hard for me to articulate the depth of my sincere appreciation for that level of dedication and commitment to the USGIF mission. Every GEOINTer should thank Neil, and the many other Foundation volunteers who exemplify the very best our Community has to offer.

The next wave of volunteers might even be included in this issue of trajectory. Once again, we’ve endeavored to serve up a rich offering of relevant and interesting content to inform, educate, and stimulate discussion—including the announcement of USGIF’s 2017 scholarship recipients. This issue also features an important discussion of weather as it pertains to GEOINT, and a fantastic interview with legendary retired Maj. Gen. “Rosie” Rosenberg. Finally, click here to view our first special edition of trajectory, focused on GEOINT for first responders, and share it with colleagues in those professions.

I look forward to seeing you in the halls of USGIF and at our array of GEOINT Community Week events in November, including our GEOGala—the Community’s annual reunion and celebration.

Featured image: USGIF’s Small Business Advisory Working Group, which is made up of volunteers, hosted a panel discussion at the GEOINT 2016 Symposium.

Posted in: Vantage Point   Tagged in: 2017 Issue 4

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Looking Back, Looking Forward

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