2023 NACIS Election

Thank you for taking the time to consider the candidates for the NACIS Board of Directors. Please review the candidate bios and then submit a ballot.

NACIS 2023 candidate statements

VP Elect: Vicky Johnson-Dahl

Hi! I’m Vicky Johnson-Dahl, I’m a Senior Geographic Information Officer with WWC Global, a contractor with USAID. I’m also a published author/designer, a mentor, and while I don’t have any fancy honors I have twice been on the Atlas of Design judging panel, which I think makes me an award-awarding cartographer. This is my tenth NACIS conference – my first one was in Pittsburgh, too. It is wonderful to come full circle, a decade later, then as a first time attendee and now as a candidate for VP-Elect.

My career by necessity requires not only cartographic expertise but also a willingness to meet deep, sticky, intractable problems head-on with enthusiasm, openness, and creativity, and I bring that same energy here to NACIS. On a more concrete level, I am a trained and experienced meeting facilitator and producer, which is a real asset to have with regard to developing a coherent, cohesive agenda and keeping attendees – whether it’s a small meeting or a multi-day conference – to schedule while shepherding participants to reach agreements, creating forward motion on action items, and building connections. This sounds like a lot of meaningless business jargon but nevertheless I’m delighted to be able to use these skills here.

NACIS as an organization means a lot to me. I’ve learned so much from my fellow attendees at this conference, it’s more than just a conference to me, it’s a community, an endless source of inspiration, and a platform for forging lasting connections, both professional and personal. I think that everyone should have the opportunity to get as much out of NACIS as I have over the past ten years, and I am committed to fostering these benefits for all. I am committed to cultivating an open and inclusive environment where every member feels valued and empowered to contribute, regardless of their background or experience level or whether they feel “cartographer” enough for their voice to be heard. I also want to build a broader base of society volunteers (…have you ever wanted to do more here? Let’s chat!).

Secretary: Josh Ryan

This year will be the 9th year as a NACIS member for me. It is my favorite conference to attend and I am continually looking for ways to be involved. I was one of the Atlas of Design editors for Volume 6 – a great experience, and I was a new Attendee Ambassador the last 2 years (if you were new and I didn’t talk to you, I’m sorry). As Secretary, I would hope to keep the board meetings running smoothly, keep them well documented for use by the community, and generally help the leadership team in their drive to keep pushing NACIS forwards.

NACIS’ objectives involve a smooth running society. As someone who prizes efficiency and organization in their personal life, I would bring those values to the role of Secretary, endeavoring to support the Leadership and Board Members in all their goals.

Board at Large

Jessi Breen

If elected to the NACIS Board, my primary goal will be to increase outreach initiatives targeting educational institutions without traditional Geography or Cartography departments. Increasingly libraries are being tasked with providing geospatial education programs. I would work to improve and expand NACIS’ outreach efforts to these spaces and the people who work in them. By cultivating closer relationships with these programs and with the librarians and staff who run them, we can help advance NACIS’ objectives and promote the field of cartography to a wider audience.

My background as a geographer and mapmaker working in a university library uniquely qualifies me to address several of NACIS’ core objectives. I have a proven track record in fostering cross-departmental collaboration, which aligns with NACIS’ aim of improving communication among cartographic stakeholders. My experience in developing educational programs directly supports NACIS’ commitment to cartographic literacy and graphicacy and my role in curating a geospatial collection provides valuable insights into the challenges of acquisition and preservation.

Nathaniel Douglass

While on the NACIS board, I hope to further the organization’s objective to foster knowledge sharing for students and eager young professionals. One initiative that would support this goal is by creating a NACIS repository of pre-existing map-making videos, practical cartography demonstrations, and technical tutorials. My hope would be to create an accessible site or set of playlists on the NACIS YouTube channel that acts as a hub for previous talks and tutorials by theme, making it easier for members to access demos and tutorials. 

I have attended the last 8 NACIS conferences and have volunteered throughout the years by speaking and moderating during sessions, giving me experience with annual event coordinating. I’ve been an instructor for a handful of university GIS and cartography courses which has helped me cultivate my communication and planning abilities. Given my experience with NACIS conferences over the years, I’m confident in my understanding of how the organization runs and can be of help in any capacity. Being a recent graduate, I have the desire to make cartographic knowledge sharing and education accessible for anyone looking to better their skills and learn from their peers.

Jen Mapes

1. During my time on the NACIS board I would like to support initiatives already being pursued by NACIS, particularly in terms of enhancing community in the organization both digitally and in person, and supporting efforts towards increased diversity, equity and inclusion. While I’d like to contribute to building a sense of community within NACIS, I am also interested in exploring how NACIS can use our cartographic expertise to reach out to the public, getting people of all ages interested in using and making maps.

2. In terms of building community, I think I’d make a good candidate for connecting different fields of cartography. As a reporter-turned-academic, I’ve developed a broad view of how cartographers in these different career tracks relate to NACIS objectives. I also have experience as a faculty member developing plans to enhance diversity and develop spaces that create a sense of belonging. My expertise is in community geography and working on educational projects that get the public interested in maps and mapping. My projects use maps to broaden dialogues about social and environmental justice, and I recently started a Community Mapping Collaboratory that provides local mapping support and easy-to-access data.

Joanna Merson

I’ve been an enthusiastic participant of NACIS since 2014, first while a grad student and now as Cartographic Developer in a career faculty position at the University of Oregon. I would like to join the NACIS board to give my time back to this organization which has given me such a wonderful professional community. I’d like to help “keep the gears turning” and to contribute to its ongoing momentum and growth.

As a board member, I would formalize and expand on my existing contributions, bringing skills as a practitioner and instructor of cartography, as an experienced NACIS member and ambassador, and an advocate for inclusivity.

I currently support the tech behind Geo-jeopardy and I recently signed on to join the Cartographic Perspectives editorial board, which I am excited to dig into. I believe diversifying the NACIS community is mutually beneficial: it can help bring broader perspectives to the cartographic community as well as to provide learning and networking opportunities to those previously excluded. To achieve this, I have acted as an ambassador to the society by 1) reaching out directly to talented BIPOC cartographers to tell them about the society and inviting them to attend the annual meeting, and 2) by inviting students and securing funding to help them attend. See you in Pittsburgh!

Carl Sack

As a tribal and community college educator, I would like to help NACIS do some outreach to community colleges, tribal colleges, historically black colleges and universities, and Hispanic-serving colleges and universities that have GIS programs. The purpose of this outreach would be to inform these working-class and minority-serving institutions of the highly accessible resources that NACIS has to offer, such as Cartographic Perspectives and our Mentor Program, and to invite them to take part in the NACIS Annual Meeting. Bringing some of these institutions closer to NACIS could benefit them by opening new professional networks and learning opportunities for their students and faculty, and would benefit NACIS by bringing more diverse voices to the organization. As a corollary, I would like to promote teaching at the community college level as a valuable and fulfilling potential career choice for our student members.

I have been making maps professionally since I began graduate school at UW-Madison in 2011. The focus of my cartographic work is resistance mapping and counter-mapping, particularly in regards to natural resource extraction and infrastructure that threatens Indigenous communities. As a graduate student, I developed multiple VGI wikimaps and authored a set of web mapping lab assignments which has since become an open workbook in use across multiple universities. Since becoming the GIS Program Coordinator at Fond du Lac Tribal and Community College in 2017, I have developed a substantial amount of curriculum, including an open introductory GIS workbook. I have also engaged in numerous collaborations to facilitate a pipeline for high school and early college students into geospatial careers. For example, I am on the development team of an ongoing project sponsored by the Indian Land Tenure Foundation (to which NACIS makes an annual donation) to provide summer story mapping internships to teens in Native American communities. Any time I have the opportunity to work with young people, my message is always: Maps are fun AND powerful—and YOU can be empowered by making them!

Christopher Sutton

Serving on the Board will allow me to make a meaningful contribution to the organization and to the fields of cartography and GIS. I hope to work with the NACIS Board and members to develop new programs and initiatives, to advocate for important issues, and to help guide the organization’s growth and development. I view it as an opportunity to give back to the profession. 
I have significant experience in teaching and curriculum development in the field of cartography. With experience in teaching, research, and curriculum development in cartography and GIS, I have a deep understanding of the field and its current trends. I have held various leadership positions, including Department Chairperson, and two terms as President of the Illinois Geographical Society. I am the most recent editor of Goode’s World Atlas (23rd edition) and have experience as an author, co-author, and cartographer for atlases and other publications. I have received several awards and honors, including Illinois Geographical Society’s Distinguished Geographer and Western Illinois University’s Distinguished University Professor.

Student Board Member: Michael Sparks

Hey NACIS! I am a student in Kentucky’s Digital Mapping master’s program. I’m a career changer new to GIS / Cartography and I am excited for the opportunity to serve the NACIS community. I want to bring the tireless energy and wide-eyed enthusiasm of a newbie, be a voice for students, and help build out an early career / education resource center that can serve as the guide I wish I had when I started. 

Although new to NACIS, I’m active in the new Mentorship program and am planning on attending this year’s conference in Pittsburgh. 

Mostly, I’m thrilled at the chance to be deeply involved for many years with a great community focused on something I love.

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Nominees for DIRECTORS AT LARGE were given the following instructions for their self written bios.

Aim for about 100 words
200 total word maximum
1. What would you hope to accomplish during your time on the Board?  If you are seeking re-election of a Board position, please include what you accomplished and how you contributed during your previous term(s) on the Board.  If you have volunteered for NACIS in a non-elected role, or have been involved with NACIS’ initiatives in some way, please include your contributions.
2. What experience and skills would you bring to the Board that would directly impact NACIS’ objectives?

NACIS’ Objectives
·       To improve communication, coordination and cooperation among the producers, disseminators, curators, and users of cartographic information
·       To support and coordinate activities with other professional organizations and institutions involved with cartographic information
·       To improve the use of cartographic materials through education and to promote graphicacy
·       To promote and coordinate the acquisition, preservation, and automated retrieval of all types of cartographic material, and
·       To influence government policy on cartographic information