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Launching the Young Professional Initiative for WAGISA

28 Jun 2024 2:58 PM | Tami Faulkner (Administrator)

Hope those who attended this year’s Washington GIS Conference are still reflecting on the relationships, connections, and ah-ha moments they made over the course of our 2 or 3 days together! If you were there, you had the opportunity to identify yourselves as a Young Professional (less than 5 years GIS experience) or as a seasoned veteran using a gold or purple star sticker. The purpose of this constellation was to invite people to chat and introduce themselves encouraging cross generational networking and meaningful conversations. But this was just the start of our Young Professional focus.

This month we are officially announcing the launch of our Young Professional Initiative (YPI), designed to connect and empower emerging talent in the field of Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Whether you're just starting your career or navigating your first few years in the industry, this initiative is crafted with you in mind. At WAGISA, we recognize the invaluable contributions of young and seasoned professionals to the GIS community. Our initiative is built on two primary goals:

1. Connecting young professionals with jobs resources

2. Increase the long term participation of young professionals in volunteer and board positions.

Throughout the year, we have curated a series of engaging activities tailored specifically for young professionals. Our efforts kicked off with a dynamic Young Professionals Workshop led by WAGISA Board Member and Young Professional Micah Gelber (Navy Region Northwest) and Seasoned Veteran and WAGISA President Christina Chelf, where attendees participated in speed networking, group discussions, and enlightening panel talks. This event not only provided valuable career insights but also fostered a sense of community among the twenty-five enthusiastic participants. Huge thank you to our volunteers and panel members: Dan Miller (Washington Military Department), Tamara Davis (King County GIS Center), Bill Keller (King County GIS Center), Harvey Arnone, (City of Seattle), Kim Rogers (Floyd|Snider), Leslie Carman (Thurston County GeoData) and Josh Popelka (King County GIS Center).

Looking ahead, we are excited to continue our efforts with Virtual Coffee Sessions where young professionals can interact informally with WAGISA board members, gaining advice on career development and industry trends. Additionally, our Lunch and Learn Job Series will offer quarterly discussions on topics ranging from resumes to personal branding, providing practical guidance for professional growth. Our First Lunch & Learn will be hosted by Peter Keum (King County) in July and broadly be about how to network, so those attending the ESRI UC have some opportunity to practice! Finally we are planning an end of year in person social event. We hope all you young professionals out there can attend one or more of these events.

To stay updated on these events and opportunities, we encourage all young professionals to visit our YPI webpage and sign up for email reminders. Whether you're exploring new career avenues or seeking to expand your network, the Young Professional Initiative at WAGISA is here to support you every step of the way. If you are interested in helping plan these events email

Let's build the future of GIS together—one connection, one opportunity at a time. We look forward to seeing you at our upcoming events and witnessing the positive impact of our community's vibrant young talent.

Christina Chelf

WAGISA President

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