Could you tell us a little bit about your education and career path?
I earned my BA in geology from the University of Colorado at Boulder in 1993. I discovered GIS in my senior year when the geology department set up a new computer lab with GIS, CAD, and geologic computing tools. I wrote my senior paper on remote sensing in mineral exploration.
I moved to Reno, Nevada and started working in the gold exploration industry as a geologist/GIS specialist. I learned many different GIS and GIS-related tools, such as MapInfo, ArcView, ER Mapper, databases, and geophysical software. I also took graduate geology courses at the University of Nevada, Reno.
At the 2007 Esri User Conference the keynote speaker was Dr. Wangari Maathai of the Greenbelt Movement – her speech was truly inspiring, and made me realize that I needed to “get out of my box” and do something different. The University of Denver had a graduate program that matched my interests – a blend of Environmental Policy/Management and GIS. I finished my master’s degree in 2011.
That’s when I took on the permitting role at work. It’s been a steep learning curve but has brought me a lot of new experiences and knowledge. Our company’s new focus on ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) and working on habitat conservation projects have renewed my sense of purpose.
Ever since I was a kid I’ve marveled at beautiful maps, and wanted to be a cartographer – that’s probably why I was attracted to geology in the first place – the maps! In 2019 I went to my first North American Cartographic Information Society (NACIS) conference, and realized it was time, yet again, to try something new. I applied to the University of Wisconsin-Madison GISPP program to focus on cartography.