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Vanguard Cabinet of Young GIS Professionals

URISA's young professional members have taken the association by storm!

From managing a mentoring program and supporting student competitions to serving as committee leaders and conference chairs, and even being elected to the URISA Board of Directors, these professionals  are the NextGen GIS leaders, providing valuable direction and enthusiasm to the community.

The Vanguard Cabinet (VC), a URISA initiative, is an advisory board made up of passionate, young* geospatial professionals who strive to engage young practitioners, increase their numbers in the organization, and better understand the concerns facing these future leaders of the geospatial community. The VC's mission is to collaborate with URISA’s Board of Directors and URISA committees in creating and promoting programs and policies of benefit to young professionals and to enhance overall innovation, collaboration, networking, and professional development opportunities.

* 35 years of age or younger

2020 URISA Vanguard Cabinet Applications Process Opens 

2020 University Student and Young Professional Digital Competition Announced  

URISA Mentor Program    

2020-2023 Vanguard Cabinet Application - due on or before August 2, 2020:

Have Questions? Learn more on Wednesday, July 29 at 6:30 Eastern/5:30 Central/4:30 Mountain/3:30 Pacific time during an open Q&A discussion hosted by current VC members. Set up a reminder in your calendar and join the Zoom discussion on Wednesday.

  • Request a letter of reference from a colleague, supervisor, mentor or instructor and locate/update your resume as both items are required uploads with your application.
  • Complete the online application form which includes your contact information, your experience with URISA and/or other organizations, and how you would like to contribute to the Vanguard Cabinet's mission.  
  • Applications will be reviewed by URISA’s Leadership Development Committee.  If selected, the appointment is a three-year commitment beginning after GIS-Pro 2020 (October) through GIS-Pro 2023.  

Announcing the 2020 University Student and Young Professional Digital Competition


URISA’s Vanguard Cabinet is proud to host the fourth annual Digital Competition to promote the GIS profession and attendance of young and emerging professionals at GIS-Pro 2020. The competition will be held virtually prior to the conference, and the top three presenters will be awarded a GIS-Pro registration and the opportunity to present their work in conjunction with GIS-Pro 2020.

The competition is limited to projects that utilize web and mobile platforms, such as ArcGIS Online, Tableau, Mapbox, or Power BI. Projects should showcase the visualization functions of these platforms while also demonstrating knowledge and proficiency in spatial analytics, cartographic design, and/or geospatial techniques.

To enter the competition, participants must submit a link to their virtual project and include a 150 to 300-word project abstract detailing the project design, analysis, and implementation. Selected entries will deliver an ignite-style presentation via Zoom on their project’s use of an online visualization platform, geospatial technology, and spatial thinking. The presentations will be judged by a panel of URISA leaders, and based on the judges’ assessments, three presenters will be selected to present their work in conjunction with GIS-Pro 2020.



  • Must be enrolled in a college or university, or
  • Be a recent graduate (spring or summer 2020), or
  • Be a young or emerging geospatial professional with fewer than five years of experience
  • Must be available to attend GIS-Pro 2020.

Submission Materials

  • A current resume, including
    • Graduation date or expected date for college students, and
    • Description of GIS-related work experience
  • Link to the project website or visualizations
  • Project abstract (150-300 words)
  • Submit materials to urisa.vc@gmail.com by July 31.

Selection Criteria

  • Meet submission and selection deadlines
  • Project must be from an individual (no group projects)
  • Project utilizes a web or mobile geospatial visualization platform, including but not limited to ArcGIS Online, Tableau, Mapbox, or Power BI


  • Participants: Presenters selected to participate in the live digital completion will receive either a one-year URISA Student membership or a one-year URISA Young Professional membership, depending on each presenter’s educational status. Note: Participants must present in the digital showcase to receive this award.
  • Winners: The top three presenters will also receive complimentary registration to GIS-Pro 2020.


  • Abstract submissions due July 31, 2020
  • Results/Invitations to participate in Digital Showcase announced during the week of August 10, 2020
  • Confirmation of Digital Showcase participation and presentations due August 17, 2020 
  • Digital Showcase: TBD (tentatively during the last week of August) 


Announcing the URISA Mentor Program

The URISA Mentor Program seeks to foster mutually beneficial relationships between Young Professionals (YPs) and seasoned veterans in the field.  Learn more and sign up today!


  • an experienced and trusted adviser:synonyms adviser, guide, confidant, confidantecounselor, ...


  • advise or train (someone, especially a younger colleague):"both trainees were expertly mentored by a site supervisor"

Meet the 2020 Vanguard Cabinet 

Click below to launch the Vanguard Cabinet Story Map:

  • 2020 Vanguard Cabinet Chair: Haley Zehentbauer
  • 2020 Vanguard Cabinet Secretary: Meredith DiMattina



Podcasts: DirectionsMag has partnered with URISA's Vanguard Cabinet to bring you a collection of podcasts and resources to enhance your professional development.  Check out the ever-expanding list of podcasts here

Rachel Rodriguez Announced as 2019 Young Professional of the Year

Meet the 2019-2020 URISA Vanguard Cabinet

Announcing the 2018 Young Professional of the Year, Tory Elmore

Meet the 2018-2019 URISA Vanguard Cabinet

Meet the 2017-2018 Vanguard Cabinet

Join URISA as a Young Professional - discounted membership dues rate!

“As a young professional, URISA's GIS-Pro allowed me to network with a variety of professionals in my field as well as creating opportunities for me to volunteer, present, and get involved in ways I couldn't have imagined. I would not be where I'm at, in my career, without GIS-Pro and the URISA community!”

- Kari Leer, Valparaiso, Indiana (Vanguard Cabinet, 2014-15)

URISA Young Professional of the Year:

  • 2018: Tory Elmore
  • 2017: Kara Utter
  • 2016: Daniel Behnke, GISP
  • 2015: Kari Chael
  • 2014: Wendy Peloquin, GISP
  • 2013: Ryan Bowe, GISP
  • 2012: Diana Rodriguez
  • 2011: Ashley Hitt, GISP

Contact: urisa.vc@gmail.com   Follow us: @URISAVC

Current Initiatives:


"The expertise my mentor shared with me through the URISA mentoring program played a significant role in my career path. I gained beneficial information about the field I was entering into and because of the support from my mentor, I was exceptionally prepared for an interview. I would recommend this program, without a doubt, to anyone looking to gain some insight into a new industry or for help just out of college." - Sarah Love-Martin, Geospatial Analyst, Spatial Data Integrations, Inc., St Louis, Missouri


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