Serving on a committee or task force can be one of the most rewarding benefits of being a URISA member. Not only will you have an opportunity to share your knowledge and skills to further the work of the organization, but you will almost certainly grow as a professional as a result of collaborating with other dedicated volunteers. Committee or task force membership can also put you on a path to leadership opportunities within URISA that benefit you personally and professionally. Additionally, volunteering provides valuable Contributions Points toward your GISP certification and renewal.
URISA operates through a well-established and effective organizational structure. An elected Board of Directors, supported by a talented professional staff, provides oversight and strategic planning. However, the majority of the work of the organization is accomplished by dedicated volunteers, like yourself, who serve on committees or task forces.
URISA is guided by a set of core documents.
- The Bylaws explain how our membership is organized, the role of the Board of Directors, how chapters are formed and the role of our professional staff.
- The Policy Manual provides detailed information about how the organization functions, including the roles and responsibilities of individual committees and task forces. (Page 12, section 400 details Committee Creation and Governance)
Individual committees and task forces may also have their own procedure manuals.
Committee and Task Force Organization
URISA committee and task force leadership consists of a minimum of three individuals that work closely with one another:
- Chair – Leads meetings and is responsible for ensuring completion of tasks in a timely and quality fashion. The Chair is also responsible for recruiting volunteers.
- Associate Chair – Supports the Chair as needed. The Associate Chair typically serves as the Chair-Elect, becoming Chair at the end of the term of the current Chair. The Associate Chair is also typically responsible for leading the effort to identify major annual tasks, consistent with URISA’s strategic plan, for recommendation to the Board of Directors.
- Board Liaison – Represents the Board of Directors and provides guidance on strategic issues as needed.
Leadership from each URISA committee and task force participates in a bi-monthly coordination call. These calls provide opportunities for identifying collaborative opportunities that can benefit the organization and its members.
In addition to their leaders, committees and task forces depend on the support of volunteers. Most committees and task forces organize volunteers into workgroups that complete clearly defined tasks within a specified timeframe.
Volunteers on a committee or task force play a critical role. Without volunteers, committees and task forces - and by extension URISA - cannot be successful. This is true regardless of whether you hold a leadership position or are volunteering to support a specific task. Here are some steps that you can take to ensure that your time as a committee or task force member is well spent and yields the most benefit to yourself and the organization.
- Familiarize yourself with the organizational core documents, the Bylaws and the Policy Manual.
- Have a conversation with the leadership of your committee or task force as soon as possible. Tell them about your skills and interests. This will help them connect you with an activity where you are likely able to contribute.
- Ask questions! Meetings may be hard to follow for new members. If you need clarification, do not hesitate to ask either during a meeting or by reaching out to leadership after the meeting.
- Get involved! If you have not been assigned a task, volunteer for one. Also, if you have an idea that can benefit the work of the committee or task force be sure to share it.
- Avoid over-committing. Do not take on tasks that you are unable to complete by the deadline set by the committee or task force. URISA committees and task forces often support one another and delays by one can create delays in others. If your circumstances prevent you from completing an assigned task, please let the Chair know as soon as possible so that another committee member can be assigned or the due date can be revised. As volunteers, we’ve all been in that situation and appreciate being informed of the change.
- If you decide that the committee or task force you are on does not fit your needs, try another one! There are lots of opportunities for you to apply your abilities in URISA.
URISA Committees & Task Forces
Annual Conference (GIS-Pro) Committee: The Committee is charged with producing the Association’s annual educational conference.
Specialty Conference Committees: Additional conference committees are charged with producing specialty conferences such as the URISA Caribbean GIS Conference, GIS/Valuation Technologies Conference, GIS in Transit Conference, and the GIS in Public Health Conference. On an as-needed basis, other committees may be formed, or individuals designated, to develop and deliver regional and special interest conferences to meet the needs of the membership.
Chapter Development and Relations Council: The Chapter Development and Relations Council promotes the health and growth of URISA chapters and facilitates communication, and support by and between URISA and its chapters.
Community Resilience Task Force was established to discuss and produce knowledge about the role of geospatial data, technologies, policies and associated best practices related to community resilience.
Exemplary Systems In Government (ESIG) Awards Committee: This Committee is charged with the development, administration and selection of awards for recognition of exceptional achievement in the application of information technology that has improved the delivery and quality of government services.
GISCorps Core Committee: Plans and directs the work of the GISCorps. The GISCorps coordinates short term, volunteer based GIS services to underprivileged communities and for humanitarian relief. The GISCorps Core Committee solicits and assigns volunteers to provide GIS services.
Leadership Development Committee: This Committee is charged with recommending a slate of candidates to serve on the URISA Board of Directors in accordance with the Association’s Bylaws and to propose candidates to serve in the post of Whistleblower Policy Compliance Officer. This Committee also identifies people for future leadership roles.
Marketing Committee: This committee is charged with developing and implementing programs to: market the organization; advertise its activities, events, programs and initiatives; and attract and retain URISA members.
Membership Committee: The purpose of the Membership Committee is to advance membership growth, retention and benefits by promoting URISA membership through marketing and communications efforts and best practices to increase participation in URISA through networking, volunteerism and recognition. The committee is responsible for evaluating current and proposed member benefits and potential new categories of membership to be reviewed and approved by the URISA Board of Directors.
URISA's NextGen Task Force was established to leverage the GIS voice of URISA with the emerging technology of Next Generation 911 (NextGen 911) via participation in the NextGen 911 NOW Coalition.
Past Presidents Council: The Council provides advice to URISA’s Board upon request, and may, at Board request or with Board approval, take up specific matters for the good of the Association. In addition, each year the Council reviews and makes recommendations to the Board on nominations for the GIS Hall of Fame.
Professional Education Committee (PEC): Oversees the development and maintenance of URISA-approved professional educational materials. It also establishes guidelines for the development, review, and publication of URISA approved professional educational materials. The PEC ensures that these materials are developed and presented in accordance with URISA policies, membership interests, and Board strategic goals. The committee also coordinates the URISA portfolio of educational materials, identifying gaps, resolving overlaps, and assessing balance.
Membership: Open to any URISA member.
What We’re Working On: The PEC current currently has over a dozen active workgroups that are creating podcasts, webinars, FAQs, workshops and more. Workgroup topics include guidance for young professionals, preparing for GISP certification, social justice and GIS, GIS and Ethics, NextGen911, GIS management, and more. We are always seeking new ideas that fit within URISA’s mission.
Volunteer Opportunities: PEC is constantly producing new educational products and is always seeking volunteers interested in furthering its goal to support the GIS profession. Most of our work involves content development, review and presentation. Time commitments can range from an hour to many days depending on your interest and availability.
Do you have experience in one or more of the topics we are currently pursuing? Is there some other topic that you know about and that you are willing to help us inform others about? Do you like to write material, review material others have written or present to others? If you can answer yes to one or more of these questions we want to hear from you now! Contact: Chair: Xan Fredericks, GISP or Co-Chair Matt Gerike, GISP
Policy Advisory (PAC) Committee: Charged with recommending formal policy positions on matters that:
- Pertain directly to URISA’s mission
- Do not involve partisan political lobbying or direct support for a political party or candidate
- Are raised and reviewed, and the position recommended, in accordance with the established procedures of the Committee.
Special Awards Committee: This committee is charged with developing awards that recognize members for their contributions to the association and community at large.
URISA GIS Leadership Academy Committee: Produces the GLA, a one week leadership and management course for developing GIS leaders. It focuses on GIS leadership and management techniques, strategic planning, team development, organizational capacity building, program investment and justification, change management, and ethics and professional challenges, among other topics.
Vanguard Cabinet: Established to provide the means for young professionals to receive encouragement and to have a stronger role in the guidance of URISA. The Cabinet’s mission is to collaborate with the URISA Board of Directors in creating and promoting programs and policies of benefit to young professionals.
Get Involved! Contact Wendy Nelson for questions and details, or to be connected to a committee leader.