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A Message from the MAPPS President

Posted By Susan Marlow, Thursday, September 24, 2015

Thank you to the MAPPS membership for your confidence in my selection as President for 2015-2017. I am honored to lead this great association and look forward to working with the entire membership on building a better geospatial community.

The entire new Board and Officers are here to serve you. Please do not hesitate to contact us whenever we can be of assistance.

(From left to right: Bob Hanson, Treasurer; Brian Raber, President-Elect; Joseph Seppi, Director; Mark Brooks, Director; Chris Ogier, Secretary; Susan Marlow, President; George Southard, Director; Kelly Francis, Director; Mitch Long, Director; Thomas Newman, Director)

Over the past several months, the MAPPS Board endeavored to call a principal in every member firm. While we may not have connected with everyone, this outreach effort was intended to listen to the members so the Board could be responsive to your needs. Combined with our Task Force on the Future of MAPPS, the Board has heard a lot of great ideas on improving our association. We’re now at work reviewing and implementing many of those suggestions. Some of the suggestions we’ve already implemented include: changing the location and shortening the length of the Winter Conference to make it more affordable to more members; revising the focus of the Winter Conference to provide a greater emphasis on forum discussions; adding a new seat on the Board of Directors to represent the Associate Firms; improving the transparency, outreach and communications with the membership; changing the dues structure to assessment based upon a firm’s geospatial employees; and partnering with other organizations on conferences to reduce the proliferation of conferences. I’ll keep you posted on more improvements we’ll be implementing in the future.

Not every idea works out. For example, we heard that the Summer Conference was too long, so this year’s gathering was shortened by a day. Several of those at the Sunriver conference expressed their disappointment with the change. 

One non-member who attended the Sunriver meeting said he was impressed that MAPPS is about cooperation, not competition. Other associations are more dog-eat-dog, but MAPPS is about building a community. He’s right. We are competitors, but we have healthy “co-opetition”. Another commented that an organization like MAPPS could never succeed in Canada, because there is not the same camaraderie as we have among the firms in MAPPS. A third joined after attending the Winter Conference in Puerto Rico in January because he was impressed at how open and welcoming the MAPPS membership is to newcomers.

Such “inclusion” is something I want to make a priority of my term as President.

Everyone is welcome and encouraged to get involved. In my view, everyone in the membership has something to offer to MAPPS. I want the contribution of everyone’s talent and ideas. We do want to build a community.

To some, MAPPS is a clique. It may seem that way to newcomers because so many of the members have known each other for many years. However, if MAPPS is a good old boys’ network, then this Southern girl just busted that glass ceiling!

I’m living proof that someone can join MAPPS, get involved in an issue in which one has a passion … in my case it has been parcels … and work that issue in MAPPS. It is open and inclusive, and we need to continuously identify and address issues that are important to MAPPS members.

Bryan Logan, a past President of MAPPS, is the person who recruited me into the association a number of years ago. He used to say “a rising tide lifts all boats”. That precisely describes MAPPS.  I want everyone involved in making the private sector geospatial community a better market for our firms, our employees, our clients, and our Nation.

There is a slogan that I will use for MAPPS that captures this concept --- “MAPPS members do big things in the profession … and FOR the profession.”

This organization is about getting AND giving back. In addition to inclusion, I also want to focus on retention. With mergers and acquisitions, the economic downturn and other factors, we lose some member firms each year. Our retention is in the norm for trade associations, but we need to develop a value proposition to not only recruit new members, but keep the members we have. One way to do that is to engage our members between and in addition to our conferences. While face-to-face meetings at conferences are productive and important, they are not the only means of engaging our members. I want to increase the use of the "wall" on our website, the blog, and conference calls in between conferences to include the membership and provide more value in order to retain members.

We’re all in this together. I look forward to working with everyone in the membership to build that better community.


Susan Marlow

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