Please enter a valid search term.

Inspiring Leaders in Location Intelligence: The URISA GIS Leadership Academy

Louisville, KY. (September 18, 2019) – A Geographic Information System, or GIS, is a framework for gathering and analyzing data that is rooted in geography. It’s used in many aspects of life and various industries, from getting directions and traffic updates to determining broadband service areas and tracking crime. Technological training on GIS solutions and software is plentiful, but what are some of the available options for someone who wants to be a leader in GIS and at their organization?

URISA (Urban and Regional Information Systems Association) is a multi-disciplinary geospatial association that provides education, training, and resources for GIS professionals. The organization fosters excellence in GIS and engages geospatial professionals throughout their careers. One of the prominent programs URISA has developed is the GIS Leadership Academy.

The GIS Leadership Academy (GLA) is five days of targeted GIS leadership training taught by GIS leaders. It is a wonderful program that was first presented in 2007 and has provided training to over 800 GIS professionals since then. Each GLA offering is kept to a group of about 50 GIS professionals to facilitate group discussions, exercises, networking, and developing solutions in an environment that encourages interaction.

I am currently very involved with the GLA committee and sometimes facilitate the first two days of GLA classes with a co-instructor for sessions on management, leadership, communications, and team development. The Toronto, Ontario, offering of the GLA last month (August 2019) was the ninth time I have taught at the GLA.  Additional GLA topics include:

  • GIS Strategic Planning

  • Organizational Capacity Building

  • Conflict Resolution

  • Sustainability Strategies

  • Program Investment and Justification

  • Change Management

  • Organizational Performance Evaluation

While leadership training opportunities are abundant, the GLA provides the opportunity to apply those skills and team-building tools with others in GIS who have similar experiences, challenges, and expertise. Leveraging the power of GIS through both technological training and GIS-specific leadership training advances the geospatial possibilities at our organizations and throughout our careers.

There are currently four GLA offerings scheduled through 2020:

  • Phoenix, AZ: October 21-25, 2019

  • Minneapolis, MN: June 8-12, 2020

  • Portland, OR: August 17-21, 2020

  • Petersburg, FL: November 9-13, 2020

Hitt Ashley 01 200x300

Check out more information on the URISA GIS Leadership Academy on the URISA website:

About the Author: Ashley Hitt is the Director of GIS Services for Connected Nation. Ashley oversees the day-to-day operations of the GIS team. She’s responsible for developing strategies using GIS to provide data visualization solutions that impact policy, economic development, and the digital divide.