Women In GIS: Joan Gardner

By Directions Staff

What is your position in your company?

I'm President and Treasurer of AGI.My partners, Michael Terner and David Weaver and I founded the company in 1991.Prior to that we had all been employees of the

Joan Gardner
Commonwealth of Massachusetts where we initiated what has now become the MassGIS.My job with state government involved trying to site hazardous and solid waste facilities and in the early 80s I decided there had to be a better way.I hired Michael Terner as a summer student and we began to investigate how GIS could help.We eventually had a contract with USGS and digitized 13 statewide layers.Which laid the groundwork for MassGIS.Once MassGIS was institutionalized we started AGI.

What is your background?

I have a degree in Library Science and worked in university, college and elementary schools as a librarian for a number of years.When my children were in school, I was an elected official in my town for 9 years.In New England we have open town meeting form of local government, where we had about twenty minutes to present an article to approximately 700 people.When I first saw GIS demonstrated I recognized its value in presenting information.In fact, I was wowed!! I thought if we had had that when we were trying to rezone the town, the citizens would have better understood what we were trying to do.

Would you recommend GIS to other women?

Of course! This is a very exciting field with opportunity for growth.Learn programming, programming, programming in school.Participate in an internship program.Volunteer!

What is the accomplishment of which you are most proud?

Four healthy grandchildren.But in the GIS field, the Silent Spring Institute project.We have been working on this for five years, investigating how environmental factors may have contributed to the high rate of breast cancer on Cape Cod.When I first showed this project at the ESRI Users conference, I was surprised at the number of women who were excited that the technology was being used on a woman's issue.It has been an extraordinary experience to meet and explain the GIS process to breast cancer victims and their families on Cape Cod.For more information on this project check out our web site http://www.appgeo.com under health.

What does your typical day or week look like?

I'm involved in marketing and building the business, so much of my time is spent internally planning events and shows we will attend, developing materials for these events, and then attending the events, some proposal writing, some project management, some days it seems like personnel issues are dominant.Trying to attract the right people to join the team.Externally I belong to a variety of organizations so I attend breakfast, luncheon and dinner meetings and maintain contacts for teaming situations.No such thing as a typical day or week.

Why is GIS an exciting industry in which to participate?

Because it is just beginning.I envy the young people coming into the field today, because I can only fantasize about what the technological changes will bring.I don't think we can comprehend what the Internet will do to us and for us in the next twenty years.

What is the most important "next thing" that will happen in GIS?

Integration with the web.I believe the web will permit more people to think spatially and the demand for GIS will increase.We are beginning to create web pages for municipalities and this access will only increase the demand. 8.Before you came to GIS, what did you think your career would be in?

I served 9 years at the local government level and 10 years in state government, but the moment I saw GIS I knew there was an amazing opportunity with this technology.So although I would have answered this question with more government service, I had GIS in the back of my mind for a number of years.

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More Women in GIS

Published Tuesday, November 28th, 2000

Written by Directions Staff

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