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Celebrating 40 years of MAPPS

Updated: Jul 27

By: John Palatiello, Partner, Miller Wenhold Association Management



40 years ago on this day, July 12, 1982, a group of about 20 visionary photogrammetry firm owners and senior executives gathered in a hotel at O’Hare Airport in Chicago. Out of the remnants of the Legislative Council for Photogrammetry (LCP), which had recently disbanded, a new organization was formed – the Management Association for Private Photogrammetric Surveyors (MAPPS).


In 1982, I was hired as the first government affairs director of the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping (ACSM), now known as the National Society of Professional Surveyors (NSPS), and the American Society of Photogrammetry (ASP), now known as the American Society of Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS). The coincidental creation of an ACSM-ASP joint government affairs program and my employment as its director that same year led to MAPPS being an all-volunteer organization in its early years, with the new association providing grassroots, as well as financial support for my program. Having a voice and advocate on behalf of the surveying and mapping profession in Washington, DC was a goal of LCP and MAPPS, so the new ACSM-ASP program was met with enthusiasm by those participating in the Chicago meeting.


From that first year, I was honored to be embraced by the MAPPS leadership and membership and a strong relationship was fostered. As the government affairs programs grew, so too did that relationship. In addition to financial contributions to the ACSM-ASP program, MAPPS engaged me as a consultant to help plan its conferences, edit and publish a newsletter, and provide speakers. In 1987, I was retained as the first Executive Director of MAPPS.


For the next 30 years, MAPPS grew in membership, stature, and influence. At its pinnacle, it attracted more than 200 member firms, had revenues of almost $1 million, won White House endorsement of its top public policy priority, and build a significant record of legislative accomplishment in Congress. In 2017, the leadership of MAPPS at the time decided to move in a different direction and my relationship with the organization ended.


Today is a day to salute three leaders, Larry Edwards, Clayton Smith, and Jim Spell, the surviving members of that confab would found MAPPS in Chicago 40 years ago, and pay tribute to the legacy they left behind.


On behalf of all of us at the U.S. Geospatial Executives Organization (U.S. GEO), a coalition of the principals, owners, partners, and other senior decision-makers (described by one participant as “those with skin in the game”) of the leading geospatial firms in the market, we want to congratulate the three pioneers of MAPPS on 40-years dedicated to the profession.


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