GeoCenter
About Us

Who We Are

The GeoCenter is a team of geographers and analysts who apply geospatial technology, data analytics and scenario planning to inform international development programming at USAID.  The team works with Washington, D.C.-based bureaus and field-based missions to optimize the strategic planning, design, monitoring and evaluation of USAID’s programs. In addition to serving the analytical needs of the Agency, the GeoCenter also collaborates with interagency, international and university partners in the geospatial community.

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GeoCenter Team

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Carrie Stokes
Carrie has worked for 25 years in international development and the environment. She currently serves as the first Geographer of USAID, headquartered in Washington, DC. She helped established and now directs the Agency’s GeoCenter, which applies geographic analysis to development programming. Prior to becoming the Agency Geographer, Carrie managed the international geospatial program known as SERVIR, in a joint venture between USAID and NASA. Carrie has a technical background in Geographic Information Systems (GIS), global climate change, and natural resource management. She served as a Peace Corps Volunteer in Niger, West Africa, and holds an M.S. in Environmental Science from the School of Public and Environmental Affairs at Indiana University. At various points in her life, she has spoken Spanish, Russian, French, and Fulfulde (African language of the Fulani nomads, with whom she lived for 3.5 years).

 

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Michael Crino
Michael has worked for 20 years in support of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) and urban planning programs. He currently serves as the Deputy Director of the USAID Global Development Lab’s GeoCenter. Michael has a technical background in GIS and has managed the implementation of GIS programs for major transportation, water infrastructure and environmental projects. Most notably, Michael managed a program to map the New York City Sewer System; one of the largest civilian GIS programs ever undertaken at the time of its implementation. He helped start the New York State GIS Association, served as its chair in 2004, and in 2011 was a committee member for the NYS Geospatial Summit. He has presented on the topics of GIS at many conferences and his article on mapping the New York’s Sewer System was published by ESRI Press, in 2006. Michael is a Lieutenant Commander in the U.S. Navy Reserve and has supported three active duty assignments including mobilizing with the II Marine Expeditionary Force to Iraq, and was later selected as the Mid Atlantic Junior Officer of the Year for his contributions during the deployment. Michael has an M.S. in Geography and Environmental Planning from Towson University.

 

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Brian Bakker
Brian has been providing GIS support to international development organizations for nearly ten years. He currently serves as the program manager for the GeoCenter. Brian has a background in GIS web development, and has developed a variety of geo-enabled websites and applications. He is fluent with many programming languages including HTML, CSS, Javascript, PHP, and Python. Prior to joining the GeoCenter, Brian was on staff at World Vision. There he developed Geographic Information Systems and map products to support World Vision's International Programs Group, including support to field staff. Brian has also worked for a small aerial imaging company, and completed an internship at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Brian has a Masters degree in Geography from the University of Northern Iowa.

 

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Chad Blevins
Chad, a Senior Geospatial Analyst for the USAID GeoCenter, has been applying geography to global problems throughout this career. Chad leads the GeoCenter’s Mapping for Resilience program, which establishes partnerships between university students in the US and developing countries to jointly create and share open geographic data in areas of the world where data does not exist. Chad also leads the GeoCenter’s Remote Sensing program, which provides high-resolution, satellite imagery to USAID for development projects around the world. Prior to joining the GeoCenter, Chad supported the Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance. He has responded to some of the world’s most devastating disasters while working with a global network of geographers and relief organizations. Throughout his response work, Chad focused on applying information technology to disaster response and risk reduction programs.

 

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Tim Essam
Tim is a Data Scientist (GIS Focus) in the GeoCenter. Tim is the GeoCenter lead on the Livelihoods Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping project and in-house data munger/wrangler/visualizer. Tim holds a doctorate in Agricultural and Resource Economics from the University of Maryland. Tim's research focused on integrating remote sensing data (NDVI) with cereal prices to understand how deviations in weather-related vegetation production conditions affect cereal market performance in Western Africa. Prior to joining the GeoCenter, Tim served as the engagement lead for Summit Consulting's Quantitative Evaluation Practice serving the Department of Labor's Chief Evaluation Office. He has also worked at the World Bank, providing research to a project to estimate the global costs of adapting to climate change, and at the Inter-American Development Bank where he conducted research on impact evaluation methods for climate change projects. Tim has collaborated on numerous journal articles and policy research papers focused on similar themes. Tim is a self-confessed data geek and enjoys coding/turning data in Stata, MATLAB, R, ArcGIS and (recently) Python when he is not spending time with his family. He is a strong proponent of data visualization to convey complex research results to stakeholders of varying technical backgrounds.

 

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Patrick Gault
Patrick is a Senior GIS Analyst at the USAID GeoCenter. Patrick focuses on developing innovative approaches, best practices, and policies to implement the use of geographic data and analysis to increase the impact of USAID development programming. Prior to joining USAID, Patrick worked on regional development planning projects in the East Africa and Asia-Pacific regions and led experiential education courses in China. Patrick is currently pursuing a graduate degree in International Affairs at George Washington University’s Elliott School and studied Geography and Chinese as an undergraduate at Middlebury College in Vermont.

 

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Steve Gale
Steve Gale leads the Futures Team at USAID. He has held senior level positions at USDA and USAID, served at the White House on the National Security Council, on the staff of the House Oversight Subcommittee on National Security as a Brookings Fellow and at the National Intelligence Council. He earned his PhD in psychology from the Graduate School, City University of New York, post-Docs from Columbia University and the National Institutes of Health.

 

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Mariam Chaudhry
Mariam is the Geospatial Network Coordinator for the GeoCenter. She organizes the annual GIS specialists' workshop in Washington, and provides overall coordination and support to the growing GIS specialist network. Mariam also serves as the lead for all efforts related to the monitoring, evaluation, and reporting of GeoCenter activities. She is currently focused on evaluating the use of geospatial analysis in development programming at USAID Missions which have a GIS specialist. Previously, Mariam worked in corporate consulting, nonprofit, and for the Department of Defense. Mariam received her masters in International Affairs from the Bush School of Government and Public Service at Texas A&M University.

 

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Mayro Najarro
Mayro is a GIS analyst in the GeoCenter, where he focuses on creating web applications, supporting the use of web-based mapping tools, static map production, GIS software approval and mission engagement to build GIS capacity. Prior to coming to USAID, he worked with MDA Information Systems creating products such as global land cover and land use maps using various remote sensing methodologies. He has also worked at the US Census Bureau using satellite imagery to estimate population data for the country of Rwanda, and has worked with the department of interior in Denver, CO as part of their remote sensing team to better manage surface mining operations. Mayro received his B.A. in Geography and International Affairs from James Madison University and completed his M.S. in Geographic Information Science from Florida State University.

 

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Lalaina Parson
Lalaina is the Senior GIS Database Engineer in the USAID GeoCenter. She holds a Masters in Environmental Geography and has experiences working on GIS projects in the government, environmental, conservation, and international development sectors. At USAID, Lalaina worked with the Knowledge Management team in the CIO’s office at USAID where she built the AidTracker program. She also worked for FEMA to create the RiskMap CDS web application, the US Department of Education to build their NCES webmap application, and for the US Census to develop a GIS application and implement their GIS infrastructure. In Madagascar, Lalaina worked on conservation and environmental projects with USAID through CARE International. Currently, Lalaina is developing a GIS enterprise architecture for all phases of the SDLC for the GeoCenter, in which she administers and maintains spatial databases and develops web services through the use of cloud technologies.

 

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D. Ben Swartley
Ben is an Agriculture Foreign Service Officer who has been with USAID for 13 years. He is now assigned to the GeoCenter as a GIS analyst. Ben offers experience with USAID missions and  expertise in Natural Resource Management. Before coming to the Center he was posted to USAID's Haiti mission and the LAC Bureau. Ben was a Peace Corps Volunteer (Cameroon),  attended Oregon State University for forestry, and worked as a development advisor in rural watersheds.

 

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Michael Bobick
Michael Bobick joined the GeoCenter’s Futures Team in September 2016 as a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow. As a member of the Futures Team he helps Agency Field Missions integrate futures analysis (including scenario planning, quantitative modeling, trend analysis, and other approaches) into their 5-year strategic frameworks, while also collaborating with USAID's Bureau for Policy, Planning, and Learning. He earned his Ph.D. in anthropology from Cornell University, with post-docs at the American University of Central Asia and the University of Pittsburgh.

 

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Julianna Kuhn
Julianna is a GIS analyst in the GeoCenter. She assists with trainings, manages online GIS resources, and provides mapping support to the Lab Ebola team. Before coming to USAID, she worked with the US Army Reserve collecting and managing GIS data for master planning and provided geospatial policy support to the US Army. She has also worked at the US Census Bureau on the HIV Surveillance Database, and NASA Goddard analyzing imagery for air quality analysis in Africa and South America. Julianna was a Sondheim Public Affairs Scholar at University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC) where she earned her  bachelor degrees in Political Science and Geography. She was chosen for a Graduate Teaching Fellowship at George Washington University, where she received her masters degree in Geography focusing on health geography, sustainability, and GIS.