IMAGIN Board of Directors Election & Candidate Info

IMAGIN is led by a fifteen (15) member Board of Directors that oversee all aspects of the organization.  Board members are elected for a two (2) year term, with alternating year of election where seven (7) members are elected one year and eight (8) the next year. 

For the 2024 Election, nine (9) directors seats are open for election. Eight (8) of the seats are regularly scheduled election seats, and one additional seat is for a director that is stepping down mid-term.  This 9th director position will be elected to fill a one (1) year term, where the first eight (8) positions are for the standard two (2) year term.  Board of Directors requirements can be found in the IMAGIN Bylaws, Article IV: Board of Directors

Election ballots will be e-mailed to active members with voting status on May 5, 2024  and the election will remain open until Sunday, May 19, 2024 at 5:00 pm EST.  Results of the election will be announced at IMAGIN's Annual Membership Meeting to be held on Monday, June 3, 2024 as part of the 2024 IMAGIN Annual Conference

Once the election is closed and the new IMAGIN board members are seated, the Board of Directors will elect the Officers of IMAGIN at the IMAGIN Annual Board of Directors Meeting

The 2024 IMAGIN Board of Directors Candidates:
Candidates listed in alphabetical order by last name, with incumbents listed first and designated with the symbol (I) following their name.  During the election, members will vote for no more than nine (9) candidates total:

Magdalena DiFranco (I)
GIS Specialist @ Charter Township of Clinton
I graduated from Western Michigan University in 2009 with Bachelor of Science in Geography and then from University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2012 with Master of Science in Cartography and GIS.

I was born and raised in Poland. At 16 my family moved to the US and settled in southeastern Michigan. I finished high school and then attended Western Michigan University in Kalamazoo for my undergraduate studies. I was always interested in geography so a degree in the field seemed like a great fit. My sophomore year I took an Intro to GIS class and fell in love with it. I took every single GIS course available at Western, got a job as a GIS research assistant on multiple grants and as a GIS technician for Facilities Management. After graduation I decided to get my Master’s at University of Wisconsin-Madison in Cartography and GIS. While in school I was a teaching assistant, worked at the UW Cartography Lab and got a GIS internship for American Transmission Company. In 2012 I moved back to Michigan and for three years worked as GIS analyst for a consulting firm Atwell in Southfield until I took a job as GIS Specialist for Clinton Township in 2015. As a one-woman GIS team, I provide mapping support for all township’s departments including Water & Sewer, Public Works, Planning, Parks & Rec, Assessing, Building and Fire. I’m responsible for maintaining a variety of datasets, managing ArcGIS Online, and overseeing field collection activities. In 2021 I received the GISP certification. I have two kids, a husband, two parakeets, and a dog. We live in Madison Heights and enjoy being outdoors. I like to travel, bike, swim, garden, read and do puzzles in my free time. I love old maps and get teased on the amount of globes I own.

Why Would You Like to Serve (Continue) on the Board of IMAGIN?
I’d like to continue serving on the IMAGIN board to contribute to our geospatial community. IMAGIN strives to provide great opportunities for professional development and networking and I’d like to support that mission. In my two years on the board, I have gained a new perspective and appreciation for IMAGIN as an organization and I got to meet and work with lots of great people in our industry.

Past IMAGIN Involvement:
I’ve been an IMAGIN member since 2016 and a board member since 2022. I have attended the conferences and events as well as presented multiple times. Currently I’m part of the Professional Development Team that worked on Pro for Pros and AGO for Pros, Conference Planning Team as Social Events lead, and I also serve as a Meetup Coordinator for the Southeast region.

Doreen Groth (I)
GIS Manager @ City of Rochester Hills

I have a Masters of Science Degree in Geography from the Martin-Luther University Halle Wittenberg in Germany. My minors are in Geology and Japanese Studies. I proudly hold my Waterworks System Operator (D4, S3) Licenses from EGLE. In 2022 I completed the Leadership RH Program. The Asset Management Champion Program Certificate was awarded to me in 2023 from the Michigan Infrastructure Council. My next goal is to become project management certified.

I am originally from Germany but have been living in Michigan for over 17 years. I am trying to visit my country once a year but call Lake Orion my home, because that’s where my family and friends are. I knew since 8th grade that I wanted to be a geographer. In Germany I worked at different Universities in research using GIS and remote sensing to determine river flood hazard areas and to monitor hydrochemical parameters of lignite mining lakes. In 2015 I started working as a GIS Specialist at the Department of Public Works in Independence Township and was promoted 2 years later to the Township’s GIS Manager. Here I discovered my passion for local government and the public works sector. Our DPS received in 2016 the Esri & Leica Geosystems Smart Community and Innovation Challenge Grant. From 2019 to 2020 I worked for GISinc where I learned a lot and met many people who LOVE GIS as much as I do. I also had a chance to work on very interesting projects with many different municipalities and organizations across the country. When I saw the GIS Manager position was open at the City of Rochester Hills, I decided to make the move from the private sector back to local government. My work is featured in several professional publications (e.g. Spring 2017 and Spring 2023 ArcNews). I also got many chances to present at different conferences (e.g. Esri UC, Cityworks) throughout the years. In 2022 my team was recognized with the Esri Special Achievement in GIS (SAG) Award and the IMAGIN Innovation Award. In 2017 we were honored with the Granicus Capstore Award. Last year I helped Reroot Pontiac to receive Esri’s Small Nonprofit Grant.
When I’m not creating innovative GIS solutions, I enjoy a cup of coffee with a good book or a great conversation, traveling and working in my garden.

Past IMAGIN Involvement: 

I have been an IMAGIN board member for 2 years and enjoy being involved in the Awards Team. The team chooses every year awards and scholarship recipients and map gallery winners prior to the conference. I am also working on the Governance Team, where we are helping to answer bylaw and policy related questions, reviewing those and making suggestions for possible changes. When time allows I am joining the Landscape Survey meetings. I am a member of the MiGROWTH team, where we together with MiCAMP work on proposing a path on how to merge the two GIS professional organizations into a unified one.

Eric Kerney (I)
Geospatial Developer @ Airspace Link Inc.

BA - Western Michigan University
MA - Western Michigan University
Geography & Environmental Resource Analysis

My love of Michigan Geography, water, and weather began as a kid travelling all around both Peninsulas and the surrounding Great Lakes. I also became fascinated with video games and technology in the 1980's, when playing games on a TI computer involved loading a cassette tape(!). I continue to pivot between these two themes, and GIS has been a way to combine ecology, tech, and maps into something that continues to intrigue me. I began work with a citizens group attempting to coordinate cleaning up legacy pollution in the Kalamazoo River and envision a new future for the watershed. Later on I was fortunate to further my geographic knowledge and learn about GIS at WMU, for my MA in Geography and Environmental Resources. I spent more than a decade in the Environmental Department of the Nottawaseppi Huron Band of the Potawatomi, managing the water resources and GIS programs, and learning about the culture, history, and challenges faced by Native Peoples in Michigan. Working from home during Covid, whilst helping to homeschool our daughter, I became focused on emerging Geospatial Technologies and learned to create maps and work with geo data using code. Since Nov 2021 I've been a Geospatial Developer with Airspace Link, helping to build drone highways in the skies.

Past IMAGIN Involvement: 
Currently serving on IMAGIN board, have served several terms. I've presented at most conferences and am presenting and coordinating several sessions this year. I help with the social team and try to attend SWMI meetups so we can all talk shop and maps and nerd stuff.

Jonathon Merrick (I) GIS Administrator @ Eaton County

My name is Jon Merrick and I am a native Michigander from the small city of Hastings located in beautiful Barry County in Southwest Michigan where I live with my wife and two children.
I am currently the GIS Coordinator for Eaton County, Michigan. In my position, I work with nearly every department and division within county government to deliver and support GIS based solutions and technologies.
I have served on the IMAGIN board for four terms and am the current Vice-President. During my tenure I have helped create IMAGIN Meetups, helped plan and implement IMAGIN Workshops as well as presenting in two, and assisting in conference social planning and silent auction donations which fund our annual scholarship. I have also presented at the annual conference a few times. I am currently on the Conference, Membership, and Communications committees. My most recent initiative was to create an IMAGIN store where organization and conference themed apparel and items can be purchased. The proceeds from the sales go directly to funding the organization.
My interest in being a continued part of IMAGIN is simple. I believe that there is a wealth of valuable professional GIS experience across all sectors and geographies of our region’s economy. By engaging in regular discussion, maintaining a community of professionals, and creating a center point for networking, professional development, and socialization, we can each better attain the objectives of the organizations in which we serve as well as realize our own personal career goals. At the same time, we can enjoy ourselves and build a resilient and close-knit community of professionals, colleagues, and friends. It is through a community of professionals in which experience economies of scale is realized. IMAGIN is that venue for discussion and learning, the community, and the networking center point and I would be honored to be elected to serve another term.

Past IMAGIN Involvement: 

Sarah Merz (I)
GIS Analyst @ Wexford County

Northwestern Michigan College, Traverse City, MI
Associate in Applied Science,
Engineering Tech - Unmanned Aerial Systems, 2018

Pennsylvania State University, World Campus
Master of GIS, 2009

University of NV, Reno, NV
BS in Environmental Science (emphasis on GIS), 2000

I enjoy working with GIS which provides me a wonderful creative outlet through map making and endless possibilities for doing geospatial analyses. I have had many wonderful and different opportunities to work with and be part of the GIS/Geospatial Technologies community. I have worked with GIS in a variety of fields and look forward to the changes and new technologies that GIS/Geospatial Technologies will provide in the future.

Past IMAGIN Involvement: 
I have been a member of IMAGIN since 2004 and a Board Member since 2008.
In the past I served as an officer in both the Vice President and Treasurer roles.

Pete Schneider (I)
GIS System Analyst @ Ottawa County
B.S. Geographic Methods - Grand Valley State University (2006)

Twenty years of GIS experience in county and municipal government. I currently am the GIS System Analyst for Ottawa County, primarily focusing on database and server administration.  Outside of GIS, I spend my free time fishing, hunting, and mowing an enormous lawn. My current challenge is coaching my son's baseball team.  I reside near Sparta on five acres with my wife (Megan) and three boys ages 11 (Hayden), 9 (Lance), and 5 (Dean).

Past IMAGIN Involvement: 
I have been on the IMAGIN Board of Directors for so many years that I have trouble remembering how many years it has been. I think this was my twelfth year on the Board. I have spent several years on the Executive Team as Secretary, Treasurer, and Vice-President. I was also the Conference Chair for several years. Currently I am assisting in Conference planning and serving on the GIS organization consolidation work group.

Jerry Swanson (I)
GIS & IT Administrator @ City of Traverse City

A cultural geography class in 2008 exposed me to John Snow's cholera map and enticed my interest in geospatial technologies.
Bachelor of Science in Environmental Management from Cal Poly Humboldt (formally known as Humboldt State University)
Remote Pilot Certificate - FAA 

Raised in Traverse City, MI (not born, birth certificate says New York State) and headed west for college. After stints in California, Colorado and Washington, I landed my first GIS job in North Carolina. After being exposed to the roles of GIS Technician, Specialist, Solutions Provider, and Project Manager, I boomeranged back to Northern Michigan and became the City of Traverse City's GIS Coordinator. After 5 years in that role, recently became the GIS Administrator and also handle IT responsibilities.

I have a wonderful wife and two awesome boys under the age of 3 with a basset hound to boot! I enjoy cooking, reading the newspaper, streaming public meetings and recently taken on the challenge of running a half marathon. I like finding solutions to problems and building relationships through dialogue.

Past IMAGIN Involvement: 
I have been on the IMAGIN Board of Directors since 2020 and currently serve as Secretary on the Executive Team. I have been chair of Pro-Dev and been apart of the Pro for Pro webinar series. I also currently serve on the Governance and Awards team.

Ariana Toth, GISP (I) GIS Manager @ Giffels Webster

MA, Geography, Western Michigan University; BA, Political Science, Oakland University

I grew up in semi-rural Oakland County with horses, chickens, and huskies (we even had a dog sled for a couple of years.) My previous career was in organizing political campaigns and I got to travel the country interacting with voters and learning how different environments shape people’s political views. When I was ready to settle down with a permanent address and stable benefits, I decided to go back to school for GIS. My studies focused on economic geography and equality. I was fortunate to earn a FLAS scholarship which helped fund my ten weeks of field research in the North Atlantic Autonomous Region of Nicaragua.
I am currently the GIS Manager at Giffels Webster and have worked there since 2014 when I started my career in GIS. My primary experience is working with sewer & water utilities and municipal planning projects, but I have also worked with fire, assessing, and building departments as well as some private development projects. I don’t mind what sort of data I’m working with when I get to play with databases and experiment with cartographic presentations.

Past IMAGIN Involvement: 
Ariana has served three two-year terms as a director and served as Secretary for four years. She was the primary editor of the quarterly newsletter prior to the pandemic and has presented at conferences. She served as a volunteer instructor for the Pro for Pros webinar series for two years. Currently, she is leading the membership committee and is part of the committee working towards a potential merger with MiCAMP. She has also been a leader in the creation of a new GIS landscape survey to discover more about the GIS job market within the state. Look for that later this year.

Mariah Modson
Senior GIS Specialist @ Giffels Webster

I received a Bachelors of Science for Natural Resources Management from Grand Valley State University

I grew up watching my dad as a surveyor, going to work with him in the field or working on maps in the office. Once I was in college, I was drawn to studying environmental science, which included GIS courses. I have always found myself as a visual learner and what better way to represent environmental data than with maps!
Whether I'm at a public or private sector job, the one thing in common is being able to create resources for valuable decision making to better our communities. As high-level of a description as it is, when I tell people I "make maps" they can quickly relate and appreciate the level of detail it can involve.
Being part of an organization like IMAGIN only furthers those feel-good moments because you get to be surrounded by fellow mapmakers, working together to better the geospatial world in Michigan.

Past IMAGIN Involvement: 
I am part of the following committees: social media, auction, conf socials, outreach.

IMAGIN: Improving Michigan's Access to Geographic Information Networks

IMAGIN is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization with offices at 416 S. Cedar Street, Suite H, Lansing, MI 48912

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