ASPRS Executive Director James Plasker has announced his retirement from ASPRS and plans to step down from his position, effective January 2014. Plasker was selected as the Executive Director in 1998 to succeed William French who had served in the position for 20 years.
As ASPRS Executive Director for nearly 16 years, Plasker led or significantly contributed to numerous programmatic efforts on behalf of the ASPRS membership and the broader geospatial community. These included resolution of professional licensure issues and expanded geospatial representation to the National Council of Examiners for Engineering and Surveying (NCEES); development of the Ten Year Remote Sensing Industry Forecast (Phases I-IV); increased awareness of Landsat data continuity issues and the requirement for a National Land Imaging Program; ASPRS participation in several U.S. Department of Labor career and statistical reporting programs including NAICS and ONET; expansion of both thenumber and monetary value of the ASPRS awards and scholarships endowed through the ASPRS Foundation; supported a number of ASPRS studies on camera calibration, digital orthophotography and the value of Landsat data; aided ASPRS volunteers in the development of the LAS common data exchange standard and the best practices guidelines for procurement of professional geospatial services and geospatial products; oversaw expansion of the ASPRS Certification Program to include technologists and intern categories; and increased efforts to support the accreditation of applied science and engineering programs through his continuing service to the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
During Plasker’s tenure he also oversaw implementation of the Society’s strategic plan, including an expansion and modernization of the ASPRS publications program; fulfillment of the decision to operate its conferences independently; improvement of the financial health of the Society; recovery of the APSRS Foundation and full endowment of its awards; and the payoff of the mortgage on the Headquarters offices. The Society now has a working investment policy for Society short and long term reserves, which specifically enabled the recovery of the publication of ASPRS manuals from an outside publisher and supported ongoing Society operations as the Nation’s economic condition worsened in recent years. In addition, Plasker has implemented technological advancements in the Headquarters IT infrastructure as well as the membership database and website capabilities.
Upon announcing his retirement, Plasker said, “ASPRS is a world‐class geospatial organization with members located in nearly every country. As such, I have had the pleasure to serve the membership as well as represent the Society, along with volunteer leadership, both internationally and to our sister societies in the USA. The opportunity to work with my colleagues throughout the geospatial community to enhance and improve our profession has been most rewarding to me and hopefully to the ASPRS membership in general.” He looks forward to working with the ASPRS Board of Directors to ensure a smooth and effective transition to a new Executive Director.
Speaking for the ASPRS Board of Directors, President Steve DeGloria expressed deep appreciation and gratitude for all that Plasker has accomplished on behalf of ASPRS; “His dedication, leadership, and commitment to our professional society and geospatial community have been outstanding. We look forward to continuing interactions with Jim during this transition period and his continuing support of ASPRS in the coming years.”
An active ASPRS member since his college days, Plasker began his career with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and for 26 years he served in a broad range of capacities, including chief of the Technology Office and chief of the Mapping Control Operations in the Rocky Mountain Mapping Center; assistant chief for Production Operations and associate chief of the National Mapping Division; and associate chief geologist for Operations in the Geologic Division. During his tenure with USGS he was responsible for the development of the National Aerial Photography Program and the National Digital Orthophotoquad Program, both collaborative efforts with colleagues from the U.S. Department of Agriculture and the private sector. These programs formed the underpinnings of several current Federal image mapping functions including the National Agriculture Imagery Program (NAIP). He was also responsible for the development of the USGS Digital Raster Graphic Program through close cooperation with the private sector, and facilitated a multi-organizational Task Force on the Model Law on Surveying to advise NCEES at a time of rapidly changing professional geospatial practice.
Plasker has also held many volunteer leadership positions within ASPRS, the American Congress on Surveying and Mapping, the International Federation of Surveyors, the American Society of Civil Engineers, the U.S. National Section of the Pan American Institute for Geography and History, and ABET. In retirement, Jim and his wife, Billie, plan to return to their native Oregon and once again enjoy the climate and lifestyle of the western U.S.