NEURISA Special Achievement Award


Potential Recipients: GIS Practitioners in New England

Criterion: Through the use of geospatial or other information technologies, the individual has made a significant contribution that greatly enhances the efficiency and effectiveness of an organization; or realizes a significant return on investment; or greatly improves the quality of services. This contribution may be a single act or a cumulative performance. Significance will be measured by a positive impact on an organization or a community.

Nomination Process: Nominations will be solicited from geospatial and information technologies professionals and the NEURISA Board. Announcements will be made on the NEURISA web site and through email blasts. A web-based form will be provided for submitting nominations. Nomination deadline is normally 2 months prior to the annual NEURISA Day conference (or URISA GIS-Pro) to ensure that the selection committee will have ample time to complete the selection process.  The nomination process usually begins June.

The deadline for submissions is August 14, 2015!

Selection Process: A committee of three individuals (president, president-elect and past-president) will select from nominees submitted based upon a set of predefined criterion. The NEURISA Special Achievement Award does not need to be given annually, but rather only given in years when someone truly deserves due to his or her contributions. This award can be shared when more than one outstanding individual are selected within the same year.



NEURISA Special Achievement Award


2013 Recipient - Michael Howser

Congratulations to Michael Howser, UCONN - University Libraries - Map and Geographic Information Center (MAGIC), for receiving the 2013 NEURISA Special Achievement Award Michael has transformed the way GIS data is organized and made available in CT.  He has facilitated the growth and innovation that has transformed CT’s Map and Geographic Information Center (MAGIC) over the past five years.  He has had a role in creating a seamless statewide 1934 aerial data set of CT.  He helped to establish the CT State Data Center, a collaboration of academic and state organizations that serve as a liaison to the US Census.  He has helped to digitized a wealth of historical information through a massive scanning and metadata project of over 200,000 documents.  The comprehensive collection of digital GIS datasets available through MAGIC has exploded in the past five years, yet still remains easy to navigate and simple to use.

The award was presented to Mr. Howser at GIS-Pro 2013 (URISA's Annual Conference) in Providence, RI (September 18, 2013).

2012 Recipient - Benjamin Lewis

Congratulations to Benjamin Lewis, Harvard University, Center for Geographic Analysis, for receiving the 2012 NEURISA Special Achievement Award.

The award was presented to Mr. Lewis at our annual one day conference, NEURISA Day 2012 at the Old Sturbridge Village, MA.

2011 Recipient -
Dr. Zuo-Gong Xia

Congratulations to Dr. Zuo-Gong Xia, Professor of Environmental, Earth and Ocean Sciences, and Vice Provost for Research and Strategic Initiatives at the university of Massachusetts/Boston, for receiving the 2011 NEURISA Special Achievement Award. 

As a longtime educator, motivator and mentor to countless students, Dr. Xia has greatly influenced the success of the many, who have gone on to successful careers as GIS professionals. He was the founder of the GIT Certificate program at UMass Boston, and this program continues to turn out the next generation of GIS technicians, analysts and programmers. He instilled the interest in and enthusiasm for GIS, so I'm certain his legacy will continue for years to come. Dr. Xia truly is a special individual who not only has achieved himself but has passed along this gift to others.

The award was presented to Dr. Xia at our annual one day conference, NEURISA Day 2011 at the Old Sturbridge Village, MA.



NEURISA Superior & Dedicated Service Award


Potential Recipients: A NEURISA member or a member of the NEURISA Board of Directors.

Criterion: A NEURISA member or a member of the NEURISA Board of Directors who has made a significant contribution to the organization and its activities.

2013 Recipient:  Congratulations to Neil MacGaffey, past NEURISA President and Assistant Director at MassGIS, for receiving the Superior and Dedicated Service Award for 2013. The award was presented to Mr. MacGaffey at GIS-Pro 2013 (URISA's Annual Conference) in Providence, RI (September 18, 2013).

Mr. MacGaffey exemplifies the meaning of superior and dedicated.  He was a key player helping to sustain NEURISA when it was struggling to survive.  He understood the importance of establishing and documenting procedures and protocols necessary to mature and sustain the organization.  He realized that leadership starts with a “vision”, but is nothing without hard work, team building, speed and authenticity.  He understood the importance of recruiting good people to the Board.

  • Feng Yang (NEURISA Past-President): “He dedicated a great deal of his time to running this organization for many years. He was instrumental in laying down the foundation for this organization to grow to where it is now.  NEURISA benefited from his vision, excellent communication and outreach skills, his ability to identify talented people, his management skills and his solid technical understanding of the profession.”
  • Paul Samara (NEURISA Past-President): “He is the consummate collaborator and defender of both needed and defined processes. He has been unwavering with his commitment to this organization and his efforts have been nothing short of stellar. he exemplifies this award and I cannot think of any person more deserving!”

More than anyone else he brought discipline, focus, and dedication to NEURISA.  He was (and still is) committed to making NEURISA a great organization!

2010 Recipient:  Congratulations to Chris French, NEURISA Secretary and Communications Coordinator, for receiving the inaugural Superior and Dedicated Service Award for 2010. The announcement was made at our annual one day conference, NEURISA Day 2010. Chris is also the Senior Account Manager at ESRI, Boston, MA.


The New England Chapter of the Urban and Regional Information Systems Association (NEURISA) is the professional association of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) practitioners in New England. NEURISA is a nonprofit 501(c)6 organization whose mission is to advance the effective and appropriate use of GIS and related information technologies to solve challenges throughout the region.
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