2020 Distinguished Career Award Recipient – Kari Craun

In 2020, the CaGIS Board of Directors awarded the Distinguished Career Award to Kari Craun. Ms. Craun is well recognized for her contributions to cartography serving as the Director of the National Geospatial Technical Operations Center (NGTOC) where she guided the development of The National Map of the U.S. Geological Survey and the design, development, and production of US Topo, the modern digital topographic map of the United States. Ms. Craun served as a Board member, Treasurer, and President of the Cartography and Geographic Information Society (CaGIS), Past-President of the American Society for Photogrammetry and Remote Sensing (ASPRS) and received the ASPRS Claude H. Birdseye Presidential Citation in 2007 and the ASPRS Outstanding Service Award in 2013. She was honored as an ASPRS Fellow in 2012. She received the Department of the Interior Meritorious Service Award in 1996.

Kari Craun received the prestigious Henry Gannet Award of the U.S. Geological Survey for her contributions to the generation of new topographic maps, in the form of US Topo, for the 48 conterminous United States. Ms. Craun was tasked by the management of the National Geospatial Program in October of 2008 to establish a production capability to automatically generate more than 55,000 7.5 minute, 1:24,000-scale topographic maps on a repetitive 3-year cycle and to include the basic content of the traditional topographic map series that had required over 50 years to complete. The new US Topo quadrangles are generated in a GeoSpatial PDF format, ready for use on a computer system or for printing with standard USGS topographic map symbology. Ms. Craun, Director of NGTOC, assembled a staff for the production operation and began generation of a beta product in May of 2009, following with full production of topographic maps in October of 2009. Overcoming obstacles of errors in the geospatial databases that would be the base of the map production operations, scheduling of contractual operations, and continually fine-tuning the production operations, the NGTOC, under Ms. Craun’s leadership, established an automated production process that continues to improve the operations and the product. The process requires that all data be available and pre-staged to support the production of over 100 maps per day. In September of 2012, the last of the quadrangles that would complete the first cycle of 48-state coverage rolled from the automated Maps on Demand (MOD) system and immediately the system began a repeat of the process to regenerate another 55,000 maps in the next three years.

Ms. Craun, as Director of the NGTOC, is responsible for a wide range of functions in support of maintaining a seamless, current, nationally consistent coverage of base geospatial data for the United States. It was the availability of these data that made US Topo possible. The Center also develops a wide range of digital and graphic products, including USGS topographic maps and digital and graphic products, and data services from The National Map. The Center manages several broadly scoped contract mechanisms for acquisition of geospatial products and services through the commercial sector.

Ms. Craun also is a fitting recipient of the CaGIS Distinguished Career Award in the broader scope of her cartographic and geospatial activities. Ms. Craun received a B.S. degree in Geology from the University of Missouri-Kansas City in 1984 and an M.S. degree in Photogrammetry from Purdue University in 1987. Prior to coming into her current position, Ms. Craun was Chief of the USGS Central Region Partnership Office. There she was responsible for development of partnerships with other federal, state, and local governments, as well as with the private and academic sectors, for furthering the development of the National Spatial Data Infrastructure. She had previously worked in other positions with the USGS in both Rolla, Missouri, as Chief of the Mid-Continent Mapping Center, and in Reston, Virginia. Before joining the USGS in 1988, she was with the Defense Mapping Agency in San Antonio, Texas, and Brookmont, Maryland.

Ms. Craun has also served CaGIS in a variety of capacities for many years as a CaGIS individual member, Board member, president, and treasurer and in activities in conference organization and management. She served on the organizing Committees for Auto Carto Symposia and the 2017 International Cartographic Conference (ICC) in Washington, D.C. In addition to being on the 2017 ICC organizing committee, she also served as CaGIS treasurer during that time managing the conference budget.

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