Welcome to Part 1 of our National Geography Awareness Week Story Series in partnership with the National Geographic Society!  We're celebrating this special week by highlighting five innovative young professionals and students who are blazing their own paths in geography.  We'll post a new interview every day this week, so check back often.  On Friday, we'll bring all of our new friends together in a virtual panel discussion.

Reed Tomlinson, Chattanooga, Tennessee

Meet Reed Tomlinson, a 26 year-old geo rock star.  Reed started his own GIS-centric nonprofit and co-founded a start up company that combines augmented reality and GIS to solve real-world problems.   
Learn about Reed's Geo Journey in a 5 minute clip.

Claim to Fame:

  • Built multiple companies from the ground up.
  • President and Founder of EduContribution, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that pairs GIS grad students with small nonprofits. 
  • Chief Technology Officer of Carbon Objects, a new start up company in Chattanooga, TN.
  • Serves on the URISA Vanguard Cabinet

Geo Shout Out:

"Finding creative ways to use geographic and civic data has always been the best part of my non-profit and for-profit jobs. When you can use data to add new context or new information to a real-world location, you can create a new sense of place, and that's always been fascinating to me."

Zig Zags:

"I landed my first real job after college through networking and volunteering.  I’ve had nine employers and twelve positions in the last three and half years.  Each position has been different, but each one builds on the previous ones. Don’t be afraid to pivot when you stop learning and growing."

Advice Byte:

"Network, network network!  You need to step out from behind your keyboard, even if it doesn’t come naturally to you.  In the end, business is about people, and learning to build those relationships is not something that’s taught in more technical fields of study.  It’s something that has to be practiced and learned, but once you do, it’s a joy in itself."


"I've been with a couple of failed startups. It's hard to move past a career failure. It can affect your confidence and your motivation.  All you can do is move on: make a plan, and move forward.  Don’t let one moment affect your big picture plans.  Chase your own curiosity and your own growth, and you never know where you’ll end up."

Who Inspires You?

"Success isn’t earned on your own.  I couldn't have done it without my wonderful colleagues, who always push and challenge me.  Also, my parents are entrepreneurs who lead a very full, balanced life.  They've always been an inspiration to me."

Stay in Touch

Munch on More Stories in this Series:

Part 2
Lauren Herwehe
globetrotter & geo student
Part 3
Mike Colosimo
geo business starter
Part 4
Sam Zuhlke
geo educator

Written by Rachel Kornak, GISP, Creative Director & Editor of GeoPivot Magazine.  This story series is brought to you by National Geographic Education in celebration of 2013 National Geography Awareness Week and the 125th birthday of the National Geographic Society. Check out their blog for more exciting geography stories.  Special thanks to Justine Kendall, the Geography Awareness Week Program Coordinator for making this story series possible.


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