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My Way to NGA: MaryAnne Tong

MaryAnne Tong, NGA Cartographer

Get an inside look at the career trajectory of one of the members of NGA’s world-class workforce, MaryAnne Tong. MaryAnne is currently a cartographer with NGA’s Maritime Safety Office. Throughout her career, MaryAnne, has worked with geographic information systems, or GIS, in a wide range of capacities, such as working with small engineering firms, city and tribal governments, Native American land management, and more. In addition to the duties of her work role, MaryAnne also serves as the primary recruiting ambassador for the agency’s American Indian Council. Read more about her “way to NGA.”


How did you hear about NGA?
I was fortunate to have worked both local and tribal governments that had funding to send GIS professionals to industry conferences. This would ensure that our GIS knowledge would progress as technology advanced. I was first made aware of NGA while attending the ESRI User Conference.  I routinely attended the ESRI User Conference for seven years and would stop at all Department of Defense booths, but NGA’s booth was the one that really impressed me the most. So what made NGA stand out? The premise of geospatial intelligence and NGA being a federal intelligence agency with a worldwide presence. Given my profession, I knew that my skillset would serve this agency well.

When did you become a NGA team member?
I became an NGA team member June 25, 2018.

What made you decide to work for NGA?
Shortly after becoming a naturalized U.S. citizen, I knew I wanted to use my GIS skills to help with NGA's mission of ‘providing GEOINT for our nation's security.’  Being able to provide worldwide impact through NGA's mission gives me a sense of pride and importance that I haven't felt at another job.

What has been your favorite memory during your time here?
What I love most about NGA is how supportive this agency is for diversity and inclusion. I have never worked for any company that promotes these initiatives. My favorite memory comes from my new employee orientation session. I clearly remember all the special emphasis groups that were offered at NGA, and seeing the American Indian Council on that slide really placed a smile on my face. This was important to me as I have worked many years within Tribal government and I also volunteer my time with not-for-profit tribal organizations, using my GIS skills to help other tribes throughout the United States.

Immediately after finishing NEOS, I submitted the paper work needed to join AIC and have been an active member since.

As you are aware, November is Native American Heritage Month, as well as the month during which National Geography Awareness Week takes place. What do these observances mean to you?
Throughout my life, I have dedicated a lot of time to working with tribal governments and Native American Land management. This work has had a special place in my heart, and is part of the reason I decided to join the American Indian Council at NGA.

Did you know that Native Americans, including Alaska Natives, make up less than 1% of the entire American population and yet many Americans are unaware of the uniqueness of each tribe and their sovereignty rights?

Native American Heritage Month should be used to emphasis and educate the American people about the history of our country and how it was founded. Awareness about the hardships Native Americans have endured and the lasting detrimental effects Native Americans still presently face since the birth of this country.

Additionally, thanks to my geospatial duties and my role as a cartographer, I’ve found a great appreciation for National Geography Awareness week in a variety of capacities—including in association with Native American Heritage Month. National Geography Awareness week educates people about how interconnected we all are with one another and how our decisions can play a major role on the effects of our environment. National Geography Awareness week can help showcase the geographical origins of American citizens and how their ancestors immigrated to America. Also, we can use geography to teach Americans about the “Trail of Tears” and the U.S. history of forced relocations of Native Americans. We can use geography to show how Native Land boundaries and ownership has changed and continues to change over time. These geographic changes have affected Native Americans quality of life.

Do you have any advice to those who are curious about working for NGA?
The opportunities that NGA offers are exceptional. This agency truly cares about their employees and invests in you, so you can grow as a person, and this is worth more than any dollar amount you can put on paper.

We appreciate MaryAnne taking time to share her journey with us. Join us next month when we feature another NGA employee’s “My Way to NGA” story.

You can read more about MaryAnne’s profile and the trajectory of her career here .

To learn more about the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, visit Also, visit  to explore new job opportunities at NGA.

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