A passion for education runs in Dr. Camelia Kantor’s genes. With her mother, father, and much of her extended family having careers in education, they naturally influenced Kantor—setting the stage for a fulfilling career that has now led her to USGIF.
In July, Kantor became USGIF’s new director of academic programs. She joined the Foundation with nine years of experience in college-level teaching, course development, and research in addition to four years of K-12 teaching in the U.S. and abroad.
At the time, my summer and winter holidays were spent as a tourist guide in my village in Romania to help my parents with additional income. So geography became a logical enhancement to languages, and the reason why I started a three-year certificate in geoinformatics and tourism.” — Dr. Camelia Kantor
“While it took USGIF some time to fill our director of academic programs position, our patience was rewarded in the hiring of Camelia,” said USGIF CEO Keith Masback. “She brings a deep academic background in geography combined with substantial passion for learning and discovery, including an absolute buy-in to the unique interdisciplinary approach required to convey GEOINT in an academic setting.”
Kantor was born and raised in Romania, and has long held an interest in languages. She is a multi-linguist, speaking English, French, Italian, and Romanian fluently. When she pursued her undergraduate degree majoring in both English and French, Kantor discovered the usefulness of geography.
“At the time, my summer and winter holidays were spent as a tourist guide in my village in Romania to help my parents with additional income,” she said. “So geography became a logical enhancement to languages, and the reason why I started a three-year certificate in geoinformatics and tourism.”
This was the start of Kantor’s academic GEOINT career. She then went on to earn a Ph.D. in geography from Babes-Bolyai University in Romania. She also holds a master’s degree in regional planning with a concentration in border conflicts, a master’s of business administration, and a master’s degree in educational administration.
For the past nine years, Kantor worked at Claflin University, in Orangeburg, S.C. At Claflin, she designed, secured funding for, and implemented a modern and innovative geography curriculum. This, in addition to many of her other accomplishments, earned her the Association of American Geographers’ 2017 Dr. Helen Ruth Aspaas SAGE Innovator award.
Now, as part of the USGIF team, Kantor is on a mission to expand the Foundation’s educational programs. Her role includes overseeing USGIF’s Collegiate GEOINT Accreditation Program, which awards students GEOINT Certificates accompanying their college degrees. Another of Kantor’s first initiatives will be to integrate elements of USGIF’s GEOINT Essential Body of Knowledge and Universal GEOINT Certification Program with the accreditation program to better prepare students entering the GEOINT workforce.
“I’m excited to have the opportunity to work much closer with the GEOINT Community,” she said. “My major goal is to help make GEOINT education and training relevant, not only to today’s job market, but to future society needs. I am a strong supporter of public-private partnerships in ensuring students are equipped with the appropriate skills and competencies and that they have the opportunity to keep up with such a rapidly changing environment through pertinent continuing education and training.”
Kantor will also play an integral role in the USGIF Scholarship Program as well as the Foundation’s ever-expanding K-12 educational outreach program.
Outside of work, Kantor enjoys spending time with her husband and young daughter. While living in South Carolina, the family entertained friends with homemade traditional Romanian food and Kantor was involved with the local community via initiatives dedicated to sustainable economic development, international culture appreciation, and food-based allergy nutrition and awareness in schools. She plans to continue this lifestyle and advocacy at her new home in Northern Virginia.