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May 27, 2014
By Rachel Sielaff, media relations assistant
Northwest Missouri State University alumnus Steven Wallach was inducted into the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency (NGA) Hall of Fame in a ceremony May 6 at the agency's headquarters in Springfield, Va.
Wallach had a long and distinguished career providing geospatial intelligence to the U.S. defense and intelligence communities as both a government employee and member of the private sector. He is credited with many significant contributions to the industry, one of which was leading the effort to have the “geospatial analyst” role recognized as an official occupation within the agency and later the intelligence community. He currently works as an independent consultant to industry and the agency.
“I am humbled and honored to be inducted into NGA’s Hall of Fame,” Wallach said. “When you look at any accomplishment, you can’t succeed by yourself; you have the help and support of many other people. We’re all successful because of the people we interact with.”
In 1995, Wallach led a study that inspired the Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM), which was the first collaborative shuttle mission between the Department of Defense and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration since the Challenger disaster. The mission mapped 80 percent of the Earth's surface.
Wallach's nomination package also cites his leadership style and years spent mentoring of agency employees.
NGA delivers geospatial intelligence to policymakers, warfighters, intelligence professionals and first responders. Members of the agency's Hall of Fame have demonstrated significant accomplishment at NGA or one of its heritage organizations. Criteria includes accomplishment that transformed NGA operations; a legacy of leadership that exemplifies the NGA tradition and core values; provision of geospatial intelligence, or GEOINT, that enabled the country to resolve a national security crisis; being responsible for a technological or analytic innovation that now provides greater geospatial understanding throughout the U.S. government; or other support or sacrifices made that personified or enhanced the NGA mission.
“Mr. Wallach’s significant contributions and selfless dedication to the geospatial intelligence mission have earned him honor and respect, as well as a distinguished place in the NGA Hall of Fame,” NGA Director Letitia A. Long said.
Wallach graduated from Northwest in 1977 with a Bachelor of Science degree in Earth science. He said that he learned a lot at the University, but not all of it was inside a classroom.
“Part of the reason you go to school is to not only get the basic information that’s in books but also how to interact and work with others,” Wallach said. “Learning to interact socially and how to build networks is integral and part of what I learned at Northwest. I learned to work as a member of a team, learned to be a leader and to be a follower. All of that, along with what you learn in the classroom, is important. You can be the smartest person in the world but if you can’t get along with others, you aren’t going to get far.”
Wallach came to Northwest in 1973 on a football scholarship and said he stayed at the University after an injury ended his football career because of the people he met.
“The thing about northwest Missouri, the University and Maryville is you walk around the University and town square and people are friendly and say hello,” Wallach said. “Everyone gets along really well and are friendly. I met a lot of really good people at Northwest. I loved the students and faculty.”
Wallach continued his education after graduating from Northwest. He obtained a Master of Arts degree in computer resource management from Webster University. He is also a graduate of the Armed Forces Staff College in Norfolk, Va., the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C., and several other defense and intelligence study programs.
He and his wife, Melissa, a 1977 Northwest alumna, are members of the University’s St. Louis Alumni Chapter and annually participate in the Shawna Zech/Scott Bostwick Classic Golf Tournament.
Mark Hornickel, Communication Manager
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