New at the top: Map lover’s career track did not follow any regular route


Steven Stichter is the new chief executive of Kinetic Analysis (Kinetic Analysis)
January 6, 2013

I always loved maps. We took driving trips as a family in a big, old 1970s station wagon. I loved sitting up front with the map and seeing where we were going.

My career route did not follow a linear path.

I started out with a degree in computer science and worked in the field after college. While I found that I was good at the work, I wasn’t really drawn to producing a computer program for someone.

As it happened, I was living in Boston at the time during a period when Boston Harbor water quality issues were big. I got really intrigued and connected to an organization that was working on water quality and environmental issues. I found I was more interested in working together to keep problems from happening rather than working to clean up a big environmental mess after the fact.

That set me in a different direction. I entered the field of city and regional urban planning. I worked for the state of North Carolina in coastal management, thinking about how to grow and develop cities while protecting water quality.

Then out of the blue I got a call just as I was heading out on a work trip.

It was a woman who was a planner in Trinidad and Tobago. She offered me the opportunity to assist them with a short-term work project on an environmental assessment plan for a portion of the island of Tobago. I was intrigued and worked out a leave of absence to apply my expertise there.

The project helped me to see how other people think about these issues.

That work led me to the Organization of American States in the technical assistance branch focused on sustainable development in the Caribbean.

We created a Web site and information that continues to be a resource to many people.

There was a point when we needed to do some hazard mapping to inform people about the safer and less safe places to plan growth and development. One key hazard is hurricanes, and the available models at the time were not suited for Caribbean island environments.

We connected with a man who was doing modeling work on hurricanes to help. Through his initial work, he founded Kinetic Analysis years later. I was part of the founding team.

At Kinetic Analysis, we track hurricanes and earthquakes around the globe. We take the event information and run it through our models and project the hazards, impacts and consequences on everything from what the winds will be to how many people we expect to be out of electricity.

We’re not trying to put out scary numbers to frighten people. We’re just trying to use the science to give people a good understanding of what we think the effects are.

I may not have had a linear path but rather a passion for how to turn data into useful, applicable information.

Interview with Vanessa Small

Steven J. Stichter

Position: Chief executive of Kinetic Analysis, a Silver Spring company that provides hazard, impact and loss information of real-time events and long-term risks.

Career highlights: Chief operating officer, Kinetic Analysis; specialist, sustainable development unit, Organization of American States; coastal planner, North Carolina Division of Coastal Management.

Age: 48

Education: BA, computer science, Dartmouth College; Master of Regional Planning, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.

Personal: Lives in the District with his husband, Mark.

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