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A Friend

Mark is a selfless promoter of smart people, and good ideas. Throughout his career, Mark has promoted women in GIS and given countless students the tools they needed to be successful professionals in the field in his role as a Professor of GIS at PSU. I think from a professional standpoint, his greatest accomplishment – and what he is most proud of – is the students and colleagues that have gone on to make something of themselves with the tools he gave them. I am one of those people.

I’ve been fortunate to work with Mark for the last several years at Metro, but I met him nearly 10 years ago while working as an intern at Metro when I was in graduate school at Cornell.  He took a personal interest in me, my work, my education and my career. He helped me with my thesis; he helped me get my first job; and once I made it back to Metro, he inspired me everyday to do amazing work.  I would not be where I am today if it was not for him, and I am certain there are many people out there that feel the same way.

Mark always approaches the world with intelligence, humor and kindness, and he is the eternal optimist. I’ve relied on him a lot through the years, and his wisdom and thoughtful approach to the world around him have been a source of comfort and inspiration to me. When he was recovering from his bone marrow transplant, I was seven months pregnant with my daughter. During this time, Mark and I both had similar dietary restrictions, our bodies had been taken over by something greater than ourselves, and neither of us could move all that fast. He also liked to joke that I gained all the fat he lost. He said it was synchronicity. My body was in the process of creating life, and he, well he was fighting for his. And so, through each of our separate journeys he said we balanced each other out, and I think he is right. While he was out, I picked up the slack for him as much as I could at work and carried on. By the time I went on maternity leave, he was better than ever and picked up the slack for me the 6 months I was on leave. The last 6 months we carried our work forward together, and I will continue to carry on until he returns.

Mark is one of my truest and closest friends. He has been a wonderful source of parental advice and guidance. I only hope to have a relationship with my daughter like he has with his. He loves his girls so much – this includes his lovely wife! Not a day ever went by that he didn’t mention them, talk about them or show you a picture of one of them. He is just so proud and I know more than anything, with them is where he wants to be.

Leila Aman