baltimore Buildings
baltimore Buildings
baltimore Buildings
20NTC Session

Sharing Engaging Stories Through Interactive Maps and Data Visualization


The Arundel Rivers Federation had a question: how could they best communicate the health of the South River in Annapolis, MD? The Chesapeake Conservancy’s Conservation Innovation Center had a solution: use a combination of mapping and app-based technology to display in a user-friendly way the scientific data the Federation collects, as well as the projects they install to restore the local waterways. This way, Arundel Rivers could answer the questions they received from community members. Is it safe to swim? Can fish survive? Is the river getting better or worse? By engaging the public about the current state of the South River, the Federation can use science, restoration and community action to make their local waters cleaner and healthier. This partnership demonstrates how small nonprofit organizations can collaborate with technical partners to leverage mapping and data technology to communicate and engage their key audiences.

Learning Outcomes

  • How to tell your organization’s story using data about your projects and initiatives without using a lot of staff time.
  • How to identify the data that will engage your audience and place value judgements on data responsibly to provide context.
  • How to form a successful partnership with a technical provider to achieve your communication needs.

Target Audience

Organizations that want to engage their audiences by organizing and displaying data creatively.


Data VizEngagementStorytellingTrends


Emily Wiggans

GIS Analyst

Chesapeake Conservancy

Emily’s work includes GIS support for the Conservation Innovation Center’s participation in the Water Data Collaborative, a group of NGOs working to make community science water quality monitoring data more accessible, and to elevate its use by incorporating geospatial analysis with monitoring results. Previously, she worked in environmental consulting on a variety of GIS and remote sensing projects including identifying BMP opportunities to offset nutrient loading to the Chesapeake Bay and high-resolution land cover change detection. She graduated from the University of Vermont in 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Environmental Science, with a focus on GIS and astronomy. Emily grew up in the Yorktown, Virginia area, and spent lots of time around the Chesapeake Bay watershed kayaking, geocaching, and hiking with her family. Outside of work, she enjoys hosting trivia night at a local brewery, sharing views of the night sky with her telescope, traveling, podcasts, and exploring Washington, D.C.

Nancy Merrill Sullivan

Outreach and Volunteer Manager

Arundel Rivers Federation

Nancy Merrill Sullivan is a South River resident and grew up as a river rat on the nearby Severn River fishing, crabbing, and in general messing about on boats. She has worked as an environmental educator for Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Friends of the Rappahannock.
She also spent 5 years at The Conservation Fund in Arlington, VA helping to get the Captain John Smith National Historic Trail established with the National Park Service.

She has her masters in Non-Profit Management from George Mason University and graduated from Cornell University as a History major. She is currently on the board of Chesapeake Legal Alliance. She has also served on the boards of Anne Arundel Medical Center Foundation in Annapolis, MD and the Discovery Creek Children’s Museum in Washington, DC. She is a certified sailing instructor and PADI scuba diver, an avid reader and traveler and enjoys refinishing furniture.





March 24, 2020


1:45pm – 3:00pm



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