Click here to download the 2023 CoGNA Program:

CoGNA 2023 Program


Portland, Oregon - 2023

The next annual conference is in Portland, Oregon - hosted by the Oregon Geographic Names Board - and runs September 12-16th, 2023.  Please see posted agenda or collapsible menu below for more information, or email for direct questions.  There are online and in-person registration opportunities, and more information can be found on the registration site at the link in blue here:

External link opens in new tab or windowRegister Here



Designed to be educational, the annual conference provides workshops, academic papers, and discussions that bring decision makers from federal and state agencies, academia, and the public together. The conferences are the only avenue where the state and federal geographic names authorities can meet to share information on place naming principles, policies, procedures, and other aspects of toponymic issues.  Each year the annual conference provides the primary forum for exchange of common-interest information with respect to the official designation of names for relevant geographic features and cultural entities within geographical areas over which the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (USBGN) and state authorities have responsibility.  An official meeting of the Domestic Names Committee (DNC) of the USBGN provides an informative forum for the state authorities to observe the committee’s deliberation of geographic names issues; a true learning experience.  Representatives of the State authorities use the conference to seek information and/or advice from the USBGN and associated federal agencies.  The forum provides the opportunity for CoGNA to make recommendations to the USBGN and/or associated federal and state agencies.  Members from academia and anyone with an interest in any aspect of geographic names are invited to present research papers and conduct workshops to share information about geographic names.

The annual conferences of the Council have convened under different names since its inception.  In 1977, the tradition of an annual meeting began under the heading of the Intermountain States Geographic Names Conference as an informative meeting.  The meeting name was changed to the Western States Geographic Names Conference in 1979 , leading to the forming of the Western States Geographic Names Council (WSGNC) in 1982.  In 1998 the WSGNC was reorganized to the Council of Geographic Names Authorities to accommodate the expanding role of the conference and establish an organization that included all State Geographic Names Authorities in the United States.

Intermountain States Geographic Names Conference

1977 Salt Lake City, UT

1978 Salt Lake City, UT

1979 Menlo Park, CA

Western States Geographic Names Conferences

1980 Salt Lake City, UT

1981 Mt. Hood, WA

1982 Denver, CO

Conferences of the Western States Geographic Names Council

1983 Boise, ID

1984 Bijou, CA

1985 Cheyenne, WY

1986 Scottsdale, AZ

1987 Reno, NV

1988 Seattle, WA

1989 Mt. Hood, WA

1990 Washington D.C.

1991 Santa Fe, NM

1992 Astoria, OR

1993 El Paso, TX

1994 Rapid City, SD

1995 Wagoner, OK

1996 Salt Lake City, UT

1997 Flagstaff, AZ

1998 Cody, WY



Conferences of the Council of Geographic Names Authorities (CoGNA)

1999 Spokane, WA

2000 St. Louis, MO

2001 Boise, ID

2002 Baltimore, MD

2003 Pacific Grove, CA

2004 Jacksonville, FL

2005 Portland, OR

2006 Boulder, CO

2007 Lexington, KY

2008 Oklahoma City, OK

2009 Charleston, SC

2010 Springfield, MO

2011 Honolulu, HI

2012 No Conference

2013 Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN

2014 Austin, TX

2015 Anchorage, AK

2016 Reno, NV

2017 Richmond, VA

2018 Tacoma, WA

2019 Baton Rouge, LA

2020 Portland, OR
Canceled due to Covid-19
2021 Columbia, MO
Canceled due to Covid-19
 2022 Frederick, MD

2023 Portland, OR

2024, Columbia, MO

In planning

 2025 Denver, CO

In Planning

Overview of Conferences

Conferences are designed as educational-informational-training sessions to be beneficial and enjoyable to anyone involved with geographic names.  The programs offer information, both of local interest and practical interest to those who work with geographic names. Beginning in 2022, CoGNA will offer certification for State Names Authorities' representatives attending the conference, having been part of the State Round-Table workshop, Federal training(s), State Reports, a U.S. Board on Geographic Names meeting, and CoGNA Business Meeting.

The annual conference of CoGNA is designed for representatives of U.S. states and territories' geographic names boards, yet is open to representatives from other countries, academic institutions, geographic agencies, or anyone with an interest in any aspect of geographic names. In attendance at the conference are representatives, deputies, members and staff of state authorities, the USBGN, other state and federal agencies; advisory groups; academia; and representatives from federal or state/province agencies of other countries.  The following items are normally included in each conference providing information for anyone with an interest in geographic names:

(1) A meeting of the Domestic Names Committee (DNC) with the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (USBGN);

(2) Federal training session(s) (topics vary annually)

(3) A State/Federal Round-Table Workshop

(4) Annual business meeting of the Council of Geographic Names Authorities (CoGNA)

(5) Academic paper presentations

(6) A meeting of the hosting state's geographic names authority (if possible - determined by host state)

(7) Educational toponymic tour of the local host region

(8) Other geographic name workshops (as time allows)


People around the world are discussing the value of their place naming practices.  Central to these discussions are the concerns of having their place names recognized as “official”.   However, this topic usually creates as much tension as it does questions.  Who is the authority that decides what is recognized as “official”?  Does the process change if the Indigenous place names are within federally recognized Indigenous lands?  How does government sanctioned naming standardization marginalize Indigenous naming practices?   How can people pronounce printed characters with which they are not familiar? How does this impact emergency rescue personnel?  Conference officials try to provide answers to these questions.


The goal of each conference is to facilitate a discussion of topics in regard to the standardization practices of the U.S. Board on Geographic Names (USBGN) and other geographic names issues.


Conferences provide a unique opportunity to explore and discuss the combined knowledge and expertise with all of whom have a vested interest in the inner workings of the USBGN and state boards or committees. Conferences also afford the opportunity to receive training and access to the most up to date information at the Federal level, and by participating in the conference and attending predetermined elements of the conference, the opportunity for annual certification by CoGNA for state names authorities attending the conference is provided.

Program Highlights

The conferences are intended for representatives from state (and territory) names boards or authorities. However, CoGNA is open to the public to registration at the annual conferences for the purposes of education and inclusive dialogue pertaining to the topic of place names (toponyms). Registration fees include all conference materials, welcome & closing receptions, and admission to all daytime conference sessions. Beginning in 2022, conferences will have a certification process, by which state representatives will be offered certification in most recent policies and procedures having participated in four key components of the conference.  Conferences conclude with an optional and educational-toponymic field workshop.


Past Conference Agendas (click below):

CoGNA 2022 Agenda