Explore the 2017 Innovation Awards Story Map

The 2017 NADO Innovation Awards Story Map is now live!  Created by our partners at Esri, the map provides the stories behind each of the award-winning projects.  Each year, the Innovation Awards program honors NADO members for their creative approaches to advancing regional community and economic development and improved quality of life.  These projects have made significant impacts on their regions and demonstrate the diversity of services and program delivery provided by regional development organizations across the country.

The projects were recognized at a special reception during NADO’s 2017 Annual Training Conference, held September 9-12  in Anchorage, AK.  For additional information, contact NADO Research Foundation Program Manager Brett Schwartz at [email protected].

Click to view the Story map
Click image to view the Story Map

The 2017 class of award recipients consists of 80 projects spanning 21 states:


  • Lee-Russell Council of Governments, Red Clay Brewing Company
  • West Alabama Regional Commission, Pickens County Utility Systems Mapping


  • Greenlee County, Health – The Highway to Greenlee County, Arizona


  • Apalachee Regional Planning Council, Chattahoochee to Bristol Trail Feasibility Study
  • Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Avon Park Air Force Range Joint Land Use Study Public Awareness Videos
  • Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Greater Auburndale JPA Overlay District Land Development Regulations
  • East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, The Route Condition Tool
  • East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Delivered Justice Full Scale Exercise
  • East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Kissimmee Medical Arts District Program
  • North Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Experience North Florida By Bicycle
  • South Florida Regional Planning Council, Infrastructure Protection Resources: Improving the Planning Process to Protect Infrastructure Emerging from Coastal Flood Hazards
  • Treasure Coast Regional Planning Council, Village of Tequesta US Master Plan and Complete Streets Project
  • West Florida Regional Planning Council, rideOn Commuter Services
  • West Florida Regional Planning Council, Emerald Coast Transportation Symposium


  • Georgia Association of Regional Commissions, Georgia MAP-21 Program
  • Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, Sautee Nacoochee Center Campus Plan
  • Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, Lake Lanier Olympic Venue Project
  • Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, Nifco KTW America Building Construction Project
  • Middle Georgia Regional Commission, City of Perry Housing Assessment  
  • Middle Georgia Regional Commission, Wellness Sustainability
  • Southern Georgia Regional Commission, Valdosta and Lowndes County Complete Streets Suitability
  • Southern Georgia Regional Commission, Innovative Resource Management through Enhanced Web-Based Mapping Applications
  • Southern Georgia Regional Commission, Improving Citizen Service Through Improved Work Order Management


  • East Central Iowa Council of Governments, Facilitate, Fund, Flourish: Community Development Through Revolving Loan Funds   
  • Region XII Council of Governments, Public Transit to Support Employment


  • Northern Kentucky Area Development District, NKY Community Cat Diversion Project
  • Purchase Area Development District, Merryman House Expansion


  • Northern Maine Development Commission, Proper Planning for Small Business Success


  • Mid-Minnesota Development Commission, McLeod County Trails Plan
  • Region Five Development Commission, Sprout Growers and Makers Marketplace
  • Region Nine Development Commission, Climate Change Adaptation Planning  


  • Central Mississippi Planning & Development District, Copiah County Medical Center
  • East Central Planning & Development District, MCC-Riley Workforce Development Center
  • East Central Planning & Development District, Kemper County Economic Development Building Expansion
  • Northeast Mississippi Planning & Development District, Marshall County Rockfon Infrastructure Project
  • Northeast Mississippi Planning & Development District, Alcorn County/Public Building Improvements/Avectus
  • Northeast Mississippi Planning & Development District, Town of Byhalia Industrial Road Improvements
  • Three Rivers Planning & Development District, The Furniture Academy  

New Mexico

  • Southwest New Mexico Council of Governments, Southwest New Mexico Green Energy and Jobs

New York

  • Southern Tier East Regional Planning Development Board, Area Development Online Application

North Carolina

  • Eastern Carolina Council, Carteret County Waterway Prioritization System
  • Land of Sky Regional Council, Community Led Fall Prevention
  • Land of Sky Regional Council, RIDE (Ridership Independence for the Disabled and Elderly)
  • Land of Sky Regional Council, Backpacks to Briefcases
  • Piedmont Triad Regional Council, Collaboration for Greener Homes
  • Triangle J Council of Governments, TJCOG Livability Self-Assessment for Local Governments and Toolkit
  • Triangle J Council of Governments, Triangle J Transportation Demand Management
  • Triangle J Council of Governments, Triangle Area Water Supply Monitoring Project
  • Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments, UCP Brownfields Coalition
  • Western Piedmont Council of Governments, Priorities First, Let’s Communicate


  • Buckeye Hills Regional Council, Marietta Collaborative Parking Inventory


  • Greater Eastern Oregon Development Corporation / Northeast Oregon Economic Development District, Supporting Eastern Oregon’s New Natural Resource Economy
  • Mid-Columbia Economic Development District, Gorge Night Sky
  • Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development, Inc., SOREDI “Edge” Campaign
  • Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development, Inc., SOREDI Virtual Buildings


  • SEDA-Council of Governments, Central PA Asset Based Economy – Outdoor Recreation and Tourism as an Economic Engine
  • SEDA-Council of Governments, Flood Mitigation and Resiliency Planning  

South Carolina

  • Berkeley Charleston Dorchester Council of Governments, BCDCOG Blog
  • Catawba Regional Council of Governments, Chester County Industrial Site Analysis
  • Catawba Regional Council of Governments, Chester County Gateway Master Plan
  • Central Midlands Council of Governments, Central SC Stronger Economies Together (SET)
  • Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments, Heartfelt Patriotism
  • Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments, “Hire Me” – Industry-Specific Regional Hiring Events for Economic Development Prospects
  • Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments, Understanding the Green Heart of South Carolina: Santee-Lynches Green Infrastructure Inventory  
  • Upper Savannah Council of Governments, Greenwood Genetic Center Strategic Plan
  • Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments, WIOA Young Adult Career Readiness Boot Camp
  • Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments, Career and Technology Education (CATE) Employability Initiative

South Dakota

  • South Eastern Council of Governments, Solid Waste Management Financing Partnership


  • First Tennessee Development District, CareerQuest TN
  • Southwest Tennessee Development District, MyRide West TN
  • Southwest Tennessee Development District, REDI College Access Program – Any College Simulation
  • Upper Cumberland Development District, Clay County Comprehensive Plan Project


  • Alamo Area Council of Governments, Securing the Future of Joint Base San Antonio through Regional Land Use Coordination
  • Ark-Tex Council of Governments, Paris Metro Fixed-Route Bus Service
  • Central Texas Council of Governments, Veterans Directed Health Care Program
  • Heart of Texas Council of Governments, Bringing State-of-the-Art 9-1-1 Technology to the Rural HOTCOG Region


  • Six County Association of Governments/Economic Development District, Six County Area Sector Analysis Process (ASAP)


  • New River Valley Regional Commission, Mapping and Data Partnership with the New River Health District
  • Richmond Regional Planning District Commission, The Capital Region Collaborative
  • Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, Where the Sidewalk Ends: RIDE Solutions Mobility Tour

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Contact Joe D'Antonio

Regional Development Researcher Andrew Coker joined the NADO team in March of 2023 after spending two and a half years as the Regional Economic Resiliency Coordinator at West Central Arkansas Planning and Development District. Andrew holds a bachelor’s degree from Hendrix College and a master’s degree from the University of Arkansas Clinton School of Public Service.

At NADO, Andrew conducts research on the newest economic and community development best practices from Economic Development Districts across the country. He helps produce easily digestible information on complex regional issues through case studies, tip sheets, and research reports. Andrew also hosts training and professional development opportunities including conference sessions and virtual webinars for member regional development organizations.

Andrew is one of our Missouri-based team members and enjoys reading and training for his next triathlon.

Jack Morgan came to the NADO team in 2022 after seven years with the National Association of Counties (NACo) as a Program and Senior Program Manager. Prior to NACo, Jack was a Policy Analyst for Friends of Southwest Virginia. Jack holds a bachelor’s in geography from Emory & Henry College and a master’s in geography from Appalachian State University.

As a NADO Senior Program Manager, Jack leads capacity-building and peer-learning work supporting energy communities in economic transition, regional resilience, and recreation economies. He also helps with the EDA-Austin training program Emerging Leaders.

Jack is certified by the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP) and is a member of the American Planning Association (APA) in the Regional & Intergovernmental Planning division. He also serves on the Emory & Henry College Alumni Board.

Taking road trips, reading non-fiction, and indulging in top-notch barbecue and coffee round out Jack’s days. He loves maps, mountains, and of course, all things sports.

Karron Grant joined the NADO team in 2023 as Administrative Specialist and is the first face (or voice) you’ll see or hear when reaching out to NADO. As Administrative Specialist, Karron manages our database and coordinates NADO event operations. He ensures members’ needs are met, contact information stays current, and NADO’s office is running efficiently.

Karron came to NADO after four years in the classroom teaching at The New Century School and Old Mill Middle North where he received the Patriot of the Year award. He attended Towson University and the University of Maryland Global Campus and holds a bachelor’s in international studies and humanities.

Visiting art galleries and museums, playing basketball and bowling, and taking in movies and music are some of Karron’s interests and hobbies.

Deputy Executive Director Laurie Thompson has been with NADO for 25 years. Laurie helps keep the NADO and NADO Research Foundation wheels turning through management of the daily operations of the Research Foundation, securing financial resources and overseeing grants management, and helping execute NADO’s Annual Training Conference each year.

Laurie holds a bachelor’s in public affairs and government from Mount Vernon College and a master’s in health services administration from The George Washington University. Prior to NADO, Laurie spent time as a Field Specialist and an Eagle Staff Fund Director at First Nations Development Institute.

When she’s taking a rare reprieve from her NADO work, Laurie enjoys traveling domestically and internationally to visit friends and family.

Jamie McCormick joined the NADO team as a Policy Fellow first in 2019, then moved into her current role as Legislative Associate in 2021. As Legislative Associate, Jamie keeps NADO members apprised of any policy and regulatory issues and communicates NADO’s policy priorities to federal stakeholders and partner organizations. She is also the first stop for members with inquiries on policy issues. The planning and execution of NADO & DDAA’s annual Washington Conference is also managed by Jamie.

Jamie holds a dual bachelor’s in political science and international relations from The State University of New York College at Geneseo and a master’s in international development studies from The George Washington University. In addition to her roles at NADO, Jamie also worked as a Legislative Assistant for the Northeastern Retail Lumber Association.

Outside of her NADO work, Jamie is an active volunteer with the VOLO Kids Foundation and a fundraiser for YMCA youth programs. She is also NADO’s resident baker regularly providing treats for those in NADO’s D.C. office. Traveling, taking her pup on walks, and hiking in the northeast keep Jamie busy. 

Brett Schwartz began at NADO in 2012 as a Research Fellow after earning his J.D. from the University of Baltimore School of Law. The following year, he was promoted to Program Manager and has now been leading as an Associate Director since 2018. Brett is responsible for managing NADO’s Economic Development District Community of Practice (EDD CoP), as well as researching and monitoring the latest trends in regional economic development and resilience, including best practices for the Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS). With more than a decade of experience on the NADO team, Brett is a dynamic relationship builder helping connect and build capacity among the national network of regional development organizations.

Brett also holds a bachelor’s degree from Georgetown University and a master’s from Trinity College Dublin, as well as a certificate in mediation training. He’s a member of Catalyst Grantmakers of San Diego and Imperial Counties and was a participant in the 2021-22 Field Trips to the Future Cohort.

Brett is one of NADO’s West Coast team members residing in San Diego, CA where he enjoys spending time outdoors, attending concerts and festivals, and soaking up life as a parent of two young children.  

Communications Manager Katie Allison joined the team in 2023 to lead the strategic communication efforts of NADO. Katie creates and develops print and online materials, communicates NADO’s updates to members via weekly emails, and maintains content for nado.org and NADO’s social media channels. She also works with different departments to generate new ideas and strategies to effectively describe and promote the important work NADO is doing for EDDs and RDOs across the country.

An experienced nonprofit communications professional, Katie has worked for organizations in western North Carolina for nearly a decade. She holds a bachelor’s in communications from Wingate University where she was a four-year student athlete. Katie has also completed Vision Henderson County, a comprehensive leadership development program that promotes informed and committed civic volunteerism.

Katie stays busy trying to keep up with her two young sons whom she enjoys exploring the Blue Ridge Mountains with. Traveling to new and favorite places and cheering on the Atlanta Braves are some of her family’s favorite pastimes.

Senior Program Manager Ciara Ristig has been a member of the NADO team since 2021, and helps with NADO’s EDD Community of Practice, EDD staff capacity building and other grants on a range of subjects, including equity and solar energy. Before NADO, Ciara worked as a Planner for the County of Santa Barbara and an Assistant Project Manager for REM Consult. Ciara holds a bachelor’s in urban studies and French from Bryn Mawr and a master’s in urban studies from Ecole d’Urbanisme de Paris.

When she’s not traveling, you can find her outrigger paddling and serving on the board of the Blue Sky Center in New Cuyama, CA, near her home base of Santa Barbara.

Carrie Kissel has been a member of the NADO team since 2005 when she began as a Research Fellow. She later moved into the roles of Program Manager in 2006, and then Associate Director in 2011. Carrie holds a bachelor’s in anthropology from Ball State University and a master’s in public anthropology from American University. As Associate Director, Carrie oversees NADO’s work in rural transportation and rural wealth creation. She provides technical assistance and support to rural regions on transportation and economic development issues and develops training and peer exchange events on transportation issues and rural wealth creation as an economic development strategy.

Carrie is a member of the Transportation Research Board (TRB) and secretary of TRB’s Rural Transportation Issues Coordinating Council. She is also a member of the American Anthropological Association and the National Association for the Practice of Anthropology.

Reading, gardening, hiking, and kayaking are a few of Carrie’s hobbies, and she organizes and facilitates a DEI/social justice-focused book club in her community.

Melissa Levy has worked at NADO as a Regional Development Researcher since February 2023 and is the Principal Consultant at her own firm specializing in wealth-based economic development consulting. With a career spanning nearly 30 years, Melissa brings a breadth of knowledge to her role as a Regional Development Researcher. Melissa provides in-depth research, coaching, and training on regional economic resilience, rural wealth creation strategies, and economic development.

Melissa is a North American Food Systems Network trained AgriCluster Resilience and Expansion (ACRE) facilitator and a WealthWorks coach, facilitator, and trainer. In addition to her professional work, Melissa serves on the Vermont Urban and Community Forestry Council, on the board of the Hinesburg Community Resource Center, and on the Hinesburg Economic Development Committee.

A true outdoorswoman, Melissa enjoys cross country and downhill skiing, paddleboarding, hiking, biking, and kayaking, as well as yoga, and teaching Tai Chi.

Program Manager Krishna Kunapareddy began her role with NADO in February of 2023 after 14 years of service at Boonslick Regional Planning Commission in Missouri. Krishna manages NADO Research Foundation’s Planning and Environmental Linkages and Center for Environmental Excellence projects. In addition to researching and writing, Krishna also conducts virtual workshops on innovative tools and techniques related to transportation planning.

She holds an undergraduate degree from Andhra University and a master’s from JNT University in India, as well as a master’s in city and regional planning from the University of Texas at Arlington. Krishna is also a certified Smart Cities Academy Practitioner and holds the Location Advantage certificate from geographic information system software company ESRI.

In her spare time, Krishna volunteers with Mentors4College helping high schoolers better plan for their post-high school paths. She is also a dedicated advocate for documented H4 Dreamers.

Krystal DeLeon joined the NADO team in October of 2020 as Database & Grants Manger, but in January of 2022 transitioned to her current role as Operations Manager. Krystal keeps NADO running through behind the scenes work of invoicing, solving any database issues that may arise, producing membership reports, and much more. Her organizational skills and thorough knowledge help the NADO team operate more efficiently across all departments.

Prior to NADO, Krystal was the Conference Services Coordinator for State Services Organization. She is a Certified Meeting Professional (CMP), a licensed realtor, and holds a bachelor’s in psychology from Liberty University. When she’s not keeping NADO’s operations in order, Krystal enjoys running and rock climbing, and adventuring with her husband and son.

Senior Program Manager Bret Allphin joined NADO in April of 2022 bringing with him a wealth of knowledge after a 20-year career with Buckeye Hills Regional Council in Marietta, Ohio. In addition to his bachelor’s in political science and master’s in public affairs, Bret is licensed Geographical Information Systems Professional (GISP). He is NADO’s go-to team member for all things mapping while also supporting members with transportation and economic development technical assistance services.

An avid sports aficionado and former collegiate athlete, Bret enjoys cheering on his Cincinnati Reds, hitting the trails on his mountain bike, and improving his golf game whenever possible. Bret is an involved community member in Marietta dedicating much of his spare time to serving on local nonprofit boards.

Contact Karron Grant

Applications cannot be saved and returned to at a later time. It is recommended you compile all of your information in advance in a word processor and cut and paste into the application below.

2023 Impact Awards

The primary applicant must be a NADO member. Project partners, both NADO and non-members, can be recognized under "Project Partners" below.

Primary Project Contact:
This person will be the designated point of contact for all future awards-related correspondence.

Organization Address

Project Location (if different from Organization Address)

Executive Director

Additional Organizational Information
Please upload your organization's logo which will be included on the winning project award certificate.

Project Information
This title will be printed on the award certificate for winning projects and in all 2022 NADO Impact Award materials and cannot be changed.

Project Summary & Questions
Please craft clear, thoughtful, and engaging responses to the following questions. Use the following sections to tell us how your project has made an impact, such as its use of creative funding mechanisms, efforts to create efficiencies or reduce costs, unique partnership models, and emphasis on building resilience and/or enhancing your region's quality of life.

For award-winning projects, the information provided below may be used verbatim to inform project descriptions that will be published in the 2023 NADO Impact Awards materials and included on the NADO website.

Please submit at least one photo showing your project in action. Please keep file size to a minimum (<2Mb) and use JPEG format. If uploading multiple files, ZIP files prior to submitting. If you have trouble uploading images they can be directly emailed to Brett Schwartz at [email protected]. Include the project title they correspond to in the subject line of your email.

Note: Submitted photos may be used in NADO Impact Awards materials and in other NADO published materials with credit to your organization. Please also consider submitting photos for NADO's 2023 Photo Contest, which will be held this summer.

Your application is not submitted until you are directed to a confirmation page. If you have any questions or are unsure if your application has been submitted, please contact Brett Schwartz at [email protected]

Contact Melissa Levy

Contact Krishna Kunapareddy

Contact Andrew Coker

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New Speaker Inquiry

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Joe McKinney serves as Executive Director of the National Association of Development Organizations (NADO). Headquartered in Washington DC, NADO provides advocacy, education, research, and training for the nation’s 500+ regional planning and development organizations.

Joe has thirty-one years of experience having served in city, county, regional, national association, and government management since 1991. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Public Policy Analysis from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and is a candidate for a master’s degree in Public Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill.

McKinney has provided congressional testimony on numerous occasions regarding the importance of regional development organizations in helping shape the nation’s economic growth. He is nationally recognized for promoting innovative solutions in areas such as planning and economic development, workforce development, transportation and transit, and aging services.

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