2023 Impact Award Recipients

Congratulations to the 2023 Aliceann Wohlbruck NADO Impact Award recipients! The annual Impact Awards program honors NADO members for their creative approaches to advancing regional economic development and improving 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 2023 class of awardees consists of 107 projects from 71 organizations spanning 28 states. These projects will be recognized at NADO’s Annual Training Conference in Cleveland, OH in November.  

Contact Brett Schwartz at [email protected] with any questions or to learn more.  

Click the image to explore the 2023 NADO Impact Awards StoryMap and learn more about each of the award-winning projects.


  • Southeast Conference, Alaska Mariculture Cluster


  • Region 9 Economic Development District of Southwest Colorado, Integration of Southwest Colorado Regional Organizations


  • Apalachee Regional Planning Council, Apalachee Regional Broadband Planning Project
  • Apalachee Regional Planning Council, Wakulla County Broadband Feasibility Study
  • Apalachee Regional Planning Council, Liberty County Broadband Feasibility Study
  • Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Imagine Bowling Green: A Downtown Vision and Action Plan
  • East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Palm Bay Economic Development Strategic Plan
  • East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Low Impact Development (LID) Implementation Ordinance Recommendations
  • East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, R2C Risk & Vulnerability Assessment
  • North Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Visit Natural North Florida Regional Tourism Marketing Campaign
  • Northeast Florida Regional Council, Town of Welaka Downtown Vision
  • South Florida Regional Planning Council, Brownfields Cleanup Revolving Loan Fund
  • Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, US 19 Corridor Development Opportunities Project
  • Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, The Regional Resiliency Action Plan (RRAP)


  • Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, Supervisor and Industry Leadership (SAIL) Academy
  • Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, Banks County Martin Bridge Infrastructure Development
  • Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, 2022 Economic Base Assessment
  • Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, Foothills Regional High School Welding Program
  • River Valley Regional Commission, Broadband Planning Coordinators Build Capacity
  • Southern Georgia Regional Commission, Regional Emergency HUB
  • Southern Georgia Regional Commission, Southern Georgia Regional Commission’s Area Agency on Aging Senior Farmers’ Market Nutrition Program
  • Southern Georgia Regional Commission, Exploring Agritourism in Southern Georgia
  • Southwest Georgia Regional Commission, Southwest Georgia Ecosystem Building


  • Clearwater Economic Development Association, Dream It Do It HERE Youth Conference
  • Region IV Development Association, Community and Business Collaboration for Prosperity


  • East Central Iowa Council of Governments, Code Enforcement Program Helps Rural Communities Address Blight
  • Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission, Assessment, Cleanup, and Rrevitalization of an Abandoned Industrial Brownfields Site (Elkem Carbide) in Keokuk, IA


  • Barren River Area Development District, BRADD’s Inaugural CEDS Summit
  • Gateway Area Development District, Gateway Region Expanded Senior Center Operations
  • Green River Area Development District, Feed Seniors Now
  • Lake Cumberland Area Development District, Healthy Elderly Living Project
  • Purchase Area Development District, Feeding America Tornado Relief Leverage Project


  • Northern Maine Development Commission, Aroostook County Broadband Initiative


  • Eastern UP Regional Planning & Development Commission, EUP Recovery Plan


  • Headwaters Regional Development Commission, Placemaking-Neighborhood Connections
  • Headwaters Regional Development Commission, Red Lake School Comprehensive Plan
  • Region Nine Development Commission, German-American Learning Exchange on Sustainability and Welcoming Communities
  • Upper Minnesota Valley Regional Development Commission, Western Minnesota Prairie Waters Regional Visitor and Relocation Guide


  • East Central Planning and Development District, Senior Farmers Market Nutrition Program
  • East Central Planning and Development District, Shloop Building Redevelopment


  • Bear Paw Development Corporation, Montana Meat and Poultry Intermediary Lending Program Coalition
  • Great Falls Development Authority, Great Falls Region PTAC Program
  • Great Falls Development Authority, Great Falls Brownfields Program
  • Great Falls Development Authority, The Fire Within


  • Southeast Nebraska Development District, Gage County Rural Broadband Partnership
  • Southeast Nebraska Development District, Small Business Stabilization

New Mexico

  • Eastern Plains Council of Governments, Eastern Plains Mental Health Program
  • Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments, Water Regionalization and Water Commons Programming

New York

  • Lake Champlain – Lake George Regional Planning Board, Building Balanced Communities for the North County: A Comprehensive Housing Study and Strategy

North Carolina

  • Central Pines Regional Council, Solarize the Triangle
  • Central Pines Regional Council, Equity and Inclusion Pilot Transportation Demand Management (TDM) Project
  • Centralina Economic Development District, Prosperity for All Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy
  • Centralina Regional Council, Regional Transportation Guide for Older Adults & People with Disabilities
  • Eastern Carolina Council, Regional Technology for Seniors
  • Foothills Regional Commission, Rutherford County Farmland Preservation Plan
  • Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments, Food as Medicine
  • Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments, Kerr-Tar Reentry Roundtable and Reentry Services
  • Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments, INNOVATE 2023: Question. Design. Thrive.  
  • Land of Sky Regional Council, INspire: Recovery to Career
  • Land of Sky Regional Council, Advancing Equity and Inclusion in Evidence-based Health Promotion Programs
  • Land of Sky Regional Council, Regional Stormwater Services Program – MS4 Information Management System
  • Lumber River Council of Governments, Lumber River Operation Heat Relief
  • Lumber River Council of Governments, Lumber River Rural Transformation Grant Assistance
  • Lumber River Council of Governments, Lumber River Redistricting
  • Mid-Carolina Regional Council, Mid-Carolina Regional Family Care Giver Program
  • Mid-Carolina Regional Council, Hometown Recovery and Resiliency
  • Mid-East Commission, Elevation & Acquisition Beaufort County North Carolina HMGP-DR 4393 Hurricane Florence
  • Mid-East Commission, Made In
  • North Carolina Association of Regional Councils of Governments, Supporting Local Recovery Through Regional Collaboration
  • Piedmont Triad Regional Council, Yadkin River State Trail
  • Piedmont Triad Regional Council, NC Triad Outdoors
  • Piedmont Triad Regional Council, Bridging the Gap
  • Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments, Creative Workforce Development OUTREACH!
  • Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments, Technical Assistance to Local Governments
  • Western Piedmont Council of Governments, Hickory MSA Economic Indicators Newsletter (25th Anniversary)
  • Western Piedmont Council of Governments, The Western Piedmont Housing Growth Toolkit


  • Buckeye Hills Regional Council, Appalachian Community Grant Program Convening
  • Buckeye Hills Regional Council, Downtown Revitalization Guidebook
  • Buckeye Hills Regional Council, Broadband Listening Sessions
  • Voinovich School of Leadership and Public Service, Ohio University, PORTSfuture


  • Northern Oklahoma Development Authority, Fairview Regional Medical Center Therapy Facility


  • Northeast Oregon Economic Development District, Wallowa County Regional Main Street


  • North Central Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission, Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy (CEDS) Interactive Dashboard
  • Northwest Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission, Northern Appalachia ARISE Summit
  • Northwest Pennsylvania Regional Planning and Development Commission, Environmental Impacts of Long Range Transportation Planning in Northwest Pennsylvania

South Carolina

  • Catawba Regional Council of Governments, Carlisle Union Regional Wastewater Extension Project
  • Lowcountry Council of Governments, Senior Technology Initiative
  • Lower Savannah Council of Governments, SC Works Lower Savannah (Workforce Development Mobile Unit)


  • Upper Cumberland Development District, Wish You Were Here! Adventures in Tennessee’s Upper Cumberland


  • Alamo Area Council of Governments, Public Service Announcement: Ending of Continuous Medicaid Coverage
  • Alamo Area Council of Governments, Texas Tall Tales Campaign
  • Ark-Tex Council of Governments, Northeast Texas Population Growth Evaluation
  • Brazos Valley Council of Governments, Older Americans Month Spring Fest
  • Brazos Valley Council of Governments, 2023 BVCOG BOOK FORWARD Campaign
  • East Texas Council of Governments, East Texas Broadband Planning Initiative
  • Heart of Texas Council of Governments, Community Public Health Expos – Area Agency on Aging of the Heart of Texas
  • Panhandle Regional Planning Commission, Innovation Outpost
  • South Plains Association of Governments, The Giles Dalby Corrections Facility: Making the Transition from Private to County Facility
  • South Plains Association of Governments, Water Wise Sessions


  • Bear River Association of Governments, Cache Summit


  • New River Valley Regional Council, New River Valley Public Health Task Force After Action Report
  • PlanRVA, Preparedness Partnership Project with Richmond Flying Squirrels Baseball Team
  • PlanRVA, PlanRVA Flood Aware: A Flood Risk Awareness Campaign in the Richmond Region
  • PlanRVA, Pathways to the Future
  • West Piedmont Planning District Commission, Boones Mill 2040, The Town’s Comprehensive Plan


  • Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Council of Governments, Spirit Lake/Toutle-Cowlitz River System Collaborative (SLTCRC)
  • Tri County Economic Development District, Filling the Broadband Gap in Northeast Washington State


  • Northwest Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission, Regional Infrastructure Systems Culvert Inventory Database

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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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Registration Questions Form

Hotel Questions Form

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.

Contact Danny Tomares

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Contact Ciara Ristig

Contact Bret Allphin

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Contact Carrie Kissel

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