2024 SWREDA Annual Conference

May 15-17, 2024 (Wednesday to Friday)

Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown
1 N Broadway Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73102
(405) 235-2780

The Southwest Region Economic Development Association (SWREDA), in partnership with the NADO Research Foundation and with support from the EDA Austin Region Office, will hold the 2024 SWREDA Annual Conference in Oklahoma City, OK, May 15-17. The conference is designed for staff from Economic Development Districts, Tribal Planning Grantees, University Centers, Revolving Loan Funds, and others engaged in economic development across the region. An Executive Directors Leadership Institute will occur at the conference location on May 14.

SWREDA 2024 will offer a slate of relevant and timely sessions—topics will cover inland ports, RLFs, project development, collaborations with new partners, and more. Attendees will also be able to learn more about EDA’s new platform EDGE, receive most up-to-date federal legislative information, and hear EDA Austin Regional Director Ayala’s 2024 State of the Region Report. The 2024 Star of the Southwest Awardees and the latest cohort of the Austin Region Training Program for Emerging Leaders will be introduced. There will also be a special opening reception. Stay tuned for details.

This year SWREDA is offering an Executive Directors Leadership Institute and two mobile workshops:
Tuesday, May 14, 2024

1:00 – 5:00 p.m.              Executive Directors Leadership Institute

This session is designed specifically for executive directors of Regional Development Organizations (RDOs) located in the Austin region. RDOs are also known as Economic Development District (EDD), Council of Governments, Planning and Development Districts, Regional Planning Commissions, and other names. No matter how long you have been on the job as an executive director, this session will have timely and relevant information for you. It is designed to offer ample opportunities for peer exchanges. There is no additional fee to attend, but you must pre-register.

Thursday, May 16, 2024

9:30 am – 12:00 pm     Oklahoma City Innovation District (OKCID) BBBRC – Oklahoma Biotech Innovation Cluster (OBIC)

Explore the various BBBRC projects that provide the foundation for the biomanufacturing ecosystem in Oklahoma City. This workshop will be a combination of presentations of all six funded projects, a walking tour of a state-of-the-art CDMO facility, and a driving tour of NE OKC and Convergence, an ecosystem reshaping Oklahoma City through innovation, collaboration, diversity and advanced technology. There is an additional fee of $40 to attend this workshop and pre-registration is required.

1:30 pm – 4:00 pm      First Americans Museum (FAM)

Learn how FAM honors and celebrates the cultures of the 39 diverse and distinct First American Nations in Oklahoma. This behind the scenes tour and discussion will offer insights into the planning and finding of FAM, its impact on the local and regional economies, and its role in sharing the important histories of the Indigenous cultures found in Oklahoma. There is an additional fee of $40 to attend this workshop and pre-registration is required.


SWREDA is located in the U.S. Economic Development Administration (EDA) Austin Region which covers the five-state area of Arkansas, Louisiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, and Texas. Please visit this page frequently as it will be updated regularly.
NADO’s Code of Conduct/Anti-harassment Policy (PDF)


Registration for the 2024 SWREDA Annual Conference is now open.

2024 SWREDA Annual Conference Registration Rates:

Early Bird – $365 (Deadline: Friday, May 3)

Regular – $415 



Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown
1 N Broadway Ave.
Oklahoma City, OK 73102

This contemporary hotel is in the area’s most dynamic neighborhood just steps from Bricktown’s wealth of dining and entertainment opportunities. Enjoy visiting nearby attractions such as Paycom Center and Chickasaw Bricktown Ballpark. Retreat to our rooms and suites with luxury bedding, flat-screen TVs, mini refrigerators and ergonomic work-spaces. 
Check-in: 3 p.m.
Check-out: 12 p.m.
On-Site Parking 
Hourly: $2 | Daily: $10 
Daily: $32
*Garage clearance 6’8. No parking of oversized vehicles.
Cancellation Policy: The Hotel maintains a 72 hour cancellation policy for individual guest room reservations.

Reservations can be made using the ‘Book Now‘ button or call 1-800-325-3535 to book over the telephone. Be sure to mention “DP1 SWREDA” to receive the group rate.

Room Rate: $110 + tax
Hotel reservation cut-off date:  April 15, 2024
The Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown (conference hotel) is currently SOLD OUT
The booking link will be active until April 22. Please check back as cancellations will come in and rooms will become available. There is no official waitlist or overflow hotel. Below are two alternative nearby options for attendees still needing a room. 
10 N Broadway Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73102
(405) 228-8000
One Park Ave, Oklahoma City, OK 73102
(405) 272-3040
If you have questions about hotel reservations, email NADO’s Meetings and Membership Manager Brittany Salazar.

Airport & Transportation

Getting to Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown Hotel

Will Rogers World Airport

Distance from Conference Hotel: 10.0 miles
Airport Transportation: Airport Express (Fee: $28 – one way). Reservation required. 
Other Transportation
Bus Station: Greyhound
Train Station: Amtrak



**This agenda is subject to change.**



Tuesday, May 14

1:00 – 5:00 pm
Executive Directors Leadership Institute Plaza North

Wednesday, May 15

1:30 – 3:00 pm
Plenary: Conference Welcome and Collaborations for Resilient Regional Development

3:15 – 4:30 pm
Plenary: Strategic Planning for Economic Development Organizations

Thursday, May 16

8:30 am – 9:30 am
Plenary: Federal Funding Opportunities

  • Cindy Axne, Senior Advisor for Rural Engagement, Delivery and Prosperity, US Department of Agriculture
  • Kevin Blake, Federal Program Officer, US Department of Commerce, National Telecommunications and Information Administration
  • Jessica Falk, Area Director, US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, Austin Region
  • Moderator: Apu Naik, Economic Development Integrator, US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, Austin Region

9:30 – 10:45 am
Operation and Optimization: Revolving Loan Funds and EDDs

EDGE Training for Construction Grantees

Inland Ports: Economic Development and Multi-Modal Assets

10:55 am – 12:00 pm
Get ‘NERDE’: A Data Deep Dive with Argonne National Laboratory

EDA Environmental Review: Demystifying the NEPA Process

Bridging the Digital Divide: Tackling Digital Access, Equity, and Resilience Through Broadband Connectivity

12:15 – 1:30 pm
Plenary Luncheon

1:45 – 3:00 pm
Developing Successful Projects for EDA Investments

Building Economically Resilient Communities

  • Vanessa Morrison, Interim Director, Institute for Quality Communities, The University of Oklahoma
  • Rebecca Blaine, AICP, Research Fellow, Institute for Quality Communities, The University of Oklahoma
  • Moderator: Mark Sweeney, Executive Director, Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG), and Vice Chair, SWREDA

University Centers: Potential for Partnerships Around the Region

3:30 – 4:45 pm
Plenary Session: Star of the Southwest Award Showcase

  • Jan Smith, Executive Director, White River Planning and Development District
  • Kelly Davila, Director of Regional Services/Economic Development, South Plains Association of Governments
  • Vicki Eggers, Economic Development Director, Northern Oklahoma Development Authority
  • Jamie Setze, Chair, SWREDA, and Executive Director, Capital Region Planning Commission
  • Roger Knak, Administrator, Fairview Hospital
  • Augusta Meyers, Communications Manager, Mid-Region Council of Governments
  • Moderator: Joe Willis, Executive Director, Northwest Arkansas Economic Development District

Friday, May 17

8:00 – 9:15 am
Plenary Breakfast: SWREDA Annual Business Meeting

  • Jamie Setze, Chair, SWREDA and Executive Director, Capital Region Planning Commission, Baton Rouge

9:30 – 10:15 am
Federal Legislative Update

10:30 – 11:30 am
Plenary: State of the Region

  • Jorge Ayala, Regional Director, US Department of Commerce, Economic Development Administration, Austin Region
The Southwest Region Economic Development Association (SWREDA) welcomes you to this year’s Annual Conference in Oklahoma City, OK May 15-17, 2024. The reference guide below contains general event information to help participants prepare to attend the conference.  
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General Hotel Information
Sheraton Oklahoma City Downtown 1 N Broadway Ave. | Oklahoma City, OK 73102 Check-in: 3:00 pm | Check-out: 12:00 pm Hotel reservation questions? Email NADO’s Meetings and Membership Manager, Brittany Salazar at [email protected]. Wi-Fi: You will have complimentary high speed wireless internet access in the meeting space. Network: MarriottBonvoy_Conference  Password: okcsi2024 Parking: Valet: $32 | Onsite Hourly ($2) or Daily ($10) Hotel Cancellation Policy: An individual may cancel their reservation 72 hours prior to check-in without penalty. Hotel Dining:
  • Block 23 – open for breakfast and lunch daily (room service available)
  • Aria Lounge Bar – open daily from 4pm-11pm
  • Library Coffee & Co – open daily from 6:30am-11:00am
  • Grab & Go Cooler – open 24 hours daily
  • Patio Vibes – open Tuesday-Thursday 5:00 pm-11:00pm
Getting There
Airport: When flying to Will Rogers World Airport, the conference hotel is 10 miles away. Airport Transportation: Airport Express (Fee: $28 – one way). Reservation required. Other Transportation: Bus Station: Greyhound | Train Station: Amtrak
About Oklahoma City
Time Zone: Oklahoma City, OK is in the Central Time Zone (CDT). Attire: Attire is business casual for the conference. Weather
During the Meeting
Registration: Upon arrival, pick up your name badge and meeting materials at the registration desk located in the Century Foyer on the 2nd floor.  Conference registration hours of operation will be:
  • Tuesday, May 14 | 12:00 – 5:00 pm
  • Wednesday, May 15 | 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Thursday, May 16 | 8:00 am – 5:00 pm
  • Friday, May 17 | 8:00 am – 11:30 am
Conference Registration Questions? Email NADO’s Operations Specialist, Karron Grant, at [email protected]. Social Media: Please use the hashtag #SWREDA24 when posting about the conference.    
See you soon!

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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

Contact Lara Gale

Contact Katie Allison

Contact Jack Morgan

Content Questions Form

Registration Questions Form

Hotel Questions Form

New Speaker Inquiry

Job Listing Inquiry

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

Contact Dion Thompson-Davoli

Contact Ciara Ristig

Contact Bret Allphin

Contact Brett Schwartz

Contact Carrie Kissel

Contact Scott Brown

Contact Jamie McCormick

Contact Joe McKinney

Contact Krystal De Leon

Contact Brittany Salazar

Contact Laurie Thompson

Contact Mirielle Burgoyne