NADO Recognizes 2013 Innovation Award Winners

For 27 years, NADO’s Annual Innovation Award program has honored members who have had significant and positive impacts on their regions through innovative approaches to problem solving and program delivery.  We are pleased to announce that the 2013 slate of awardees includes 93 impressive projects from 25 states!

NADO congratulates the 2013 Innovation Award-winning projects.  This annual awards program acknowledges creative approaches to regional community and economic development throughout the nation.  The winning projects represent the innovative and strategic approaches that regional councils are employing to strengthen and enhance their regions.  We applaud their efforts and impact!


  • South Alabama Regional Planning Commission, South Alabama Regional Planning Commission Annual Jobs Fair and Business Expo


  • Southeastern Arizona Governments Organization, International Trade: at the Border – about the Border
  • Southeastern Arizona Governments Organization, Growing Greenlee: The Opportunity Forum


  • Sonoma County Economic Development Board, Sonoma County Business Retention and Expansion Program


  • Apalachee Regional Planning Council, Florida ExpertNet
  • Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Florida Heartland Energy Baseline and Greenhouse Gas Inventory
  • Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Heartland Brownfields Revitalization Partnership – Mulberry Health Clinic
  • Florida Regional Councils Association, Energy Resiliency Strategy
  • North Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Operation TRUCKs (Transportation Response Untangling Chemical Kaos) Full Scale Hazardous Materials Exercise
  • North Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Fish Natural North Florida Tourism Promotion Program


  • Central Savannah River Area Regional Commission, Aycock Corner (Formerly Old SOC Station) Redevelopment
  • Central Savannah River Area Regional Commission, Kettle Creek Battlefield Park Master Plan
  • Coastal Regional Commission, Adaptive Reuse of State Surplus Property
  • Coastal Regional Commission, CRC Practicum Series
  • Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, Renovation of Historic Southern Railway Depot
  • Middle Georgia Regional Commission, Reverse Mortgage Counseling for Adults 62+
  • Middle Georgia Regional Commission, Hospital On-Site Options Counseling
  • Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, Northeast Georgia CEDS Update Development
  • River Valley Regional Commission, Vienna Redevelopment Plan
  • Southern Georgia Regional Commission, Building Partnerships and GIS from the Ground Up!


  • Clearwater Economic Development Association, The American Manufacturer Network


  • East Central Iowa Council of Governments, Indian Creek Watershed Management Authority
  • Southeast Iowa Regional Planning Commission, Southeast Iowa Regional Speed Indicator Sharing Program


  • Barren River Area Development District, Industry Career Pathways Initiative
  • Big Sandy Area Development District, Eastern Kentucky Disaster Case Management Program
  • Bluegrass Area Development District, Data Distribution and Sharing using Cloud Technology
  • Buffalo Trace Area Development District, Maysville Cox Building Renovation
  • Buffalo Trace Area Development District, Kenton Pointe Assisted Living Facility
  • Green River Area Development District, GRADD GIS Infrastructure Map Books
  • Lincoln Trail Area Development District, Lincoln Trail Short Term Home Delivered Meals
  • Pennyrile Area Development District, Operation Military Support
  • Pennyrile Area Development District, Go Madisonville
  • Pennyrile Area Development District’s Pennyrile Area Agency on Aging, Caregiver Education and Empowerment Project (CEE Project)
  • Purchase Area Development District, Kentucky Care Health Clinic in Carlisle County


  • Greater New Orleans, Inc., Greater New Orleans Comprehensive, Integrated and Sustainable Water Management Strategy


  • Merrimack Valley Planning Commission, Merrimack Valley Regional Clean Energy Program
  • Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, The Pioneer Valley Brownfield Plan


  • Northwest Michigan Council of Governments, Food Innovation Districts: an Economic Gardening Tool Guidebook


  • Region Five Development Commission, Resilient Region Plan


  • Central Mississippi Planning and Development District, University of Mississippi Medical Center East University Drive
  • Central Mississippi Planning and Development District, Ridgeland’s Creative Approach to Economic Development
  • Central Mississippi Planning and Development District, Madison County, Mississippi Interactive Web Map Application
  • East Central Planning and Development District, Reshoring of Jobs and the Impact on Rural Community
  • East Central Planning and Development District, Enterprise Park Project
  • North Delta Planning and Development District, Tunica County Schulz Xtruded Products (SXP)
  • Northeast Mississippi Planning and Development District, Factory Redevelopment
  • South Delta Planning and Development District Inc, SDPDD Innovation Project Funds
  • Three Rivers Planning and Development District, Inc., Regional Economic Developer Program


  • Mid-Missouri Regional Planning Commission, Continuity of Operations Planning Workshops
  • Mo-Kan Regional Council, Better Block St Joe


  • Metropolitan Area Planning Agency, Carter Lake Water Improvement Project
  • South Central Economic Development District, Inc., Community Needs Assessment Survey


  • North Central New Mexico Economic Development District, REDI Net Open Access Broadband Network-Northern New Mexico
  • Southeastern New Mexico Economic Development District/Council of Governments, Mayor’s Summits


  • Centralina Council of Governments, Prosperity for Greater Charlotte
  • Isothermal Planning and Development Commission, Reducing Barriers to Entry for Building Diagnostics for the Isothermal Region (STEM)
  • Land of Sky Regional Council, The Power of Partners
  • Mid-East Commission, Hurricane Irene Disaster Recovery Project
  • Mid-East Commission, 2013 North Carolina JobSeekers Survey
  • Piedmont Triad Regional Council, NW Piedmont Workforce Development Board/United Way of Forsyth County Financial Capability Initiative
  • Piedmont Triad Regional Council, Creating Successful Learners
  • Piedmont Triad Regional Council Area Agency on Aging, Extended Health Community Programs
  • Western Piedmont Council of Governments, Catawba County Early Head Start Community Assessment
  • Western Piedmont Council of Governments, Western Piedmont Industry Growth Analysis


  • South Western Oklahoma Development Authority, Housing Development and Community Improvement


  • Mid-Columbia Economic Development District, Klickitat-Skamania Local Technology Planning Team
  • Northeast Oregon Economic Development District, GrantReady Training
  • South Central Oregon EDD, Commercial Energy Efficiency Loan Fund
  • Southern Oregon Regional Economic Development Inc., Emerging Business Initiative/TAG Team/Jefferson Grapevine


  • Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments, OurRegion OurPlan
  • Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments, Charleston Regional Competitiveness Center
  • Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments, Alliance Reclaimed Water Storage and Supply Project
  • Catawba Regional Council of Governments, Lowcountry Council of Governments, Lower Savannah Council of Governments, and Santee-Lynches Council of Governments, Revolving Loan Fund Collaboration
  • Lower Savannah Council of Governments’ Workforce Investment Area, Youth Focus Forum – GPS Your Career Destination
  • SC Appalachian Council of Governments, InfoMentum Fact Finder – Quantifying Upstate SC
  • Upper Savannah Council of Governments, Laurens Community Safety Initiative


  • First Tennessee Development District, Washington County Disaster Recovery
  • First Tennessee Development District, FTDD Interactive Map of Historic Places
  • First Tennessee Development District, Production of Sinkhole Activity Maps via Imagery Overlays through time for an Informative Guide to assist with Economic Development Growth in the First Tennessee Development District
  • Memphis Area Association of Governments, West Tennessee Day Trippin’ Campaign video series
  • Southwest TN Development District, REDI College Summits


  • Ark-Tex Council of Governments, Sulphur Springs, Hopkins County TX – Downtown Reinvestment Project
  • Capital Area Council of Governments, Capital Area Geospatial Base Map (GeoMap)
  • South Plains Association of Governments, City of Ralls Small Town Environmental Project
  • South Plains Association of Governments Area Agency on Aging, “Heat the Town”
  • Texoma Council of Governments, Summertastic! Texoma Summer Youth Guide
  • Texoma Council of Governments, Social Entrepreneurship for Poverty Alleviation (SEPA)


  • Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission and Lenowisco Planning District Commission, Virginia Coalfields Wireless 4G Project – Phase 1
  • New River Valley Planning District Commission, NRV Tomorrow Interactive Survey
  • Northern Neck Planning District Commission, Northern Neck Planning District Commission: Regional Tourism Initiative
  • Roanoke Valley Alleghany Regional Commission, Regional Report Card: “The 2013 Compilation of Regional Cooperative Initiatives and Activities”


  • Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission, The ECOS Project


  • Region 1–Planning and Development Council , Region 2–Planning and Development Council , Region 3–Regional Intergovernmental Council, Region 4–Planning and Development Council, Region 5–Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council, Region 6–Planning and Development Council , Region 7–Planning and Development Council, Region 8–Planning and Development Council, Region 9–Eastern Panhandle Regional Planning and Development Council, Region 10–Bel-O-Mar Regional Council and Interstate Planning Commission, and Region 11–Brooke-Hancock Regional Planning and Development Council, West Virginia Energy Efficiency and Conservation Block Grant Program


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 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