NADO Announces the 2021 Impact Awards

Congratulations to the 2021 Aliceann Wohlbruck NADO Impact Awards recipients!  The Impact Awards program honors NADO members for their creative approaches to advancing regional 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 2021 class of awardees consists of 102 projects from 70 organizations spanning 24 states.  Click here to view a StoryMap that highlights the stories behind each of these projects.

For more information, contact NADO Research Foundation Associate Director Brett Schwartz at [email protected] or Senior Program Manager Ciara Ristig at [email protected]

2021 NADO Impact Awards Recipient


  • Southeast Conference, Southeast Alaska 2025 Economic Plan: Southeast Conference CEDS


  • Western Arizona Economic Development District, The University of Arizona APCV-498 Senior Capstone CEDS Project


  • Region 9 Economic Development District of SW Colorado, Southwest Colorado Business Disaster Assistance Funding


  • Apalachee Regional Planning Council, US 90/Washington Street Streetscape Improvement Concept Plan (City of Chattahoochee, Florida)
  • Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Heartland 2060: Building a Resilient Region – Revisited
  • Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Central Florida Migrant and Farmworker Housing Study and Model Ordinance
  • East Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Sanford Resilience Element
  • Northeast Florida Regional Council, Northeast Florida COVID-19 Support, Recovery & Economic Resilience Planning
  • North Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Visit Natural North Florida Website
  • South Florida Regional Planning Council, CARES Act Revolving Loan Fund (RLF) Program
  • Tampa Bay Regional Planning Council, Project Phoenix 2.0: The Recovery


  • Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, Towns County 2021 Economic Development Strategy
  • Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, Fox Factory Holding Corp.
  • Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, Electro-Mechanical Academy
  • Middle Georgia Regional Commission, Encroachment Elimination and Redevelopment
  • River Valley Regional Commission, Using Broadband Mapping to Site Wireless Routers for Rural Students During the COVID-19 School Shutdown
  • River Valley Regional Commission, Columbus Lift Project
  • Southern Georgia Regional Commission, City of Valdosta, Public Works Findings Solution
  • Southern Georgia Regional Commission, Certified AARP Age-Friendly States and Communities Enrollment for SGRC Region
  • Southwest Georgia Regional Commission, Age-Friendly Region and a Member of the AARP Network of Age-Friendly States and Communities
  • Three Rivers Regional Commission, Three Rivers Regional Commission Disaster and Emergency Supportive Services
  • Three Rivers Regional Commission, Three Rivers Regional Commission Broadband Taskforce
  • Three Rivers Regional Commission, The Three Rivers Senior Hunger Coalition


  • Economic Development Districts of Idaho (EDDI), EDDI Disaster Recovery Initiative


  • Greater Peoria Economic Development Council, Downstate Business Stabilization


  • East Central Iowa Council of Governments, Providing Assistance to Community Homeowners (PATCH)
  • East Central Intergovernmental Association, Bear River Cottages – Pocket Neighborhood


  • Bluegrass Area Development District, EVV Assist – Bridging the Gap
  • Green River Area Development District, West Kentucky Regional Training Center
  • Kentuckiana Regional Planning and Development Agency, Resilient Kentuckiana
  • Pennyrile Area Development District, Pennyrile ADD Home Delivered/Curbside COVID Meals
  • Purchase Area Development District, Rethinking Food Distribution During a Pandemic


  • Eastern Maine Development Corporation, 2021-2025 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy
  • Northern Maine Development Commission, Small Business Pandemic Assistance
  • Northern Maine Development Commission, Ignite PI


  • Region Five Development Commission, Rural Energy and Environment Planning
  • Region Nine Development Commission, Minnesota State Polytechnic Institute


  • Central Mississippi Planning & Development District, Madison County Megasite
  • Central Mississippi Planning & Development District, Natchez Housing Assessment
  • Central Mississippi Planning & Development District, Jackson Medical Mall Master Plan
  • East Central Planning and Development District, Reinvesting in Properties Utilizing Brownfield Grant Funds
  • Northeast Mississippi Planning and Development District, Economic Development/Infrastructure Improvements
  • Northeast Mississippi Planning and Development District, Economic Development-Building Acquisition
  • Three Rivers Planning & Development District, Industry Recognized Apprenticeship Program
  • Three Rivers Planning & Development District, Overcoming Isolation:  Virtual LTC Visitation During a Pandemic
  • Three Rivers Planning & Development District, Senior Farmers’ Market Voucher Program


  • Mark Twain Regional Council of Governments, Moberly’s Demolition of 65 Residential Properties
  • Meramec Regional Planning Commission, Meramec Region’s Rural Opioid Initiative
  • Missouri Association of Councils of Government, Organizing Your Community for Disaster Recovery Tool-Kit


  • Great Falls Development Authority, West Bank Landing Riverfront Brownfield Redevelopment
  • Great Falls Development Authority, Economic Development Response to COVID Pandemic
  • Sweetgrass Development, Blackfeet Community College Health & Science Education Building
  • Sweetgrass Development, Suta South Petroleum Cleanup


  • Nebraska Regional Officials Council (NROC), Nebraska Statewide Broadband Mapping Initiative

New Mexico

  • Northwest New Mexico Council of Governments, Trail of the Ancients Byway – New Mexico

New York

  • Southern Tier 8 Regional Board, The Better Connection Program

North Carolina

  • Centralina Regional Council, CONNECT Beyond: A Regional Mobility Initiative
  • Centralina Regional Council, Pride in Care North Carolina
  • Land of Sky Regional Council, Racial Disparity in the Land of Sky Region
  • Land of Sky Regional Council, $17 per Hour And Beyond Job Fair
  • Land of Sky Regional Council, Caregivers Harnessing Technology to Connect
  • Lumber River Council of Governments, COVID Care Package Distribution for Seniors
  • Lumber River Council of Governments, Teaching Tuesdays
  • Lumber River Council of Governments, Finish Line Grant
  • Mid-East Commission, Martin County Economic Recovery Forum
  • Mid-East Commission, Assessment and Evaluation of Key Components of the Martin County Emergency Operations Plan (EOP)
  • Piedmont Triad Regional Council, Triad Career Connect (TCC)
  • Piedmont Triad Regional Council, Elder Abuse in the Time of COVID-19: Where Are We Now?
  • Piedmont Triad Regional Council, Learn-Build-Eat: A Virtual Food Assessment Launch Event
  • Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments, Aging CARES
  • Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments, Upper Coastal Plain Digital Inclusion Planning Process
  • Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments, Healthy Food Access Mapping (Healthy FAM)
  • Western Piedmont Council of Governments, COVID Relief – Assistance to Seniors, Caregivers, and Aging Service Providers
  • Western Piedmont Council of Governments, Unifour HOME Consortium – 25th Anniversary
  • Western Piedmont Council of Governments, A Study of Equity, Economic, and Demographic Data for the City of Hickory


  • Buckeye Hills Regional Council,
  • Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission, A Regional Housing Strategy for Central Ohio


  • CCD Business Development Corporation, Economic Recovery Initiative (ERI)
  • Greater Eastern Oregon Development Corporation, Economic Resiliency Newsletters
  • Mid-Columbia Economic Development District, Oregon Investment Board Videography Project
  • Mid-Columbia Economic Development District, GOrge Pass Project

South Carolina

  • Appalachian Council of Governments, Appalachian Regional Freight Mobility Plan
  • Berkeley-Charleston-Dorchester Council of Governments, Beach Reach Shuttle
  • Catawba Regional Council of Governments, City of York 2021 Strategic Plan
  • Lowcountry Council of Governments, 2020 Lowcountry Natural Hazard Mitigation Plan
  • Lower Savannah Council of Governments, Drive-Thru Job Fairs
  • Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments, Masks for Class
  • Upper Savannah Council of Governments, Abbeville County Federal Lands Access Improvements
  • Upper Savannah Council of Governments, Your Next Step After Graduation Employer Directory


  • Alamo Area Council of Governments, COVID-19 Broadcast Public Service Announcement Spots
  • Alamo Area Council of Governments, IDD Health & Wellness Program
  • Coastal Bend Council of Governments, Regional Resilience Partnership (RRP)
  • Heart of Texas Council of Governments, Digital Resiliency
  • Panhandle Regional Planning Commission, Downtown Revitalization in the Texas Panhandle
  • South Plains Association of Governments, COVID-19 Small Business Relief: The Support Lubbock Fund


  • Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, The Pipelines and Pathways Program (P3)
  • Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, Restart Vermont Technical Assistance Program (ReVTA)
  • Brattleboro Development Credit Corporation, Southern Vermont Economy Project
  • Windham Regional Commission, Windham Region Broadband Project


  • Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission, Broadband Expansion in Virginia’s Coalfields
  • New River Valley Regional Commission, Economic Resilience and Recovery: Business Continuity Team
  • Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission, Roanoke Valley Transportation Needs Assessment

For more information about the NADO Impact Awards, click here.
To learn more about  previous award-winning projects, click here.


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

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