The Aliceann Wohlbruck NADO Impact Award (formerly the Innovation Award) honors significant advances in community and economic development, including but not limited to small business finance, energy and infrastructure projects, housing and human services, sustainable development, workforce development, and more.

The Impact Awards are named after Aliceann Wohlbruck, NADO’s first executive director. For 24 years, she was a tireless champion for regional approaches to economic development in rural communities.

Awards winners leverage their awards to provide regions with additional resources and to help explain the important work they do. NADO staff uses the award-winning projects to share these collective works on Capitol Hill and with federal agencies. They’re also used in peer-to-peer training and information sharing among membership.

The 2023 application window is now closed. Award recipients will be announced soon.

Benefits for Impact Award Winners

Positive local and national attention
  • Award-winning projects gain national recognition via, NADO News, and are often featured in NADO Research Foundation reports and case studies.
  • NADO’s legislative and research teams tap into the great resource of Impact Awards for testimony to Congress and as examples to share with federal agencies.
  • Awardees receive an Impact Award certificate and a press release to announce the award to regional partners, stakeholders, and media outlets.
Showcase Your Success and Network with Peers
  • A special roundtable reception showcases award-winning projects during NADO’s Annual Training Conference. Winners are often included in best practice sessions. 
  • In addition to the roundtable reception, awardees have ample opportunities to talk with peers about their award-winning projects and share best practices.
Community and Organization Recognition
  • Winning an Impact Award gives awardees numerous opportunities to build their organization’s reputation within their communities, and among, regional stakeholders, funders, and potential clients. It also recognizes staff for dedication and hard work.


  • Only NADO members can apply for the award.
  • If multiple regional development organizations, such as members of a state association, wish to apply for an Impact Award for a collaborative project, the current NADO member submits one application on behalf of all. 
  • Only three applications per organization may be submitted. Projects must show substantial quantitative or qualitative results in the region. For a competitive application, address one or more of the following:
    • uniqueness and level of impact; 
    • ability to be replicated;
    • long-term viability and significance;
    •  inventive partnerships and collaborations; 
    • and/or creative funding mechanisms.


The 2023 application will be open from June 15 to July 21

We look forward to hearing about the impactful work in your region. Follow NADO News and our Facebook and LinkedIn pages for updates.


Email Brett Schwartz or Ciara Ristig.

2022 Award Recipients

Congratulations to the 2022 Aliceann Wohlbruck NADO Impact Awards recipients!  The 2022 class of awardees consists of 107 projects from 71 organizations spanning 28 states. These projects were recognized at NADO’s Annual Training Conference in Pittsburgh, PA  last year. Click here to see the full list of awardees and click here to explore a StoryMap to learn more information about each of these projects. 


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]

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

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

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

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