Congratulations to the 2017 NADO Photo Contest Winners!

Congratulations to the 2017 NADO Photo Contest winners and runners-up!  This year, over 150 images were submitted from members across the country that demonstrated what makes their regions great places to live, work, and play.  Images were judged in five categories:  “Strengthening the Built and Natural Environments,” “Building Vibrant Places,” “Investing in Our Communities,” “Sustaining Our Communities,” and a special “50 Year Retrospective” category to mark NADO’s Golden Anniversary.  A “People’s Choice” winner was also chosen online by the public via our Facebook page where over 2,300 votes were cast.

Thanks to all of our members who participated this year and congratulations again to our winners!  Remember, it’s never too early to start snapping creative photos for next year’s contest.   

To view all of the photos that were submitted in this year’s contest, click here.


Strengthening the Built and Natural Environments

Organization:  Upper Cumberland Development District (TN)   

The Story:  This photo was taken from Welch Point, in the Bridgestone Firestone Centennial Wilderness Wildlife Management Area (WMA) in White County. Welch Point is an overlook which views the gorge created where the Caney Fork River cut into the Cumberland Plateau. From Welch Point one can see unbroken wilderness for miles which is part of a long greenway of public lands including Fall Creek Falls State Park, Bridgestone Firestone WMA, Bledsoe State Forest, Lost Creek State Natural Area (SNA), Dog Cove SNA, and Virgin Falls SNA. Hidden below the canopy are some of the most spectacular waterfalls in the world. Like a window into the underworld, the waterfalls emerge from caves and return to them. People of all skill levels can enjoy this place on its many trails or blueways. Through photography, videography and GIS, the Upper Cumberland Development District helps support the marketing efforts of region including representing the 14-county area in FDI markets.

Building Vibrant Places

Organization:  Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission (VA)

The Story:  Since 2012, the Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission’s RIDE Solutions program has organized a series of events called Art by Bus, bringing together the visual, performing, and written arts and putting them on the Roanoke Valley’s public transportation system.  A feature of Art by Bus is the Star Line Series, which places local musicians on the Star Line Trolley, the free downtown circulator that serves an important corridor between Roanoke’s central business district, Roanoke Memorial Hospital, and the Virginia-Tech Carilion School of Medicine and Research Institute.  Musicians performing in a range of styles from American to horn quartets to country guitar play in short, round-trip busking sessions that more often than not surprise riders who weren’t expecting a live show.  By connecting arts and transit, RIDE Solutions hopes to make riding the bus more attractive, and shows the important connections that public transportation form in our community.  In this photo, Lucy de los Rios (left) and Jordan Peery (right) of the local band Another RoadSide Attraction perform during an afternoon Star Line Series show.

Investing in Our Regional Economy

Organization:  Imperial Calcasieu Regional Planning and Development Commission (LA)

The Story:  Southwest Louisiana is experiencing unprecedented growth with a large number of LNG (Liquified Natural Gas) plant constructions and expansions. There is, however, a rich diversity to the economy and culture of Southwest Louisiana not related to this industrial growth that includes coastal seafood.  Our coastal waters are home to seafood products that are sent throughout the US.  Many of these shrimp boats are family owned and operated and some have been in families for generations. This industry exemplifies the Louisiana way of life:  resilient, independent, and utilizing the resources of the land.

The Louisiana seafood industry generates about $2.4 billion for the state and is a significant economic generator for Southwest Louisiana. IMCAL, the regional planning commission for the five parishes in the area, assists with helping to identify and secure public infrastructure for the variety of businesses that either sell, buy, or prepare seafood. Helping our public partners such as ports and municipalities plan for expansion help these businesses continue.

Sustaining Our Communities

Organization:  Region Nine Development Commission (MN)   

The Story:  Region Nine Development Commission understands the region is currently in the midst of changing demographics that are uniquely impacting rural communities and recognizes the lack of equity within these changing demographics. The commission sees the importance of building connections among neighbors as a component of community development. Region Nine brought the It’s Time to Talk: Forums on Race, a program of the YWCA Mankato, to rural communities in Region Nine to provide a platform to build awareness and have meaningful dialogues about race. The goal was to weave threads of understanding among neighbors to strengthen the fabric of the community.

 50 Years Retrospective

Organization:  Alamo Area Council of Governments (TX)   

The Story:  This photo was taken at an AACOG Executive Committee Meeting in late 1968.  AACOG’s first Executive Director, Al J. Notzon III, was recognizing AACOG’s first Board Chairman, Blair Reeves, with a plaque. Judge Reeves subsequently served as Bexar County Judge and Presiding Judge of the Texas Fourth Court of Appeals. Pictured in the background are former San Antonio Councilman Glen Hartman, Mr. Notzon’s wife, Angela Notzon, former Kerr County Judge Julius Neunhoffer, former Bexar County Judge and Congressman Albert Bustamante, former San Antonio Mayor Lila Cockrill, and former Boerne Mayor Art Howell.  The photo was taken by Gloria C. Arriaga, AACOG’s second Executive Director.

People’s Choice 

Organization:  Region XII Council of Governments (IA)   

The Story:  Shelly Codner works for Region XII COG as a representative for the Iowa Waste Exchange (IWE).  IWE is a free, confidential, non-regulatory program of the Iowa Department of Natural Resources and administered by the COG and three partners, including two other NADO members. Since 1990, the program has diverted nearly 3.5 million tons of waste and saved nearly $86 million by keeping this waste out of landfills and diverting it to value added uses. Among the services performed by IWE are waste audits/sorts. A waste audit is a process of separating onsite waste in order to quantify the amount and type of waste being generated. This data is vital in identifying the need for and feasibility of potential waste reduction initiatives.

In response to a nationwide waste reduction initiative, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Des Moines contacted Shelly, their IWE Resource Specialist, who working beside Habitat staff and community volunteers, assisted in performing a waste sort for their Des Moines ReStore (pictured here).  Data from this waste sort was compiled and has been and will continue to be used to facilitate waste reduction and recycling activities as part of Habitat’s sustainability mission. During this particular waste sort, just over 3 tons of waste material was sorted with 63% of the waste stream consisting of wood. IWE and Habitat continue to seek alternative options for wood and all potentially reusable/recyclable materials.


Strengthening the Built and Natural Environments

Organization:  Sweetgrass Development (MT)    

The Story:  This photo, taken in early June 2017, shows the scenic Black Eagle Falls located in Great Falls, Montana. The falls are the first in a series of five waterfalls that make up the Great Falls of the Missouri River. The iconic falls were significant in the writings by Meriwether Lewis in 1805. In 1890, a timber and rock dam was built at the falls to supply electricity for a copper smelter. It was the first hydroelectric dam built in Montana.  In 1926, a second concrete dam was built to replace the original dam that still lies submerged in the reservoir behind the dam. This photo depicts the incredible history of the region, energy sustainability, and the promise of future development.  Sweetgrass Development is an Economic Development District comprised of a five county region in North Central Montana including Glacier, Cascade, Pondera, Teton, and Toole Counties. The mission and objectives of the organization are to assist the governments and citizens in each county and the Blackfeet Nation achieve their economic goals, while preserving their distinct cultures and way of life.

 Building Vibrant Places

Organization:  Tri-County Council for Western Maryland  

The Story:  The Autumn Glory Parade is part of the annual celebration of fall in Oakland, a historic western Maryland county seat. Maryland State Police estimate that over 50,000 people attend the 4-day celebration. Oakland has a population of nearly 2,000, and historically, presidents and other prominent figures have made this area their vacation destination since the 1800s, including Ulysses S. Grant, James Garfield, Grover Cleveland, and Benjamin Harrison. Oakland was included in Smithsonian Magazine’s “20 Best Small Towns to Visit in 2017” and is a state and nationally recognized Main Street Community. Tri-County Council for Western Maryland continues to be an integral force for economic development, advancing infrastructure, supporting tourism, and providing small business loans in this area since 1971.

Investing in Our Regional Economy 

Organization:  Lamoille County Planning Commission (VT)  

The Story:  Today, while only 17% of land in Lamoille County is actively used for agriculture, farming continues to play an important role in shaping the economy and character of the county. Agriculture is a critical part of the Vermont way of life and contributes to the county’s traditional settlement pattern by providing a diversity of land uses and open space that is characteristic of northern Vermont.  Traditionally, dairy farming was the predominant type of agriculture within the county. While dairy still remains an important component of the county’s agricultural industry, it is not as dominant as it once was.

While the number of dairy farms has declined, the emergence of new agricultural products has led some to say that Vermont is experiencing an “Agricultural Renaissance.” New agricultural products being produced in Lamoille County include organic farming, wine making, organic beef, seed and nursery production, and specialty products such as cheese and bread. Visiting an agricultural enterprise to enjoy, be educated, or participate in an activity has taken on a life of its own. Agricultural operations in Lamoille County have diversified their offerings, hosting farm‐to‐table dinners and events, adding special events barns, hosting corn mazes, and providing opportunities to enjoy the scenery and inner workings of an active farm. These activities allow agricultural operations to earn new income and cater to larger audiences of visitors to the region.

Sustaining Our Communities

Organization:  Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission (OH)  

The Story:  Pictured is Luna Keeton, daughter of OVRDC staff person Jessica Keeton and her husband, Randall. Luna, shown here investigating some flowers on her family’s farm, is the beginning of the fifth generation of her family to reside on the farm. The Ohio Valley Regional Development Commission works with federal and state partners like the Appalachian Regional Commission and the Ohio Department of Transportation to give Appalachian Ohioans in the region greater opportunity to thrive in their communities and prevent outmigration by fostering economic and community development. OVRDC assists with the development of critical infrastructure, education, healthcare, and workforce projects that will help Luna’s generation thrive too, without leaving home.

 50 Years Retrospective

Organization:  Upper Savannah Council of Governments (SC) 

The Story:  Greenwood, SC is shown as it looked in 1967 when Upper Savannah Council of Governments was first organized.  The “World’s Broadest Main Street” was divided by a railroad track at the time guarded by a few solitary trees.  With assistance from federal programs such as Community Development Block Grants and the Economic Development Administration, Uptown Greenwood has become a more pedestrian-friendly destination with thriving specialty shops and restaurants. At the same time, Upper Savannah COG has grown as a forum for bringing together regional leaders and as a resource for much-needed technical assistance and planning.  Greenwood and the rest of the Upper Savannah COG region look forward to working together for the next fifty years of prosperity and progress.


We hope you can participate in next year’s photo contest.  Start taking pictures now and show off the great things happening in your region!  Please direct any questions to Brett Schwartz at [email protected].


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 and will receive the printed award certificates and other hardcopy materials should the project win an award.

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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