NADO Announces 2015 Innovation Award Winners


NADO Announces 2015 Innovation Award Winners

For 29 years, NADO’s annual Innovation Award program has honored members who have made significant impacts on their regions through innovative approaches to problem solving and program delivery.  We are pleased to announce that the 2015 class of award recipients includes 115 impressive projects from 32 states!

NADO congratulates the 2015 Innovation Award-winning projects.  These projects showcase creative approaches to regional community and economic development that strengthen regions throughout the nation.  We applaud their efforts and impact!

This year, in partnership with Esri, NADO is pleased to present a virtual learning tool about the Innovation Award winners.  The 2015 Innovation Award Story Map allows users to see the geographic distribution of the award-winning projects, sort the projects by topic area, and click on individual pins on the Story Map to learn about each project.  We highly encourage you to check it out and share with project partners and other stakeholders throughout your region:



  • East Alabama Regional Planning & Development Commission, CLEAR Plan 2030
  • East Alabama Regional Planning & Development Commission, Tour East Alabama
  • Lee-Russell Council of Governments, CyberZone: A Gap Financing Success Story
  • Lee-Russell Council of Governments, Providing Reliable, Safe, and Affordable Transportation Options for At-Risk Families Through Mobility Management


  • Juneau Economic Development Council, JEDC Innovation Summit
  • University of Alaska Center for Economic Development, Alaska Business Retention and Expansion Initiative


  • Central Arkansas Planning & Development District, Faulkner County Disaster Recovery Project
  • Southeast Arkansas Economic Development District, Delta Bioenergy


  • Sonoma County Economic Development Board, Sonoma County Business Development Tools Program


  • Apalachee Regional Planning Council, North Florida Regional Domestic Security Task Force – Operation Deep Freeze
  • Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Central Florida Regional Planning Council Areawide Plan
  • North Central Florida Regional Planning Council, Bicycling Trails of Natural North Florida
  • North Central Florida Regional Planning Council on behalf of the Florida Regional Councils Association, Statewide Coordinated Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy


  • CSRA Regional Commission, CSRA Veterans’ Partnership
  • CSRA Regional Commission, Integrating Solar Land Uses: A Regulatory Template for CSRA Communities
  • Coastal Regional Commission, Public/Private Partnership for Transit Program Enhancement
  • Coastal Regional Commission, Regional Plan Digital Implementation Tool
  • Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, 2015 GMRC Aerial Photography/LiDAR Consortium Project
  • Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, King’s Hawaiian Expansion Project
  • Georgia Mountains Regional Commission, Training 2 Work Offender Job Training Program
  • Middle Georgia Regional Commission, Historic Dannenberg Building Revitalization
  • Middle Georgia Regional Commission, Middle Georgia Digital Economy Project
  • Middle Georgia Regional Commission, Regional Website Service Program
  • Northeast Georgia Regional Commission, Braselton Bros. Store Rehabilitation
  • Northwest Georgia Regional Commission, Northwest Georgia IMCP Floor 360 Consortium
  • River Valley Regional Commission, Show Your Love of the River Valley Photo Contest
  • Southern Georgia Regional Commission, Building a Tradition
  • Southern Georgia Regional Commission, Local Government Finance Software
  • Southern Georgia Regional Commission, Utility Management Made Easier Using GIS!
  • Three Rivers Regional Commission, Three Rivers Regional Commission Updated Website


  • Clearwater Economic Development Association, Addressing the Skill Needs of the Metal Manufacturer Supercluster


  • City of Norwalk, Produce Innovations
  • East Central Iowa Council of Governments, Region 10 Multi-Disciplinary Safety Team
  • MIDAS Council of Governments, Emerald Ash Borer – Community Tree Management Plans
  • Region XII Council of Governments, Western Iowa Advantage Employer-Educator Summit


  • Barren River Area Development District, “Be the Change”
  • Bluegrass Area Development District, Bluegrass Medication Management Program
  • Bluegrass Area Development District, Cross Kentucky Trail Master Plan
  • Bluegrass Area Development District, Medical Career & Science Institute (MCSI) Youth Career Camps
  • Big Sandy Area Development District, Shaping Our Appalachian Region (SOAR)
  • Green River Area Development District, Senior Nutrition Initiatives
  • Northern Kentucky Area Development District, Northern Kentucky Heroin Impact Response
  • Pennyrile Area Development District, Guthrie Transportation Museum and Welcome Center
  • Pennyrile Area Development District, Pennyrile Entrepreneur Network
  • Purchase Area Development District, Career Discovery Center


  • Greater New Orleans, Inc., Coastal Engineering and Sciences Program at the University of New Orleans


  • Northern Maine Development Commission, Northern Maine Forest Products Industry Cluster
  • Northern Maine Development Commission, Workforce Center of Excellence


  • Pioneer Valley Planning Commission, The Pioneer Valley Plan for Progress 2015-2025


  • Networks Northwest, Framework for Our Future: A Regional Prosperity Plan for Northwest Michigan
  • Western U.P. Planning & Development Region, Economic Development Service Delivery


  • Region Nine Development Commission, Telling the Regional Government Story Differently
  • Southwest Regional Development Commission, Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program


  • Central Mississippi Planning & Development District, Simpson County Health Care Zone Master Plan
  • Central Mississippi Planning & Development District, Town of Pelahatchie – Multicraft International Expansion
  • East Central Planning & Development District, Philadelphia Log Cabin Restoration
  • Northeast Mississippi Planning & Development District, Marshall County MS-Roxul, Inc. / Public Infrastructure Improvements
  • South Delta Planning & Development District, Inc., Harrah’s Tunica National Emergency Grant – Partnerships
  • Three Rivers Planning & Development District, Disaster Recovery / “High Availability”
  • Three Rivers Planning & Development District, Three Rivers #NMTC Allocation


  • Boonslick Regional Planning Commission, Meramec Regional Planning Commission, and Mid-Missouri Regional Planning Commission, Missouri Mobility Management Planning
  • Kaysinger Basin Regional Planning Commission, Regional Economic Development Program
  • Kaysinger Basin Regional Planning Commission, Truman Regional Education Center
  • Mo-Kan Regional Council, Mo-Kan My Map
  • Southeast Missouri State University – Institute for Regional Innovation & Entrepreneurship, Regional Entrepreneurship Assessment & Strategy Reports


  • Omaha-Council Bluffs Metropolitan Area Planning Agency, CITIES Program

New Hampshire

  • Nashua Regional Planning Commission, Granite State Future
  • North Country Council, Business Disaster Planning

New Mexico

  • New Mexico Association of Regional Councils (NewMARC), The Ristra Project

North Carolina

  • Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments, Building Economic Resilience in the Kerr-Tar Region
  • Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments, Kerr-Tar Regional STEM Education Summit
  • Kerr-Tar Regional Council of Governments Area Agency on Aging, Surfing the Silver Tsunami: A Boomer, Senior, and Caregiver Expo
  • Land of Sky Regional Council, Transportation Resource Center – Expanding Local Services
  • Piedmont Triad Regional Council (Northwest Piedmont Service Corps), HOPE Crew Project – Raleigh National Cemetery
  • Piedmont Triad Regional Council, CDBG Handbook
  • Piedmont Triad Regional Council, GIS as a Tool for Targeting Efforts in Housing Rehabilitation Programs
  • Piedmont Triad Regional Council, Survive, Thrive, Grow: Winston-Salem Small Business Development Pilot
  • Upper Coastal Plain Council of Governments, Turning Point Workforce Development Board Simulation Lab Project
  • Western Piedmont Council of Governments, Newton-Conover City Schools Elementary Redistricting and Student Growth Estimation Model
  • Western Piedmont Council of Governments, Web-Map Application for Public Fixed-Route Bus Service
  • Western Piedmont Council of Governments, Workforce Anytime, Anywhere, for Anyone


  • Buckeye Hills-Hocking Valley Regional Development District, Utica Shale Real Estate Marketing Initiative


  • South Western Oklahoma Development Authority on behalf of the Southwest Region Executive Directors Association, Southwest Region Peer Exchange


  • Greater Eastern Oregon Development Corporation, 2014-2019 Comprehensive Economic Development Strategy – Greater Eastern Oregon District


  • SEDA-Council of Governments, Core PA Global
  • SEDA-Council of Governments, Mann Edge Terrace Elderly Housing Facility
  • SEDA-Council of Governments, Regional Gas Utilization Initiative (RGUI)

South Carolina

  • BCD Council of Governments, Project STAND
  • BCD Council of Governments, Study to Assess and Mitigate Maritime Traffic and Military Activities along the Cooper River and Charleston Harbor
  • Catawba Regional Council of Governments, Catawba Regional Elected Officials Forum
  • Central Midlands Council of Governments, Walk Bike Columbia
  • Lowcountry Council of Governments, Lowcountry Regional Water System
  • Lower Savannah Council of Governments, LSCOG ADTRC and Savannah River Site Retirees Association Partnership
  • SC Appalachian Council of Governments, The Entrepreneur Friendly Toolkit
  • Santee-Lynches Regional Council of Governments, Adapting in the Face of Crisis: Santee-Lynches RCOG Fire and Recovery
  • Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments, Grand Strand Routing and Wayfinding Plan
  • Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments, Murrells Inlet, SC Watershed Plan

South Dakota

  • South Eastern Council of Governments (South Eastern Development Foundation), SEDF’s Governor’s House Development


  • First Tennessee Development District, Alan Street Veteran Apartments
  • South Central Tennessee Development District, SCTDD Regional Disaster Preparedness & Business Resiliency Planning Program
  • Southwest Tennessee Development District, SOAR (Strategic Opportunities to Advance our Region)


  • Ark-Tex Council of Governments, Ark-Tex Transit Scheduling Software (CaBAW)
  • Capital Area Council of Governments, Regional Disaster Debris Management Plan Development
  • Heart of Texas Council of Governments, Heart of Texas Efficient Towns and Counties Co-Op
  • Houston-Galveston Area Council, Bringing Back Main Street
  • South Plains Association of Governments, South Plains Rural Planning Organization
  • Texoma Council of Governments, Helping Our People Excel (HOPE) GED Program
  • Texoma Council of Governments, Texoma Craft Beverage Strategic Plan


  • Two Rivers-Ottauquechee Regional Commission, East Central Vermont: What We Want


  • Cumberland Plateau Planning District Commission, Appalachian Spring: Southwest Virginia’s Outdoor Recreation Initiative
  • George Washington Regional Commission, The Nomination of “The Meadow,” Birthplace of Secretariat, to the Virginia Landmarks Register and the National Register of Historic Places
  • New River Valley Regional Commission, Renaming and Branding of the New River Valley Regional Commission
  • Roanoke Valley-Alleghany Regional Commission (RIDE Solutions), Art by Bus

West Virginia

  • Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council, Workforce and Economic Development Integration


  • Northwest Regional Planning Commission, Hazardous Waste Collection, Education, and Mapping Project


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

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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.

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