Congratulations to the Winners of the 2014 NADO Photo Contest!

NADOPhotoContestEmailHeaderIn this year’s inaugural NADO Photo Contest, 31 of our member organizations submitted over 140 images that showcased what makes their regions great places to live, work, and play.  Images were judged in four categories:  Strengthening the Built and Natural Environments, Building Vibrant Places, Investing in Our Regional Economy, and Sustaining Our Communities.  The People’s Choice winner was chosen by votes from the public on NADO’s Facebook page.

Thanks again to all of our members who participated and congratulations to our winners and runners-up!

To view all of the photos that were submitted, click here.


Strengthening the Built and Natural Environments


Organization:  Chittenden County Regional Planning Commission (VT)
Photographer:  Lee Krohn
The Story:  The much-loved Richmond Monitor Barn is a remarkable example of historic preservation, spearheaded by the Richmond, VT Land Trust, and done in a manner that meets historical standards, while allowing adaptive reuse for current needs. It serves as headquarters for the Vermont Youth Conservation Corps, and rental income from events held at the Barn support VYCC’s activities and mission. The Barn is a highly visible landmark upon the landscape, and can be seen by travelers on Interstate 89. With a portion of its electrical needs being generated by solar panels, this site is a clear demonstration that historic preservation and modern technology can coexist in a peaceful and non-intrusive fashion.

Building Vibrant Places


Organization:  Memphis Area Association of Governments (TN/MS/AR)
Photographer:  Maggie Johnson
The Story:  At 495 Tennessee Street, in what is known as the newly revitalized South Main area in downtown Memphis, sits a 19th century Romanesque factory building.  Looking dilapidated from the outside; inside, it holds a secret treasure. Four members of the downtown community envisioned an opportunity with this diamond in the rough, turning the courtyard and 2-rooms on the first floor into an exciting and unique pop-up beer garden.  The Untapped event was born, bringing awareness to this building set for demolition in August. Running Thursdays to Sundays from April to June, Untapped highlighted local breweries, food trucks, music, art, and preservation.  Everyone from kids to adults enjoyed the vibrant atmosphere created by these historic brick walls.  Suitors have taken interest in the building since and in mid-July, a preliminary 90-day contract was signed on the building by a potential buyer.  Untapped’s success may save the building which was months removed from certain demise, reviving this artifact as a part of Memphis’ downtown redevelopment.

Investing in Our Regional Economy


Organization:  Land of Sky Regional Council (NC)
Photographer:  Carrie Turner
The Story:  Land of Sky’s region has a robust local food economy with over 20 tailgate markets. Several of the markets, including Asheville City Market, provide tokens in exchange for payments through EBT/SNAP/credit/debit cards. This improves the access of local food to residents of all income levels.  Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) manages the Asheville City Market, which hosts over 70 vendors each week. ASAP has led the development of tailgate markets throughout the region and their mission is to help local farms thrive, link farmers to markets and supporters, and build healthy communities through connections to local food.

Sustaining Our Communities

Sustaining_Winner_Region9Organization:  Region Nine Development Commission (MN)
Photographer:  Ashley Aukes
The Story:  Rick is not your average older adult. At age 76 he is more active than he was in his early twenties. Being active is something that became very important to Rick after his experience with a severe heart condition. His home in Elysion, MN is a prime location to support his physical activity. He is located just walking distance from the Sakatah Singing Hills State Trail, seen in this photo, and kayaks behind his home in Lake Francis. Rick hopes other older adults can see the struggles he has overcome and be inspired to become physically active themselves.

People’s Choice

Central Florida

Organization:  Central Florida Regional Planning Council 
Photographer:  Jennifer Codo-Salisbury
The Story:  Downtown Auburndale is once again bustling and filled with the sounds of children’s laughter and busy cash registers while families are seen strolling in downtown before dining in local restaurants at night and on weekends. The City with funding through the Community Redevelopment Agency took underutilized public lands and right of way next to an active heavy freight rail line and transformed it into a park that is a magnet for children and adults alike. The Central Florida Regional Planning Council works with the City  in planning for its future that also includes the opening of Florida Polytechnic, the new state university dedicated to STEM education, bringing more young adults and professionals seeking activities and services into Auburndale.


Strengthening the Built and Natural Environments


Organization:  Pennyrile Area Development District (KY)
Photographer:  Jim Creighton
The Story:  After the January 2012 collision of the cargo ship MV Delta Mariner with the Eggner’s Ferry bridge over Kentucky Lake in western Kentucky severed a major traffic corridor through the Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet expedited a contract for a replacement bridge segment.  This photo was taken on the day that the completed segment was placed into position on the piers of the bridge structure, re-opening US Highway 68 to traffic once again.

Building Vibrant Places

Organization:  Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (OK)
Photographer:  Jennifer James
The Story:  Local musicians play the guitar and violin while Oklahoma City residents enjoy connecting with their community through Open Streets OKC. The project is a partnership of the Oklahoma City-County Health Department. Coalition members include the Association of Central Oklahoma Governments (ACOG), City of Oklahoma City, Neighborhood Alliance of Central Oklahoma, and the YMCA of Greater Oklahoma City. Open Streets turned a busy Oklahoma City corridor, Northwest 23rd Street, into a car-free space for biking, walking, and playing one Sunday afternoon in March 2014.

Investing in Our Regional Economy

Regional Economy_RunnerUp_Buckeye















Organization:  Buckeye Hills-Hocking Valley Regional Development District (OH)
Photographer:  Misty Casto
The Story:  Miba Sinter USA LLC, located in McConnelsville, Ohio (about 1.5 hours southeast of Columbus) has been in production since 2010. Miba Sinter began with a 40,000 square foot facility in 2010 and has just expanded an additional 43,000 square feet in 2014. Miba Sinter USA offers high-tech sintered solutions for the North American automotive industry. Its key focus is to improve fuel efficiency and emissions by providing innovative, functional, highly precise, and cost effective components and modules.  Akkai Strohl, Machining Technician, is shown here describing a precision machining process used on a powder metallurgy part during Miba’s Expansion Grand Opening on July 10.  Steve Ferree, Site Technology Manager for Miba shown in the background,  was one of the tour leaders.

Sustaining Our Communities

Organization:  Green River Area Development District (KY)
Photographer:  Woody Maglinger
The Story:  Green River Area Development District (GRADD) AmeriCorps volunteers deliver groceries to a low-income senior in Owensboro, Kentucky during the annual ‘Stop Senior Hunger’ food drive. ‘Stop Senior Hunger’ is a public-private partnership between GRADD, Comfort Keepers, and Independence Bank. Over the past four years, generous community donations have provided nearly 20 tons of food to 1,500 citizens in need.


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].


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]

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Hotel Questions Form

New Speaker Inquiry

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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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