Trailblazer Award

Beginning in 2010, all award-winning projects will be judged by a group of peers during networking receptions that take place each year at the NADO Annual Training Conference and the National Rural Transportation Peer Learning Conference. The top winners selected by the judges will be honored as Trailblazers, and will be given special recognition during and following the conference. Judges will be looking for projects that show significant evidence of above average innovation. This category will be exclusively for one-of-a-kind projects demonstrating unique innovation.

During NADO’s 2010 Annual Training Conference in San Diego, August 28 – 31, four organizations were selected from among the 50 Innovation Award winners to recieve Trailblazer Awards. Two additional organizations were selected as Trailblazer Award winners at the National Rural Transportation Conference in St. Louis, October 20 – 22. These organizations were selected from among the 22 Excellence in Regional Transportation Awards Winners. The 2010 NADO Trailblazers are:

  • Central Ohio Local Food System Assessment and Plan – Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (Columbus, OH)
  • Cleveland Historic Cemetery – Georgia Mountains Regional Commission (Gainesville, GA)
  • Mountain Landscapes Initiative/Region A Toolbox – Southwestern Commission (Sylva, NC)
  • Recycle This Site – Land-of-Sky Regional Council (Asheville, NC)
  • Prairie Pathways Initiative – Iowa Northland Regional Council of Governments (Waterloo, IA)
  • Travel Demand Web-based Toolkit – Southwest Region Planning Commission (Keene, NH)

All Innovation Award winners receive a certificate, a press release to share with local media, and the opportunity to have a photo taken with NADO leadership during both conferences. Award winners are also often highlighted through NADO publications, outreach activities and highlighted as conference participants. The projects chosen as Trailblazers receive additional recognition and a special award.


Joe McKinney has served as Executive Director of the National Association of Development Organizations since 2012. He previously served as the Executive Director of the Land of Sky Regional Council in Asheville, North Carolina from 2003 to 2012. Under his leadership, Land of Sky became recognized nationally for its innovation in program areas including planning and economic development, workforce development, transportation and transit, aging services, volunteer services, and geographic information systems. Joe has also held various other roles in city, county, association, and government management. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Public Policy Analysis from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Master’s Degree in Public Administration from UNC-Chapel Hill.

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