Press Release: NARC Celebrates Regional Leadership and Excellence

Washington, D.C. (July 12, 2016) – The National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) presented its 2016 General Achievement and Leadership Awards at its 50th Annual Conference and Exhibition Gala Dinner in Salt Lake City, Utah on June 28th. Unique to this year, NARC created a story map to invite you to learn more about each award recipient. Visit narc.org/awards/2016-awards for in-depth information on each award recipient as well as photos, videos, and maps relating to each award.

“We are honored to recognize and celebrate such outstanding leaders and works of achievement this year,” said NARC Immediate Past President Byron Ryder, Judge of Leon County, Texas. “We thank our regions for their continued pursuance of and commitment to bettering our communities in innovative and engaging ways. The hard work of all our nominees and our members truly shows their dedication to excellence. As NARC celebrates 50 years of regional collaboration and innovation for stronger communities, we’re excited to see what the future holds.”

NARC General Achievement Awards recognize excellence in programs and service of regional councils and metropolitan planning organizations. The 2016 achievement award winners are:

Major Metro Award
Southeast Michigan Council of Governments
Access to Core Services Project
The Southeast Michigan Council of Governments’ (SEMCOG) Access to Core Services Project goal was to determine how accessible core services are for the residents of their region. To do this, SEMCOG linked land use patterns with the region’s transportation system. Having learned of the significant obstacles residents face accessing core services, regardless of economic or social conditions, SEMCOG is now working to address several core objectives including improved and expanded transportation, better located core services, and enhanced coordination and planning across the region. Ultimately, this project will help ensure that priority investments are made throughout the region to increase overall accessibility regardless of transportation mode.

Medium Metro Award
Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission
Going Places Initiative
The Miami Valley Regional Planning Commission (MVRPC) Going Places Initiative is a comprehensive, replicable, regional land use planning initiative that sprang out of a desire to address urban sprawl and the resulting problems. MVRPC brought together more than 80 local jurisdictions including representatives of the private and civic sectors, and other regional stakeholders to participate in a variety of meetings. These included 17 interactive community workshops, 15 focus groups, and surveys conducted by phone and mail. Thanks to Going Places, local communities are now able to link their land use decisions with fiscal sustainability at the regional level.

Rural Award
Green River Area Development District
Czech Republic International Economic Partnership
Over the past decade, the Green River Area Development District (GRADD) Czech Republic International Economic Partnership emerged as an important way of convening representatives from government, business and industry, and education to share cross-national insights about and solutions to issues of common concern. The collaboration between GRADD and the Regional Authority of the Olomouky Kraj began in 2007 and continues today. Most recently, both regions participated in the Hannover, Germany Messe 2016, the world’s leading trade fair for industrial technology. The partnership enables both regions to come together so that “civic leaders and citizens alike can glean fresh insights and ideas” and demonstrate the power of regionalism.

NARC awarded three leadership awards: the Walter Scheiber Leadership Award, Tom Bradley Award, and John Bosley Award. The Scheiber Award recognizes the significant impacts an executive director has made at the local, state, and national levels. The Tom Bradley Award recognizes leadership excellence an elected or appointed official has made in advocating regional concepts, approaches, and programs at any level of government. The John Bosley Award recognizes outstanding service and contributions by an individual with at least ten years of service with a regional council in advancing the success of the regional community.

The 2016 leadership award winners are:

Walter Scheiber Award
Todd Ashby
Executive Director, Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization
Todd Ashby, executive director of the Des Moines Area Metropolitan Planning Organization (DMAMPO), is the driving force behind the Des Moines Transload Facility, which will serve businesses throughout the region by connecting rail and truck networks – the life-blood of the Des Moines area. Under Mr. Ashby’s leadership, DMAMPO received grant funding from the Iowa Department of Transportation to conduct a rail market analysis and feasibility study. He raised regional understanding and awareness about the importance of rail freight.  He secured a $1.7 million, zero-interest loan from the Iowa DOT to build rail infrastructure such as tracks, switches, and ballasts at the Transload Facility. Once operational later this year, the four-railroad hub will improve the region’s freight capacity, add rail options for existing businesses, help attract new industries and economic development, and significantly lower import and export costs for industries doing business in central Iowa by increasing competition.

Tom Bradley Award
Angela Connolly
Supervisor, Polk County, IA
Since her first election in 1998 to the Polk County Board of Supervisors, Angela Connolly has proved a powerful voice for regionalism. Over the past five years, she held leadership roles in three of the most significant planning efforts for the entire region of Greater Des Moines. She served as Co-chair of The Tomorrow Plan, a long-range, government-driven plan for the sustainable development of the Greater Des Moines metropolitan region; Tri-chair of Capital Crossroads, a business-driven plan for improving the central Iowa region; and Commissioner of the DART Forward 2035 Transit Services Plan. She draws attention and gives credibility to the importance of regional efforts in Greater Des Moines.

John Bosley Award
Laura Koprowski
Public & Government Affairs, Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission
Laura Koprowski is a driving force at the Mid-Ohio Regional Planning Commission (MORPC) in Columbus, Ohio, and has been for 20 years. In her role as Director of Public and Government Affairs, she is responsible for creating and executing communications, marketing, and advocacy strategies to promote MORPC and its mission. She advocates for a more proactive and sophisticated role for regional councils. During her tenure, Ms. Koprowski created and implemented the MORPC Regional Policy Roundtable, a legislative task force that collectively creates regional priorities, a regional mission, and a regional vision that is the basis for advocacy at the state and national levels. She convenes newly elected officials to educate them about MORPC and its policy and legislative priorities. She is a consummate advocate, briefing lawmakers and testifying on issues of significance to the region. In nominating Ms. Koprowski, William Murdock, executive director of MORPC, wrote that “[Laura Koprowski’s] vision for a new role for regional councils in cross-sector collaboration and public policy advocacy is notable. Her work over the past few years is motivating new approaches for the entire regional community.”

Information about NARC awards, conferences, and leadership can be found at www.NARC.org.

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