2023 Annual Conference Review


The 2023 Annual Conference was a big success! A record number of attendees gathered to meet with peers across the region and learn of the great work getting done at local development districts near and far. The DDAA Board of Directors enjoyed hosting members at this year’s DDAA Annual Conference in Arlington, VA, beginning with the traditional Sunday Dinner Banquet. The Banquet began with a warm welcome from DDAA President Jeffrey Box, President and CEO of the Northeastern Pennsylvania Alliance, and a visit from Appalachian Regional Commission Executive Director Brandon McBride. DDAA was proud to present Phil Trew of High Country Council of Governments in North Carolina with the Don Myers Humanitarian Award and Beth Jones of Southeast Tennessee Development District with the John Whisman Vision Award (pictured below with Jeannette Wierzbicki, Steve Russell, Brandon McBride, Beth Jones, Phil Trew, Jeffrey Box, and Burke Walker). Mr. Box also announced that Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) and Congressman Glenn Thompson (R-PA) will be receiving this year’s Congressional Award.

The Annual Business Meeting, led by President Jeffrey Box (pictured below), heard from ARC leaders including Brandon McBride, States’ Washington Representative Jim Hyland, and Congressional Liaison Specialist Guy Land. Attendees learned of ARC programs and priorities and the state of the ARC budget and legislative outlook. This was followed by the formal business meeting, including a financial report from Treasurer Steve Pelissier and a report from Training Committee Chair Heather Feldman. The meeting was concluded by elections led by Nominating Committee Chair Jeannette Wierzbicki. DDAA is happy to welcome Richard Zink, Chuck Hammonds, Scotty Wampler, and Michelle Jordan to the Board, and thanks departing Board Members Jeannette Wierzbicki, Mark Farley, Aaron Sizemore, and Steve Russell for their services.

The 2023 NADO-DDAA Washington Conference officially kicked off following the DDAA Annual Business Meeting with a panel of leaders from key federal agencies. Representatives from USDA Rural Development, Department of Housing and Urban Development, and the Economic Development Administration (represented by Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Economic Development Alejandra Castillo, pictured below) discussed federal funding programs and current agency initiatives.

DDAA also had the opportunity to hear from Federal Co-Chair Gayle Manchin (pictured below) in a breakfast session. President Jeffrey Box welcomed Ms. Manchin with gratitude for ARC’s contributions to local development districts and the Appalachian Region. Ms. Manchin then gave an inspiring call to action, asking local development districts to connect with their neighbors and find ways to serve the region in new ways.

The conference also featured great sessions on topics including project development, recovery-to-work, and tourism development. Despite turmoil on Capitol Hill, a keynote presentation from Jake Sherman of Punchbowl Social provided a good start to productive meetings on the Hill for LDD staff and leaders.

What a great week it was!