August 2, 2023

Contact: David C. Blount
Executive Director

Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions (VAPDC)

Names Award Winners

Norfolk, VA--The Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions (VAPDC) announced several award recipients at its annual Summer Conference held last week in Norfolk, VA.

Two individuals were awarded The Gordon N. Dixon Achievement Award, which recognizes an executive director, a VAPDC commissioner or a PDC commissioner, who has provided leadership and made outstanding contributions to promoting the concept of regionalism in the Commonwealth:

David Tarter is the mayor of Falls Church and a member of the Northern Virginia Regional Commission (NVRC). As NVRC Chair during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mayor Tarter convened critical virtual meetings with elected officials, locality staff, public health officials and other state, regional and local officials to coordinate the region’s response to the pandemic. In making the nomination, NVRC Executive Director Bob Lazaro also noted that Tarter “was an effective advocate working with the state Administration and federal officials to ensure that ARPA and CARES Act funding was fairly distributed.”

Melody Foster is the Executive Director of the Commonwealth Regional Council (CRC). She has been with the CRC since 1986, culminating in her appointment in 2017 as interim director and then Executive Director. Melody was nominated for this award by the seven member governments that comprise the CRC, which cited her for “effective management of the CRC and her positive leadership through any challenge.” They also noted that she distinguishes herself for her work with stakeholders, and has an unwavering commitment to excellence, innovative thinking, and ability to navigate complex challenges.

The VAPDC recognized Michelle Edwards of the Rappahannock-Rapidan Regional Commission (RRRC) for The 2023 Robert W. Baker Achievement Award. This award recognizes persons who have been involved in planning district commission activities and who have contributed significantly to promoting regional planning and development, while impacting more than one PDC. Edwards was recognized for spearheading RRRC’s WIP Program, while also serving on the Chesapeake Bay Stakeholders Advisory Group. She also has served as vice-chair and then chair of the Chesapeake Bay Program’s Local Leadership Workgroup. Her nomination noted that she “has advanced work to increase the knowledge and capacity of local officials, with the goal of implementation of local conservation actions.”

The President’s Award was presented to Kim Callis of the Southside Planning District Commission (SPDC). Kim had a lengthy career in both the public and private sectors, including over 20 years in local government, and recently retired to enjoy life outside the daily grind of work. He has served as commissioner and chair of the SPDC. He has been a member of the VAPDC Board of Directors for five years, including three years as President, during which he led the organization through the uncertainty of the pandemic with leadership and grace. He is a strong believer in regional partnerships and the role they can play in leveraging resources. In presenting the award, President Lou Ann Wallace called Callis “a person of character and integrity, kindness and great patience.”

The Robert M. deVoursney Best Practices Award was presented to the Hampton Roads Planning District Commission’s (HRPDC) Roadway Flooding Sensors project. The Best Practices Award recognizes organizations that have initiated innovative regional activities which have contributed significantly to the effectiveness of a region. The primary objective of this project is to monitor roadway flooding by using real-time data to make informed decisions and build a smart network of available driving conditions. A secondary objective is to make the data available to Hampton Roads area stakeholders to better understand and predict future flooding events. HRPDC coordinated with its 17 member jurisdictions to identify 200 road locations that experience frequent flooding and then picked 20 locations for this pilot project.

Planning District Commissions (PDCs)were enabled by state legislation in 1968 and most were established the following year. There are 21 PDCs and Regional Commissions in Virginia made up of elected officials and citizens appointed by local government. The purpose of the Planning District Commissions is to encourage and facilitate regional solutions to problems of area-wide significance. This is done by promoting the efficient development of the physical, social, and economic policies of all districts by assisting local governments to plan for the future. The PDCs of Virginia created the Virginia Association of Planning District Commissions to share best practices, and further regionalism across the Commonwealth.


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