News from the Top

IDA Announces 2021 Inspired Leader Award Winners


Professional place management is an extraordinarily sharing community where duplicating great ideas and successful projects is celebrated. If you need a solution, IDA members are quick to share their programs. It’s best seen during the Downtown Achievement Awards program where innovative practices are honored each year at the Annual Conference & Marketplace and shared for all to use.

Just last year, IDA took the deeply important step to look beyond projects and begin recognizing individuals who fulfill our ideals as inspired leaders shaping cities. We all can appreciate how urban place management professionals are at the forefront of significant change throughout metropolitan areas around the world and it’s time to elevate the leaders who make our districts so successful. Leaders working inside our organizations and the leaders outside who champion the work at the local level

IDA’s newest award, the Inspired Leader Award, honors those who have shown clear achievements in recent years in addressing a broad range of issues impacting how people live, work and play in downtowns and city centers. In essence, we recognize the leadership driving the innovation. The 2021 Inspired Leader Award winners include Druh Farrell, former City Councillor for the City of Calgary, Alberta and April Norton, Director of Downtown & Tourism Development at the City of Thomasville, Georgia. 

A true advocate of downtown and the work of place management, Druh Farrell has been a champion for city-building and placemaking, changing Calgary’s urban landscape. In the last five years, many of the projects that Councillor Farrell worked on for years have come to fruition, such as the redevelopment of Downtown East Village, RiverWalk and St. Patrick’s Island.  We congratulate and thank Councillor Farrell for helping to build great cities.

April Norton has dedicated herself to the success of Thomasville’s downtown, helping to maintain its position as a Georgia Exceptional Main Street program. Her vision for a modern, accessible city has resulted in significant changes to the built environment, as well as the amenities and services that make a city vibrant for living, working and playing. It was so wonderful to celebrate April’s award with her team virtually. We congratulate April and thank her for setting the standard for leadership in her community, for her team, and for our profession.

It has been wonderful to begin honoring leaders in addition to innovative projects.  I hope you all will join in our celebration of excellence and consider recommending inspired leaders for next year’s program.