Photo Gallery: Smart Growth America's 2013 Leadership Awards

Guests at Smart Growth America’s 2013 Leadership Awards cheered (literally!) for smart growth, as well as the three recipients of this year’s awards.

Progressive Insurance was honored for its Snapshot program, the most widely available usage-based auto insurance program on the market today. Mayor Laura McConwell and the City of Mission, Kansas were honored for their commitment to investing in infrastructure. And Mayor Randy Rhoads and the City of Lee’s Summit, Missouri were honored for their focus on healthy, active transportation systems.

The awards were presented on Friday at a ceremony in Kansas City, Missouri, during the New Partners for Smart Growth conference. In his introduction, Governor Parris Glendenning cited the progress in Mission and Lee’s Summit as substantial changes in how cities view and finance infrastructure improvements, as well as promote choice to their residents.

As Mayor McConwell put it, “Infrastructure is not sexy, but it’s vital for our community to move forward.” Mayor Rhoads said Lee’s Summit’s Complete Streets policy and its resulting projects show the city’s growing sensitivity to people’s desire for transportation choices other than cars.

Progressive Snapshot, which received Smart Growth America’s first Leadership Award for Business, is also sensitive to these changing transportation demands. Geoff Anderson, President and CEO of Smart Growth America, said Snapshot represents an early attempt to monetize smart growth’s benefits. David Pratt, General Manager of the program, mentioned that more than one million drivers already use Snapshot, and personally, it has saved his family more than $500 in annual insurance costs.

Mayor John Engen of Missolua, Montana, spoke on behalf of Smart Growth America’s Local Leaders Council, and explained that smart growth principles instill a sense of community that could be lost if not for the work of local leaders. Both Mayor McConwell and Mayor Rhoads characterized their respective successes as collaborative and long-term efforts, with McConwell calling Mission’s experience “a journey of all of us.” Mayor Rhoads reinforced that pursuing smart growth principles is an evolution for Lee’s Summit, where “our baby steps are getting bigger as each day goes by.”

Smart Growth America’s annual Leadership Awards honors elected officials and business leaders who have shown exceptional leadership in smart growth policy development or implementation. In 2011, North Carolina State Senator Floyd B. McKissick and Representative Jennifer Weiss received the award for their outstanding leadership in smart growth policymaking that will make North Carolina neighborhoods even greater places to live. In 2012, Darrell Steinberg, California State Senate President Pro Tem, received it for his support for SB375, a state law that integrates greenhouse gas reduction goals into California’s existing regional transportation planning process.

Congratulations once again to this year’s award winners.