2022 Planning Distinguished Alumni Awards

The ECU Planning Alumni Advisory Board established the Planning Distinguished Alumni Award, which recognizes alumni for their outstanding achievements in the planning profession, service to society, or the ECU planning program. The award continues the ECU Planning Alumnus of the Year initiatives in the 1990s. Prior recipients include Watson Brown, Mark Tipton, Dale Holland, Mark Garner, and Joe Durham.

During the 2022 Spring Banquet, three awardees were recognized.

Michelle Nance (right) with Lee Padrick (left)

Michelle Nance (right) with Lee Padrick (left)

Michelle Nance, AICP

Michelle Nance, AICP, Regional Planning Director of the Centralina Regional Council, Charlotte, NC. Graduated in 1993 with B.S. in Urban and Regional Planning with a double major in Geography, ECU; 1995 with Master of Public Administration, ECU. Michelle was named the 50 Most Influential Women of 2017 by Mecklenburg Times, recognizing the most influential women in the Charlotte region in business, government, law, and education. She was also selected as the Woman of the Year with the highest score among the 50 Most Influential Women awardees. She is a new board member of the ECU Planning Alumni Advisory Board and will join ECU Community and Regional Planning program as a Planner-in-Residence starting Fall 2022. She has served in various leadership positions for the American Planning Association (APA), N.C. Chapter of the APA, and Urban Land Institute, including the NC-APA President in 2005-2007. The Planning Distinguished Alumni Award recognizes her contributions.

James Rhodes receives the award

James Rhodes receives the award.

James Rhodes, AICP

James Rhodes, AICP, Assistant County Manager for Planning & Environment, Pitt County, NC, named another 2022 Planning Distinguished Alumni Award recipient. James received BS in Geography in 1986 and MS in Geography/Planning in 1983, both from ECU. He has held many leadership positions throughout his career, including the NC Chapter of the American Planning Association Section 5 co-leader, for over two decades. His commitment to the profession has been recognized many times. He received the 2019 NC Chapter of the APA’s Robert Reiman Award for significant contributions to the Planning professions. As an eastern NC native, James has a keen interest in building a more substantial, more resilient region focusing on improving rural, underserved areas. His devotion to the enrichment of the Planning program and its students is proven by his service to the ECU Planning Alumni Advisory Board leadership and the Planner-in-Residence program.

Merrill Flood (right) with students

Merrill Flood (right) with students

Merrill Flood

Merrill Flood, Director of Planning & Development, Community Engagement and Research, East Carolina University, also received the 2022 Planning Distinguished Alumni Award. He received the BS in Urban and Regional Planning at ECU in 1987. Before joining ECU as the Director of Planning and Development, he retired as the Assistant City Manager of the City of Greenville in 2017. Merrill directed planning, economic development, housing initiatives, disaster recovery and response programs, and public/private partnerships for over 25 years, leading to the management of city operations towards the end of his municipal government career with the city. Over the years, Merrill and his team members have received recognition nationally and from the state of NC for their work in affordable housing, economic development, community revitalization, and long-range strategic planning. Merrill has been involved in ECU Planning Alumni Advisory Board since 1992 and the NC chapter of APA since 1988. He was the Planning program’s first Planner-in-Residence starting in 2018.

*For further information about the Planning Distinguished Alumni Award, please visit the website.