NIRPC’S Leadership Elected to National Positions; Benson recognized with NARC President’s Award

June 28, 2023

Contact:  Ty Warner, NIRPC Executive Director

NIRPC’s Leadership Elected to National Positions; Benson recognized with NARC President’s Award

Detroit, MI:  Northwestern Indiana Regional Planning Commission leaders were elected to key national board positions as the National Association of Regional Councils (NARC) celebrated its 57th Annual Conference and Exhibition in Detroit, Michigan earlier this month.

Justin Kiel, County Council member of La Porte County and NIRPC’s immediate past chair, was elected to serve as Senior Vice President of NARC’s Board of Directors. Kiel is currently in his first term as a County Council member. Kiel was previously a member of the La Crosse Town Council for 8 years, serving for 6 years as Town Council President.

Upon his election, Kiel spoke to the value of getting to know other board members of regional councils such as NIRPC from across the United States. “I look forward to continuing the great work that NARC does,” he said.

Also during the gathering, NIRPC’s Executive Director Ty Warner succeeded Stanislaus Council of Governments (California) Executive Director Rosa De León Park as Chairman of the NARC Executive Directors Council.

“NIRPC has a long history of involvement in NARC,” Warner said. “Our participation has afforded us the opportunity to learn best practices from other regional councils and apply them for the benefit of our own region.”

NIRPC has had two of its commissioners serve as President of the national organization. Dave Shafer, former Clerk-Treasurer of the Town of Munster, was elected President in 2013, followed by Geof Benson of the Beverly Shores Town Council, who was elected NARC President in 2019.

Benson, a former Chair of NIRPC, was awarded the NARC President’s Award during the Detroit conference. The award recognizes “leadership and excellence in advocating regional concepts, approaches, and programs at all levels of the regional community.” In addition to serving as President of the NARC Board, Benson was chair of the NARC Environment Committee for over 4 years and served on the NARC Board overall for 11 years. Benson served actively on the NIRPC Commission for 15 years and was twice elected Chair of the NIRPC Commission, which is an honor granted to only one other NIRPC chair in recent memory.

“Coming to these conferences year after year and taking all the information back to our regions and our councils and implementing it is just an incredible resource,” Benson said during his acceptance.

NIRPC is the regional council of local governments and federally designated Metropolitan Planning Organization for Northwest Indiana. NIRPC’s purpose is to “provide a coordinative management process for Lake, Porter, and LaPorte Counties and to institute and maintain a comprehensive planning and programming process for transportation, economic development, and environmental policy.”

NARC serves as a national voice for regionalism by advocating for regional cooperation as the most effective way to address a variety of community planning and development opportunities and issues. NARC’s member organizations are composed of multiple local governments that work together to serve American communities – large and small, urban and rural. For additional information, please visit .

Photo: Beverly Shores Town Council Member Geof Benson receives the NARC President’s Award from Carol Vinton, Supervisor for Mills County, Iowa, at the National Association of Regional Councils’ Conference and Exhibition in Detroit, Michigan, earlier this month.

Last modified: June 28, 2023