Rachel Frierson is the director of programming for the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy. In this role, Rachel oversees and implements the diverse program offerings that activate the Detroit Riverfront and Dequindre Cut to create a world-class gathering space for three million visitors annually.
Rachel holds bachelor’s degrees in history and political theory from Michigan State University, and a master’s degree in public service management from DePaul University. Throughout her tenor at the Detroit Riverfront Conservancy, Rachel has led a public programming team that provides more than 200 free and low-cost public programs on the Detroit Riverfront each year.
During the pandemic, Rachel led the implementation of The Healing Memorial, the only regional Covid-19 memorial project and one of the first long-term Covid-19 recognition projects in the United States. This project, created by artist Sonya Clark, engaged more than 4,000 participants to create a palm-sized tribute to the people and things they have lost during the pandemic. This project has been recognized nationally on NPR and PBS. Rachel also recognized the opportunity of the pandemic to move Detroiters out of their comfort zones and require them to confront Detroit winters. “Winter at Valade” programming welcomed more than 50,000 people to Valade Park in the depths of the Michigan winter. Through unique experiences and warmth interventions, Rachel and her team activated Valade Park to create a place where Detroiters felt welcome, comfortable, unique, and could connect with one another despite difficult times.
Rachel has been recognized as a Next City Vanguard in 2018 and is a member of Urban Land Institute.