New Executive Director (Media Release)


For Immediate Release

December 14, 2015



Kristen Guinn, 616-458-9481, kguinn@shrr.com

Bill Kirk (616) 719-4610, bkirk@downtowngr.org


Friends of Grand Rapids Parks Announces New Executive Director

Organization excited for next generation of leadership, collaboration across the City


(GRAND RAPIDS, MICH.) –Friends of Grand Rapids Parks (FGRP), an independent, citizen led, nonprofit founded in 2008 with a mission to identify park projects, mobilize people, and generate resources to protect, enhance, and expand the City’s parks and public spaces has announced Tracey Flower as the organization’s new Executive Director. Flower will fill the vacancy created by Steve Faber’s departure in July to a Lansing-based communications firm.

“We are very pleased to announce Tracey as our new Executive Director,” stated Kristen Guinn, FGRP Board of Directors President. “She will bring leadership and creativity to Friends’ programs and a deep sense of commitment to our mission.  She has served the nonprofit world at program, fundraising, executive and leadership levels, and has a breadth of perspective and experience.”

Flower’s resume includes her most recent role as Executive Director for the Vail Symposium, a 45-year-old nonprofit organization in Vail, Colorado. Tracey moved to Colorado from Michigan in 2005 after receiving a Bachelor of Arts degree in Professional Writing from Grand Valley State University. She worked in the food and beverage industry for Vail Resorts for five years and, in 2010, she began working with the Vail Symposium as a Communications Intern. She was promoted three times within the organization in less than four years and served as Executive Director for two years. Tracey was nominated for the Vail Valley Partnership’s Young Professional of the Year award for her work with the Symposium in 2014. She has also been a freelance writer and has written articles for Vail.net and the Vail Daily.

“I’m excited about the opportunity to work with such a well-respected organization in this community. I look forward to working with the staff and Board to further the mission of Friends of Grand Rapids Parks to reach more individuals and neighborhoods in the city,” remarked Flower. “As someone who passionately enjoys being outdoors myself, I’m thrilled to be joining an organization that makes being outside more enjoyable for others. I look forward to getting to know the community and everyone who loves Grand Rapids and calls this city home.”

A group of dedicated community members had a vision in 2007 to build Friends of Grand Rapids Parks from the ground up, which led to the hiring of Faber in 2009.  Since then, the organization has achieved incredible success in creating a game-changing non-profit in the community that in a very short time has made a huge impact, is financially healthy and sustainable, and is poised for a great future.

Friends of Grand Rapids Parks has led efforts to acquire, build, or redevelop 18 acres of park space in Grand Rapids, and has stepped in to coordinate over 30,000 volunteer hours in our parks during a time when economic and budgetary forces beyond anyone’s control could have resulted in basic abandonment of our parks. Some significant achievements include:

  • Expanding Joe Taylor Park in a Grand Rapids’ neighborhood underserved for green space, and leading the effort to create the beautiful Pleasant Park on a former surface parking lot in the South Hill neighborhood
  • Acquisition of the 4th Street Woods to expand park space and recreational opportunities
  • Multiple successful fundraising campaigns to keep our City pools open under threat of closure
  • FGRP has been a stellar partner to the City of Grand Rapids, engaging the community and neighborhoods in the planning of 16 parks, as well as playing a critical role in securing dedicated funding sources for our parks, from capital campaigns and sponsorships to an overwhelming, historic victory at the ballot box in 2013
  • FGRP launched the Urban Forest Project in 2011 which has been a nationally recognized in areas like data driven planning, community engagement, and urban forest expansion and management
  • FGRP established a Parks Maintenance and Improvement Fund at the Community Foundation to help with ongoing maintenance at new parks


About Friends of Grand Rapids Parks


The Friends of Grand Rapids Parks is an independent, citizen led, nonprofit enterprise founded in 2008, working closely with but separate from the City, with the mission to identify specific park projects, mobilize people, and generate resources to protect, enhance, and expand the City’s parks and public spaces. In a nutshell, we make park improvement projects happen by bringing together neighbors, park users, the City, funders, volunteers and contractors.  We believe that vibrant parks and public spaces are essential to support the community’s economic competitiveness, environmental health and cultural well-being. We understand that a healthy park system is a long-term commitment.


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