Gretchen Harrison is a student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign pursuing a master’s degree in Urban Planning with a concentration in Community Development for Social Justice. As an emerging planner, Gretchen is interested in exploring how community-led preservation interventions can strengthen our collective sense of place and belonging, and expand awareness of our nation’s shared, complex history.

She previously worked as a National Council for Preservation Education (NCPE) intern at the National Park Service’s Midwest Regional Office in Omaha, Nebraska. As an intern, she prepared various planning documents and served as the lead author for two reconnaissance surveys, including one that examined a site in Springfield, Illinois, associated with the 1908 Race Riot.

Gretchen holds a Bachelor of Science in Architectural Studies from the University of Arkansas. Her undergraduate studies focused on cultural resource management and the role of design in both combating and perpetuating social inequity. For her undergraduate capstone, Gretchen prepared a Historic American Landscapes Survey report for Cane Hill Township in Northwest Arkansas.

As a Division Fellow, Gretchen hopes to further explore the potential of preservation and urban design in promoting equity, diversity, and inclusion goals, through research and collaboration.