Rachel Kennedy, a national leader in the advocacy, planning and preservation of historic sites and landscapes, has been named president and chief executive of the Olmsted Parks Conservancy, the organization announced Monday.

Kennedy begins her new post on Feb. 8. She succeeds Mimi Zinniel, who is retiring after serving in the top role since 2007.

Rachel Kennedy | Photo courtesy of RMK Photo

The appointment comes just as Olmsted Parks Conservancy is completing its goal of raising $11.6 million for investments in the Olmsted Park projects throughout metro Louisville. As IL reported in December, the group was looking for a last push to reach a three-year target for its Campaign for Extraordinary Parks.

According to the release, Kennedy is joining the Conservancy from her current position with the Kentucky Historic Preservation Office, where she is manager of Kentucky Heritage Council’s Historic Sites Survey. In that post, she worked with communities across the state to evaluate and protect historic places and buildings, including, in Louisville, two Olmsted Park projects involving Shawnee and Victory Parks.

“I can think of few greater historic/cultural landscapes across our commonwealth than the work of Frederick Law Olmsted and Olmsted Brothers in Louisville — who were essential to the development of Louisville’s world-class park and parkways system,” Kennedy said in a news release. “I can also think of no better challenge than the distinction of working to help our community protect, preserve, and participate in the Olmsted Parks system.”

Prior to joining the Historic Preservation Office, Kennedy was executive director of Preservation Kentucky Inc., a nonprofit where she worked with the National Trust for Historic Preservation, the State Historic Preservation Office to evaluate historical sites for listing.

“Rachel will bring great enthusiasm for the mission of Olmsted Parks Conservancy and a commitment to advocacy for the Olmsted Parks,” Earl Jones, Olmsted Parks Conservancy board chairman, said in the announcement.

According to the release, Kennedy lives in the Germantown neighborhood. She attended the University of Kentucky, where she received Bachelor of Arts and Master of Historic Preservation degrees.

She has served as adjunct faculty for the University of Kentucky and Jefferson Community and Technical College, where she currently works with students in the Samuel Plato Academy for Historic Preservation Trades.

She serves on Mayor Fischer’s Historic Preservation Advisory Task Force and also on the board of the Louisville Historical League. She is an active bicyclist and has created local and statewide bicycle tours to raise funds for historic preservation.


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