Rochelle was honored with the Spirit of Hope Governor’s Service Award from the Michigan Community Service Commission on September 5, 2019.  (Pictured here with friends and supporters). For more details, read here.

Rochelle won the 2019 NABJ Salute to Excellence Award for Best Columns at the annual convention in Florida. She was among former colleagues from the Free Press who won seven national awards.


Rochelle’s book, “The Burden: African Americans and the Enduring Impact of Slavery,” is the 2018 GOLD Winner for Anthologies from the Foreword Indies Awards!

For the 10th year in a row, readers of HOUR magazine named Rochelle Best Local Female Columnist. (Mitch Albom was named Best Local Male Columnist).

DETROIT (May 11) _ Mayor Mike Duggan today reaffirmed the City’s commitment to its creative community by announcing the appointment of longtime Detroit journalist and community advocate Rochelle Riley as the City of Detroit’s Director of Arts and Culture. In the newly-created position, Riley will be responsible for giving shape and focus to Detroit’s investments in arts and culture and advocating for opportunities for one of the most inventive and resourceful creative communities in the world. She will work with artists, cultural organizations, philanthropic funders and entrepreneurs to advocate for, promote and develop arts and culture. “This is a role I have wanted to fill for some time, but had not found the individual who had both the stature and passion needed for supporting and growing arts and culture in Detroit – until now,” Mayor Duggan said. “Rochelle has the respect and credibility to build relationships between the City and its major cultural institutions and potential funders, as well as budding artists and entertainers. She will serve as the strategic leader and coordinator for all of our efforts to support Detroit’s creative community.” Riley, who is expected to start in her new role May 27, said she understands that arts, culture and entertainment are not just words in Detroit. “They are a way of life,” she said. “Detroit does not have a creative corridor. Detroit is a creative corridor, with people filing in from around the world every year. It is time for Detroit to not just celebrate its past and better support its present but to create a future where innovation and new art and music and theater and dance are not just welcome, but celebrated and supported. The arts and culture and entertainment industry is a multi-billion industry in this city, one that can produce jobs and opportunities that will re-establish Detroit as a thriving creative epicenter.”

DETROIT _ Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley was honored with First Place for Local Column by SPJ-Detroit at its annual awards ceremony. The award was for a collection of columns that included her coverage of the funeral of Aretha Franklin, the Queen of Soul. The win came one year after she was honored with a Lifetime Achievement Award from SPJ-Detroit. It also came a week before her final day at the Detroit Free Press after 19 and a half years.

DETROIT _ Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley was honored with First Place for Local Column in the 2018 Michigan Associated Press Media Editors newspaper contest. She was among winners at the Free Press who took home 28 awards, including the Best Newspaper and First Amendment Awards. The Associated Press is a not-for-profit news cooperative representing 1,300 newspapers and 5,000 broadcast stations in the United States.

Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley was honored with a 2019 National Headliner Award. Her winning work in the local columns category included:





Rochelle Riley was inducted into the N.C. Media and Journalism Hall of Fame at the Carolina Inn in Chapel Hill, N.C. (You can watch her speech here)! The Hall of Fame recognizes individuals with ties to the state who have had a significant impact on the professions and communities they serve. The honor is awarded to people at any stage of their careers who demonstrate leadership in their spheres of influence; service to the professions and society; and performance that meets the highest professional standards. Honorees are also people who inspire and advance others in media and journalism careers.

WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 20, 2019) Rochelle received the Service in Media Award from Voices for National Service on Tuesday, February 12 at its annual gala in Washington, D.C. She is being recognized for using journalism to raise awareness of and encourage Americans’ participation in national service. Previous award recipients include: Judy Woodruff, David Brooks, E.J. Dionne, Jonathan Alter and Ron Fournier. Voices for National Service is a diverse coalition of national and local service programs, state service commissions and individual champions committed to expanding opportunities for Americans of all ages to serve their communities. For more information, visit Voices.

DETROIT (October 30, 2018) _ For the ninth year in a row, readers of Hour magazine named Rochelle Riley as Best Local Female Columnist. The annual contest, which features reader favorites in categories ranging from food to shopping, bestows the awards that look like magazine covers, each fall. Rochelle, who has written a column for the Detroit Free Press since 2000, has won numerous other awards and was a 2016 an inductee into the Michigan Journalism Hall of Fame. She is currently at work on her second book. She is on tour with her first, “The Burden: African Americans and the Enduring Impact of Slavery” (Wayne State University Press).

TRAVERSE CITY, Michigan (October 22, 2018) _ Rochelle hosted “An Evening with Alice  Walker” as part of the National Writers Series at the City Opera House in Traverse City. As the first African American woman to receive the Pulitzer Prize, Alice Walker has written works of the utmost cultural importance. Her novel,The Color Purple, was made into an Academy Award-nominated film and a Broadway musical. Ms. Walker talked about her life and latest book, Taking the Arrow Out of the Heart, a stunning poetry collection.

INDIANAPOLIS _ Rochelle Riley was chosen to receive the Eugene C. Pulliam Fellowship for Editorial Writing from the Sigma Delta Chi (Society of Professional Journalists) Foundation. The prize of $75,000 is awarded to enable a mid-career editorial writer or columnist to have time away from daily responsibilities for study and research. The cash award allows Pulliam Editorial Fellows to: take courses; pursue independent study; travel; and pursue other endeavors that enrich their knowledge of a public interest issue. Rochelle used the Pulliam to study the impact of trauma and toxic environments on how children learn.

NASHVILLE (October 13, 2018) Rochelle was chosen to present “The Burden” at the 30th Annual Southern Festival of Books at the Nashville Public Library. The day-long event featuring panel discussions, author signings and

 readings is one of the best in the country. On her panel, Rochelle was joined by Kiese Laymon, who talked about his memoir, “Heavy” – a highly praised revelation. You can watch the discussion here.

TROY, MI (September 27, 2018)_ Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley received the Wonder Woman Award from the Women Officials Network Foundation on September 27 at the San Marino Club. She was honored for her commitment to community, quality of journalism and work on behalf of children.

BALTIMORE (September 20, 2018) _ Detroit Free Press columnist Rochelle Riley was honored as finalist for the 2018 Vernon Jarrett Medal for Journalistic Excellence for her work encouraging the city of Detroit to find a way to celebrate the memory of legendary boxer Joe Louis. When the Joe Louis Arena is torn down on the river, his name will be visible all around the city on the Joe Louis Greenway.