Michael Frerichs was born and raised in the small farming community of Gifford. He graduated from Rantoul Township High School and then from Yale University, where he majored in German studies. Upon graduation, Frerichs moved to Taiwan and studied Chinese at National Cheng Kung University while teaching English. After two years, he returned home with a desire to serve his community. He taught at his alma mater and managed a local safety engineering company, Smart Structures LLC, monitoring civil structures in the United States and China.
Frerichs was twice elected to the Champaign County Board and spent four years as Champaign County's auditor. He became the state's only elected auditor to receive a certified public finance officer designation while in office.
Frerichs was elected to the General Assembly in 2006. He currently serves as chairman of the Senate Higher Education Committee; he also sits on the Agriculture and Conservation, Licensed Activities and Pensions, Energy and Financial Institutions committees.
Frerichs championed a $30 billion construction plan for road and infrastructure improvements in Champaign and Vermillion counties. He helped secure financial assistance to farmers and advocated for alternative fuels as chairman of the Agriculture and Conservation Committee last year. A staunch advocate for affordable, accessible higher education, Frerichs worked to fund improvements at the University of Illinois, Parkland College and Danville Community College while fighting to reduce disparities in overall education funding in Illinois. He has supported Safe School Zones and Adopt-a-Park programs statewide. He sponsored the Renewable Energy Production District Act and was a leading force behind the renewal of the state's successful Enterprise Zone program, which promotes economic growth and job creation.
Frerichs serves as the treasurer of the Midwest US-China Association and frequently speaks on the importance of trade and investment relations between Illinois and China.