Meet Karen Chappelle, the Green Garage’s new Bradley Fellow! The Bradley Fellowship provides an opportunity for an entrepreneur to develop their business out of the Green Garage for a season. It is sponsored by Green Garage co-founder Helen Bradley and is named in honor of her late husband Tom, who had a gift for making people feel welcome here.
Karen is the president and CEO of Casablanca Consultants, , which recently produced a brand-new theatre festival in town called the Detroit Heritage Theatre Festival. Karen is a Detroit native who moved back to the city in 2016 after a nearly four-decade stint in Los Angeles in the Office of the Attorney General.
Though she worked in the legal profession for several decades, Karen always maintained a passion for theatre. Near the end of her legal career, she decided to pursue a Master’s degree in Arts Management from Claremont Graduate University . During her studies, she discovered the playwright August Wilson, who created a collection of plays about each decade of the 20th century in Pittsburgh. This collection made her think about creating a similar collection of plays about Detroit. When she retired, she moved back to her hometown of Detroit and got to work on the Detroit Heritage Theatre Festival. The festival premiered in mid-May of this year and featured seven short plays that take place in Detroit, along with a staged reading of Detroit ‘67, an acclaimed recent play by Detroit-born playwright Dominique Morisseau.
Karen became involved with the Green Garage through David Broner a small business mentor whom she met at the Detroit Public Library. Karen explained her idea about wanting to create a program for young playwrights to present their work, and allow others to enjoy it as well. She was encouraged to attend a Friday community lunch conversation, which is where she met Pam Owens, the owner of Your Business, Your Brand Creatively. After connecting with Pam about marketing the festival, Karen began to connect with other Green Garagers, like Gracie Xavier from Global Detroit. She eventually came in contact with Patronicity, a crowdfunding company through which she was able to raise more than $7,500 toward the festival. Everyone who Karen met at the Green Garage helped her organize the theater program that she had dreamt of. Karen attributes her success to the network she created at the Green Garage. One of her favorite things about the Green Garage is the whole community itself, more specifically, the way that everybody helps each other. We’re looking forward to seeing how her next projects unfold here, including a play she’s planning to produce about the Tuskegee Airmen!
The Green Garage is home to a strong, diverse, and supportive community of professionals. We work across a wide array of industries but share a commitment to each other and to minimizing the environmental impact of what we do. We believe that people are more likely to succeed when they’re surrounded by a supportive community, and we’ve seen that proven out as our members tell us time and again that the Green Garage has changed their lives. This series, Green Garage Member Stories, explores how.
Green Garage Member Stories are written by Nicolas Perales, a student at Detroit Cristo Rey High School who’s working at the Green Garage this year.