Lara Smith of Dad’s Garage: Making theater fun, a part of the community, and financially sustainable
As a podcaster for justice, I stand with my sisters from the Women of Color Podcasters Community. We are podcasters united to condemn the tragic murders of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor and many others at the hands of police. This is a continuation of the systemic racism pervasive in our country since its inception and we are committed to standing against racism in all its forms.
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The Companies that Care podcast highlights companies and business leaders who are making a difference in the world, like Lara Smith, former managing director of Dad’s Garage, a theatre company in Atlanta, Georgia. Since we recorded this interview, Lara now works as a consultant for Purpose Possible, and Dad’s Garage’s new managing director is Stacey Sharer. The transition happened just in the last month.
During this interview, we spoke about the powerhouse that is Lara and how she evolved into her own. We also spoke about Dad’s Garage, which Lara ran for nine years. Lara led the organization through losing their home and finding a permanent one, running a nontraditional capital campaign, overseeing renovations, and most recently, surviving a pandemic. In that time, the organization’s budget nearly doubled. Lara was recently named to the 2020 Atlanta 500 most influential leaders by Atlanta Magazine.
The mission of Dad’s Garage is to transform people, communities, and perspectives through laughter. The theater is also described as a “gateway drug to the arts.” The organization has extensive outreach and internship programs, a pay-it-forward ticket program, and several scholarships. Most of their shows are created in house. We talked about the way Dad’s has been supporting its artists through the pandemic. Dad’s also offers corporate training to Fortune 500 companies in the Atlanta area
Lara gave me one of the best tips I’ve received in podcasting: her gratitude practice. You’ll have to listen to the podcast to hear what it is!
You can follow along with Lara’s career through her website. Lara excels at leading strategic planning processes; she has led ten processes for seven different organizations. These include two arts organizations, a business association, an organization focused on emergency assistance for farmers, and an organization focused on disrupting the prison pipeline and ending the cycle of poverty. Lara is a skilled facilitator, having facilitated brainstorming sessions with as many as 50 artists at a time. This skill has come in handy when building an arts coalition to focus on advocacy. Lastly, Lara loves helping others unleash their full potential through coaching.
Next week I interview David Brackett, founder of Linguava, a language interpretation/ translation company that is committed to helping improve patient experience and health outcomes for limited English proficient and deaf and hard of hearing individuals.
I alternate the Companies That Care podcast with my original podcast, Finding Fertile Ground, which shares personal stories of grit and resilience. On both my podcasts I strive to highlight voices from historically excluded populations, people who don't always get a platform. Find out more on my website and social media.
The Companies That Care podcast is brought to you by Fertile Ground Communications.
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