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Creative leadership was already at the table when the Edison Neighborhood Association went looking

Sometimes the best person for the job is already sitting at the table.

That appears to be the case for the Edison Neighborhood Association in Kalamazoo, whose board of directors had hired a recruiting firm last year to find a dedicated, passionate, knowledgeable leader to replace its retiring executive director.

Members of the association’s board were talking about new and exciting things that could happen with the vision of a new administrator.

“I started to talk about what I really wanted to see happen,” says board member Stephen Dupuie, “and then the board members one by one kept tapping me on the shoulder and saying, ‘I think that you should do it. We really like your ideas.’”

Stephen Dupuie, artistic director of the Dormouse Theatre Troupe, has a new seat at the Edison Neighborhood Association. He has been named Executive Director.

“I said ’No’ three or four times,” Dupuie says, “because I was really worried about my capacity, my actual physical capacity, to do it.”

His fellow directors weren’t so worried, however. And Dupuie ran out of ways to say, “No.”

“He’s going to be awesome,” Tammy Taylor says of Dupuie’s potential to lead the association’s efforts to help improve the quality of life for residents of Kalamazoo’s most populous neighborhood.

Taylor retired from the executive director post on Dec. 31, 2021, after 21 years in that role.

“He’s very, very innovative,” Taylor says of Dupuie. “And he’s going to change things and make things wonderful. He really is. I couldn’t have wished for a better person to take my place.”

Dupuie, 44, is artistic director of the Dormouse Theatre Group and owner of the 1030 Portage St. theater that bears the group’s name. He and members of the sketch comedy troupe renovated the former church there in the Washington Square area of the Edison Neighborhood. The 200-seat theater now serves as a live entertainment venue featuring local performers and musicians. It opened last summer.

“I knew I had a vision for the neighborhood,” Dupuie says. “I wasn’t going anywhere. I live here. My business is here and all this stuff. And I have been volunteering for the last five-plus years. So clearly, I had some vested interests in the neighborhood.”

Dupuie, 44, is a native of Brown City, a small farming town in Michigan’s thumb area. He relocated to Kalamazoo at age 24, by way of Grand Rapids. The move occurred as he chased opportunities to work in restaurant management and the service industry.

He says he loves the diversity of the Edison Neighborhood, which lays claim to having the widest mix of people in Kalamazoo in terms of ethnicity and economics. Located just south and east of downtown Kalamazoo, it is also one of the city’s oldest and most dense neighborhoods in terms of housing and commercial uses.