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Chene Park Manager Shahida Mausi Celebrates 15 Years at the Helm

The president and CEO of The Right Productions – Chene Park's managing entity – talks family and legacy.

Shahida Mausi is the epitome of a Detroit-bred boss woman: stylish, poised under pressure and staunchly committed to family, legacy and hustling harder. Mausi is president and CEO of The Right Productions, a 22-year-old family venture that's been the managing entity of Chene Park for the last 15. The 6,000-seat venue requires a staff of about 300, and Mausi is responsible for setting policy, establishing culture and, of course, ensuring that the 150,000 visitors that are expected this year alone get the good time they're promised. She's clear, though, that there's no "I" in Chene Park.

"It's important for me that we are a team and that we are on one accord in terms of the mission to provide great experiences for everybody that comes to Chene Park," Mausi says. "Life is fun at Chene Park." With the Detroit River as the backdrop to a stage that's been graced by the likes of Rick Ross, Aretha Franklin and Bobby Brown, how could it be anything but? In Mausi's office sits "the Maya Angelou chair," a plush armchair that Mausi purchased from the late poet and memoirist's estate. Next to it is a guest book, and tradition requires that visiting artists sit in the chair and sign the book.

Its pages have been touched by KEM, Erika Alexander and congresswoman Brenda Lawrence, to name just a few. One of the many times Erykah Badu stopped in, Mausi says she asked her to sit and sign, but before Badu did she recited and performed Phenomenal Woman around the chair, leaving everyone in the room awestruck and goose bumped. "It was an amazing night. That's the stuff that happens at Chene Park. Stuff happens at Chene Park." Also in Mausi's office, on a bookshelf, is a photo of her mother with Mayor Coleman A. Young, whom she dated from before he took office through much of his administration.

Mausi runs The Right Productions with her ex-husband and four sons, but make no mistake: She doesn't believe in nepotism. "I will not have them working less hard or doing jobs that are softer than the other people who are a part of this team. As a matter of fact, they better work harder. You better come on and do this because this is us; you have a reputation to uphold and a family legacy that's entrusted to you, so throw down." Mausi's family has produced five generations of businesswomen.

She says she couldn't do what she does for Chene Park without the support of her sons and ex. "We work hard, through good times and bad. When it's tough, like when the recession happened and the bottom fell out of the economy, family doesn't quit. Family keeps working. Family works through the difficult times, whether there's a paycheck or not," she says. "Plus" – her tone softens and her face brightens – "I get hugs from my children every day I come to work; it's delight. My grandsons are now working here." She switches back to business mode. "But they've got to work hard."

No doubt, Mausi's is a high-powered, high-stress job, and she's often being stretched in every direction, stomping out the types of fires you'd expect to ignite within such a large operation. She's able to remain cool in the heat for a couple of reasons. "First, I pray every day, many times a day," she says. The other half of it? "I think my nerves got burned out a long time ago," she half jokes. She credits the latter to raising four boys.

Nerves intact or not, there's no quit in her blood. "I have built on the legacy of my great-grandmother who came to Detroit 100 years ago and established our family here," Mausi says. "She came here with three small children by herself, and so I want to do something that's going to safeguard her legacy for the next 100 years." 

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