Karen Brooks | Founder

Karen has spent the last thirty years as an active freelance bassoonist, contrabassoonist and teacher. Currently, Karen is a member of the Duluth-Superior Symphony and is on the faculties of the St. Paul Conservatory of Music and the Mt. Olivet School of Music. Karen has also performed on numerous occasions with the Minnesota Orchestra, the St. Paul Chamber Orchestra, Minnesota Opera and the Florida Orchestra, among others. She is most at home in the opera orchestra pit where she has performed with Sarasota Opera, Florida Grand Opera, Utah Festival Opera and Ash Lawn Opera. She has performed chamber music with Music St. Croix in Stillwater, MN and with Alpha Omega Ensemble in New York City. As a bassoon teacher, she has given master classes at Gustavus Adolphus College and at Edina High School.

Karen took a hiatus from the rigors of musical life to attend law school. Her article on stalking laws was published by the Hamline Journal of Law and Public Policy and won Minnesota Women Lawyers 1993 Equal Justice Award. She clerked in the Hennepin County Attorney’s Office and for a Washington County Judge before entering private practice.

As a member of the Ash Lawn Opera Company, Karen gained first-hand knowledge of the workings of a small opera company. She learned about the audition process from singers and about other aspects of a summer opera festival such as scheduling, staging and weather emergencies from her four years in the company. She also learned about other approaches to opera operations during her participation in three other larger opera companies.



Kelly Turpin has been a part of Mill City Summer Opera since 2014 both as a performer and teaching artist before being hired as Company Manager. She discovered her love for opera early on, and pursued a career as a singer before finding a passion in arts administration. She has received performance degrees from Ithaca College (BM) and Arizona State University (MM). She continues to perform regularly with Minnesota Opera, Lyric Opera of the North, in recital, as well as with other local companies around the state. Kelly and her partner, Bariton Justin Anthony Spenner, formed the duo group From Justin to Kelly, and perform concerts of art song, jazz, and golden age music theater together across Minnesota. She is an advocate of opera as a social movement, and strives to produce work that is accessible, inclusive, and challenging, in ways that engage and educate communities. 


Brendan Bujold | Development Director

Brendan has been with Mill City Summer Opera for the past three years.  He has a background of performing operas while attending Longy Music Conservatory in Cambridge, MA.  He has a double major in German and Business Administration with a minor in vocal performance from Concordia College in Moorhead, MN.  Throughout his twenties Brendan worked as an actor in musical theater, after moving back from New York City he and his husband have made a home in Minneapolis.  Brendan's passion for the performing arts lives on while taking on an administrative role through fundraising, event coordination, and corporate relations management.  He is proud of the work and values of the Mill City Summer Opera staff to produce gorgeous opera productions in innovative spaces.  Someday, when he travels less, he hopes to have a golden retriever, the best dog ever.  



Karen Brooks



Genna Carlson

Account Director, Catapult Marketing


Ellen Doll

 Community Volunteer


Kingston Fletcher

Retired Executive, Proctor & Gamble


Heather Johnson

Mezzo Soprano, Metropolitan Opera


Patrick Kennedy

Managing Director, Accenture Interactive

 Wynne Reece

 Partner, Reece Law L.L.C.


 Rachael Scherer

 Vice President of Global Strategy, Cardiac Rhythm & Heart Failure, Medtronic Inc.


 Lee Vaughan

Community Volunteer

Merete Wells

Digital Media Director, Target



Kelly Turpin

Company Director


Brendan Bujold

Development Director


C. Ryan Shipley

Education Program Director


Lea Johnson

Fundraiser & Organizational Growth Strategist

Cleary Consulting