Roe Green, 2016

Roe Green, MA ’80, is well known for her philanthropy and advocacy on behalf of the arts and theatre. Born in Beachwood, Ohio, she is the only child of Ben C. and Sylvia Chappy Green, who were instrumental in her arts education. 

Her first experience with theater was narrating “Goldilocks and the Three Bears” to a group of adults when she was in kindergarten. While she enjoyed the limelight, she later found she preferred being behind the scenes directing or stage managing—although she was a competitive ballroom dancer for 12 years.

She graduated from Beachwood High School and received a bachelor’s degree in theatre and communications from the University of Colorado in 1970 before coming to Kent State to earn a master’s degree in theatre in 1980. She has extensive stage and business management experience, including at Cain Park in Cleveland Heights, with The Cleveland Opera and at the Cincinnati Playhouse in the Park. 

Green founded the Roe Green Foundation and stepped up her philanthropic efforts in 2003, shortly after her mother’s death. Much of the money she inherited came from her father, who died in 1983. He was a federal district court judge who had invested well and “led by example” says Green, who recalls many caring things he did for others, which inspired her own giving. 

Her parents had a mixed-faith marriage; her father was Jewish and her mother was Catholic, but Green says her mother liked the Jewish way of thinking, so she basically grew up in a Jewish household, according to a 2018 profile in Cleveland Magazine. While not particularly religious herself, many of Green’s actions hearken back to religious tenets about “doing unto others” and the Jewish concept of basheret or “meant to be.” 

“I have a philosophy of life,” she says. “If I have five oranges, I eat one, I save one, and I give the other three away. And everything I give away comes back tenfold.”

However, her foundation doesn’t accept applications or donate to individuals. Green supports institutions in line with her interests, many of which focus on arts education and other initiatives in Ohio, Florida and across the country. 

“I have a philosophy of life. If I have five oranges, I eat one, I save one, and I give the other three away. And everything I give away comes back tenfold.”

The Roe Green Foundation established an annual visiting director’s series for the Kent State University School of Theatre and Dance in 2003. Through the program, the school each year invites a guest professional director each year to work in residence with students and direct one of the school’s Main Stage productions.

In 2006, the foundation pledged what at the time was the largest capital gift in Kent State history, $6.5 million. This paid half the cost of an addition to the Music and Speech Building, which became the Roe Green Center for the School of Theatre and Dance in 2010. For the first time in university history, theatre and dance—which had been divided between the Music and Speech Building and the Gym Annex—were united under one roof. The project brought the footprint of the School of Theatre and Dance to more than 70,000 square feet, creating a central location on campus for the performing arts. 

In 2018, the foundation endowed the Roe Green Visiting Director Series with a gift of $2.2 million, enabling the series to continue for decades to come. 

Green, the CEO of the Roe Green Foundation, is also responsible for the Judge Ben C. Green professorship at Case Western Reserve University and the law library, which both are named in honor of her father, who was a 1930 graduate of the school. The Roe Green Foundation enabled WomenSafe, a domestic violence shelter based in Chardon, Ohio, to expand into a new facility, called the “Green House” that opened in 2007. The foundation also started the Green Arts Fund to support the Jewish Community Center of Cleveland’s arts and culture programs. 

An emerita member of the Kent State University Foundation board, Green also sits on the board of the School of Theatre and Dance, and Porthouse Theatre. She participates in the “adopt an artist” program at Porthouse. The theatre, a summer training venue that Kent State operates on the grounds of Blossom Music Center in Cuyahoga Falls, allows students to work with professionals. 

To show their gratitude, Kent State/Porthouse folks invited Green to make a cameo appearance each night at Porthouse in 2007 as the fairy godmother who appears at the end of the musical “Sweet Charity.” Afterward, they gave her the fairy-godmother gown she wore, which she displays at her Aurora home, according to a Nov. 7, 2010, profile. “It was a no-brainer,” says John Crawford-Spinelli, dean of the College of the Arts. “Roe was the perfect person to play the part. She has been a fairy godmother to all of us.”

Green is the recipient of the 2009 Ohio Arts Council’s Governor’s Arts Patron award and the President’s Medallion from Kent State. She also has received awards from the Cleveland Play House, University of Colorado and Maltz Jupiter Theatre. In 2015, she received the Kent State University College of the Arts’ inaugural Centennial Award for her service and patronage.

She travels extensively (she’s visited more than 160 countries) and has a second home in Jupiter, Florida—a community that is also the fortunate recipient of her philanthropy. 

The Roe Green Center for Theatre and Dance was dedicated to Roe Green in 2010. The center was a $13 million addition to the Music and Speech Building (now the Center for the Performing Arts). The renovated and newly constructed space houses programs in theatre, dance and music, and includes four dance studies, a black box theatre (a versatile space for experimental productions), a new entrance and lobby, a box office and a cafe. 

Daily Kent Stater, 29 August 2008 
Daily Kent Stater, 6 October 2010
Daily Kent Stater, 8 November 2010, 7 November 2010, “Roe Green, fairy godmother to the arts, builds a dream building at Kent State University
Palm BeachFlorida,  27 February 2014, “Seeing Green”, 7 December 2018, “Do-Gooder: Roe Green Follows in Her Philanthropist Father’s Footsteps” posted nov. 7 2010, updated 2019

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