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Capitol Communicator is running a series featuring in-depth profiles of communicators in the mid-Atlantic.  In this “Up Close and Personal” profile, we feature Derrick Chamlee, Creative Director, Creative Lab, PBS. Photography for Capitol Communicator’s profile series is by Cade Martin. Wardrobe styling by Pascale Lemaire for THE Artist Agency; and hair and makeup was by Patti D Nelson and Janice Kinigopoulos for THE Artist Agency.

Derrick, please provide us a short bio.

After receiving a bachelor of fine arts degree from James Madison University, I worked as a pastry chef, operated a silkscreen press, and prepped film for offset print runs. Then I spied a help-wanted ad that seemed too good to be true, and twenty-eight years ago I applied for a job at PBS as a paste-up artist. I’ve been at PBS ever since. Broadcasting and advertising are interesting and constantly evolving industries; I wouldn’t trade the experience for anything else.

Are you involved in any other organizations?

Promax, In-house Agency Forum, USA Triathlon (swim, bike, run!) and Little Run Citizens Association.

What is the things you are most proud of?

Personally, my family is quite important to me.

Professionally, every day I work with so many creative people: writers, designers, editors, producers, and strategists, and, of course, photographers, to name a few. Working with these brilliant people, exchanging ideas and achieving our goals—all of it is very gratifying.

Furthermore, I am proud to work for PBS, an organization dedicated to entertaining and serving a diverse audience with a wide range of perspectives.

Who were your personal role models?

My parents, who work hard, help others, and put education and experiences before things.

My aunt, Pamela Hahn, an artist who works in various media.

Wolfgang Buchler, a hardworking and talented baker who taught me the value of being on time, treating others with respect, and reading all the instructions before starting a difficult task.

Outward Bound leaders, who showed the sixteen-year-old me that I could do almost anything.

Did your role models offer professional advice that helped you in your career?

About five or six years into my career at PBS, Brenda Nesbitt became my boss and offered me the chance to try my hand at animation. She gave me all the necessary support for a major change in developing my talents. Her faith in me changed the trajectory of my career.

What professional advice do you have for others?

You’ve heard it before, but it’s true: Find something you are passionate about and do it—whether it’s writing, balancing accounts, taking photos, juggling, or whatever it is, do it. I’ve seen so many people starting out in their careers, and the successful ones take it one step at a time. They have an idea of what they want to do in the future, make a plan and keep working at it. They go on to interesting and fulfilling careers.

What advice do you have on what’s appropriate attire at PBS?

Wow. I’m the last person to offer advice on dressing for work. PBS is a very forward-thinking organization and encourages creativity, which is reflected in how my coworkers dress. I personally think people should wear what makes them comfortable and efficient at work. Whether it’s shorts in the dead of winter or a suit every day, wear what allows you to be you.

Where do you buy most of the clothes you wear at PBS?

Well, judging from my photo, I’d say shoppbs.org. I admit I’m not a big shopper. I like comfortable clothes, preferring Levis and a button-down, collared shirt. After looking at the labels in my shirts, the majority of them come from Lands End.

Is there anything else you would like us to know about you?

I enjoy the outdoors and competing in triathlons. I strongly believe in the power of community and what can be accomplished when working together toward a common goal.

Finally, a good sense of humor also goes a long way!

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