Gregory Nava and Linda Shaheen elected to LA Opera board of directors

Board additionally makes resolution affirming company's commitment to cultural equity and inclusion; key staff appointments announced

(Los Angeles) October 5, 2018 — Gregory Nava and Linda Shaheen were elected to the LA Opera board of directors on Tuesday. The board additionally approved a resolution that affirms its longstanding commitment to cultural equity and inclusion. LA Opera, the fourth largest opera company in the nation, also announced the addition of several new leaders to its administrative staff.

Writer-director-producer Gregory Nava has been nominated for an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, an Emmy and a Writer’s Guild Award. He became an internationally renowned filmmaker with his Academy Award-nominated film El Norte, for which he received an Oscar nomination for Best Original Screenplay as well as a Writer’s Guild of America Award nomination. El Norte was designated for special preservation by the Library of Congress. He continued directing a string of groundbreaking Latino films, directing and co-writing the multi-generational saga My Family/Mi Familia, which starred Jimmy Smits, Edward James Olmos and Esai Morales, as well as Jennifer Lopez in her first film role. He wrote and directed Selena, which earned Jennifer Lopez a Golden Globe nomination. He directed the musical biopic Why Do Fools Fall in Love starring Halle Berry and co-wrote the screenplay for the Academy Award-nominated Frida, starring Salma Hayek. He wrote, directed and produced the political thriller Bordertown starring Jennifer Lopez and Antonio Banderas. Bordertown was nominated for the Golden Bear at the Berlin Film Festival and won the “Artist for Amnesty” award from Amnesty International.

In television, he has been nominated for both the Emmy and Golden Globe as the creator and executive producer of American Family, the first dramatic Latino series in the history of broadcast television. Currently he is slated to direct Gates of Eden, a sweeping epic of the current situation on the border. He has received five Imagen awards, three Alma awards, the Hispanic Heritage Award for the Arts at the Kennedy Center in Washington DC, the National Hispanic Heritage Foundation Raul Julia Award for Excellence, the Latino Spirit Award from the State of California and Lifetime Achievement Awards from both the National Council of La Raza and the Imagen Foundation. He currently serves on the board of governors of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.

A Northern California native, Linda Shaheen earned a bachelor of arts degree in social science from the University of California, Berkeley. She then entered the fashion merchandising industry, holding management positions at Joseph Magnin, Alcott & Andrews, and I. Magnin. In 1988, she was recruited by AnnTayor to strategize, develop and implement their private label sportswear business. In 1990 she became AnnTaylor’s Executive Vice President, General Merchandise Manager for Sportswear, and was part of the corporate team which took the company public. Following her retirement in 1992, Linda and her husband established The David & Linda Shaheen Foundation. The Foundation identifies and initiates numerous educational programs involving inner city youth. In Boston, the Foundation supports a program designed by Harvard MEDScience to encourage critical thinking in the sciences in inner city high schools. In Los Angeles, the Foundation supports music programs through LA Opera and the LA Philharmonic, visual arts through Heart of Los Angeles, and reproductive health and STI prevention through the UCLA AMP Program. Additionally, the Foundation has granted over 400 college scholarships for students from South Central Los Angeles, partnering with the mentoring organization A Place Called Home. In 2016, Linda and David endowed an Alliance Charter High School in South Los Angeles that serves 600 students in a college preparatory environment.

Forty years ago, she attended her first opera, Madama Butterfly, at the Metropolitan Opera. That performance sparked a desire to understand and appreciate the wonder of opera. Working with young people though her Foundation, she has witnessed the power of music to unify diverse individuals, to speak a language without borders, and to provide a haven and means of expression for youth faced with emotional, physical and psychological challenges. She believes that music is a universal language which much be allowed to flourish, and that opera is its highest art form.

"I am thrilled to welcome Gregory and Linda to our board," said Plácido Domingo, the company's Eli and Edythe Broad General Director. "Gregory is an important leader in the film industry and Linda has been a longtime champion of music and education in Los Angeles and elsewhere. The expertise and enthusiasm of these new colleagues will make our extraordinary company even stronger."

The board of directors additionally affirmed the company's longstanding commitment to cultural diversity, equity and inclusion. It is written into the company's mission to include the diversity, pioneering spirit and artistic sensibility that is unique to Los Angeles in all aspects of the company. LA Opera believes that the inclusion of diverse voices enriches the art form by reflecting and including the many perspectives of the community. This encompasses representation in both the current landscape as well as the cultivation of a new generation of diverse arts leaders. In 2016, for example, the company created a new internship program, the LA Opera Leadership Academy, which offers local high school students with a passion for the arts the opportunity to work in all of the company's many departments as paid interns throughout their high school and college years. The multi-year commitment of the program aims to provide an extraordinarily unique opportunity that helps the students develop leadership ability as well as overall expertise in arts administration.

LA Opera has also announced several additions to the company's staff in key positions: Ani Iknoyan (Controller), Chul Park (Director, Business Systems), Vanessa Flores Waite (Director of Communications) and Joshua Winograde (Senior Director, Artist & Program Development).

"LA Opera is fortunate indeed to have all of these distinguished individuals join our team," said Marc Stern, the chairman of LA Opera's board of directors. "I am excited to collaborate closely with Gregory and Linda as we continue to shape the artistic future of LA Opera."

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