(Los Angeles) January 14, 2021 – In a time when its theater remains closed, LA Opera continues to look forward, finding new ways for a world-class opera company to connect with its audiences. To that end, three new directors — Janet J. Ciriello, William Chase Hodge-Brokenburr and Shirley Starke-Wallace — were recently elected to LA Opera's board.

"I am absolutely thrilled to welcome to our board three prominent community members who share my passion for opera as well as my pride in our world-class opera company," said Marc Stern, chairman of LA Opera's board of directors. "In an era when so many arts organizations are struggling to survive, I'm truly grateful that we've been able to add a total of five terrific new board members since the beginning of the pandemic. Our new directors have longstanding close ties to the company, and they are exceptionally well equipped to help us navigate these unprecedented times."


Dr. Janet J. Ciriello is a clinical psychologist (Ed.D) and author. She attended Sarah Lawrence College, class of 1959. She was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to France, where she met Nicholas Ciriello, one of LA Opera's founding board members. Together, they established the Janet and Nicholas Ciriello Endowed Scholarship Fund to help a student with financial need gain access to a Sarah Lawrence education.

Dr. Ciriello, who has a twin sister, is the co-author of Identity and Intimacy in Twins. She is an advisory board member of The Opera Buffs, Inc., which provides grants and performance opportunities to emerging vocal artists in Southern California. She also serves on the board of The Reiss Davis Graduate School. She previously served on the board of the Opera League of Los Angeles and was a director at Los Angeles Child Development Center, a nonprofit organization that provides accessible and affordable mental health services to children in need.

Dr. Ciriello has been an LA Opera subscriber since the company's inaugural season.


William Chase Hodge-Brokenburr is a Los Angeles native. He attended and graduated from Bowdoin College where he obtained a BA in Economics and French with a minor in African Studies in 2016. After graduation, he relocated to Shanghai, China, to work for Yooya, an online video startup. Now back in Los Angeles, Mr. Hodge-Brokenburr works in the media finance department at leading entertainment and sports agency Creative Artists Agency (CAA). Outside of CAA, he serves on the board of the Junior Hollywood Radio and Television Society, an organization which provides learning and mentorship opportunities to young professionals within the entertainment industry.

Mr. Hodge-Brokenburr was introduced to opera at a young age and has regularly attended LA Opera productions since the age of seven. During the summer of his freshman year, he interned in the LA Opera’s finance department, where he gained a first-hand understanding of production finance and fundraising. A lifetime proponent of opera, Mr. Hodge-Brokenburr has recently partnered with LA Opera to increase audience engagement with both underrepresented minorities and young professionals.


Shirley Earlise Starke-Wallace was born in Goldsboro, North Carolina, and grew up in Fredericksburg, Virginia. She attended and graduated as Second Honoree from the Norfolk Division of Virginia State College before moving to California. She subsequently graduated from California State University - Los Angeles with a major in History and Social Studies and later received her M.A.

Ms. Starke-Wallace's career of 42 years with Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) included serving as teacher, master training teacher, health coordinator, counselor, head counselor, articulation coordinator for the Counseling and Student Integration Options District Office, and principal. From 1984 to 1994, she was principal for the opening of King/Drew Medical Magnet High School. In 1992, that school was rated as one of "the 16 most innovative vocational high schools in the United States." King/Drew's school library was named after Ms. Starke-Wallace in 2015. As a result of her active participation in numerous artistic, social and civic organizations, she received seven awards for her leadership and exemplary service in the community between 1994 and 2018.

Ms. Starke-Wallace has been an LA Opera subscriber since 1995. She is a member of the company's Connects committee and was a special guest in the 2020 Connects summer opera camp, where she discussed her role in desegregating LAUSD.


Los Angeles is a city of enormous diversity and creativity, and LA Opera is dedicated to reflecting that vibrancy by redefining what opera can be with thrilling performances, thought-provoking productions and innovative programming. The communal and curative power of opera is needed now more than ever before, given the extraordinary challenges of the time. As LA Opera awaits its cue to return to the stage with world-class productions in theaters, the company is offering a multitude of content including live recitals, opera broadcasts and learning opportunities via its LA Opera On Now digital offerings, which have accumulated nearly 795,000 views since its launch on March 17, 2020. The company is grateful to its supporters for helping to ensure that it has the resources needed to get through this unprecedented period through the LA Opera Relief Fund. Those wanting to support LA Opera can visit LAOpera.org/donate.


Vanessa Flores Waite
Director of Communications 

LA Opera is a non-profit organization dedicated to serving the greater Los Angeles community.