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Decades of Connection

Posted on: January 21, 2021

New season, new opera, (three more) new people to help us preserve and share our beloved art form in Los Angeles and beyond. Dr. Janet J. Ciriello, William Chase Hodge-Brokenburr, and Shirley Earlise Starke-Wallace were only recently elected to the LA Opera Board of Directors, but we've had close ties with them for years or even decades. As a nonprofit that exists thanks to the generosity of our supporters, we think you should get to know those who keep us running behind the scenes.  


Left to right: New LA Opera Board Members Janet J. Ciriello, William Chase Hodge-Brokenburr, and Shirley Earlise Starke-Wallace.


Dr. Janet J. Ciriello is a clinical psychologist (Ed.D) and author who got her degree from Sarah Lawrence College in 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. 

She previously served on the board of the Opera League of Los Angeles (which is a lovely organization that provides us with dozens of equally-as-lovely volunteers for various programs and events) 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.  

Oh, and did we mention Dr. Ciriello has been a subscriber to LA Opera since the company's inaugural season 


William Chase Hodge-Brokenburr was born and raised right here in Los Angeles. Opera was always a part of his life, having been introduced to it at a young age. In fact, he has been regularly attending LA Opera productions since he was just seven years old. But his love for opera and LAO extendbeyond the stage. During the summer of his freshman year, he interned in the company’s finance department, where he gained a first-hand understanding of production finance and fundraising.  

After receiving his degree from Bowdoin College in 2016, he relocated to Shanghai, China, to work for Yooya, an online video startup. Now back in Los Angeles, he 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. Coincidentally enough, this aligns with his main goal as a member of our board, which is 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 to attend California State University - Los Angeles with a major in History and Social Studies.  

She went on to have an astounding 42-year career with Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) that 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. 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 first subscribed to LA Opera in 1995 and she has been a loyal patron ever since. She’s also a member of our Connects committee and was a special guest in the 2020 Connects summer opera camp, where she discussed her role in desegregating LAUSD. 

Join us in welcoming these three incredible community members and opera lovers to our team!