If you live in or near Orange County, chances are you’ve attended a concert or other type of performance at the Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Or perhaps you’ve taken a class there, visited during a field trip, or even just strolled the beautiful Costa Mesa campus and marveled at the breathtaking architecture of its venues.
But how much do you know about one of the names behind this epicenter of art and culture, Elizabeth Segerstrom? Read on for a brief introduction to one of Orange County’s most sophisticated, dedicated patrons of the arts.
A native of Poland, Elizabeth also lived in Russia and Switzerland before traveling to study in the United States, first at Yale University and then at New York University. After earning her doctorate in psychology, she opened a mental health clinic catering to Eastern European immigrants, co-authored a book titled “Lovesick: The Marilyn Syndrome,” and racked up entrepreneurial accomplishments.
It was when Elizabeth met and married businessman, impresario and philanthropist Henry Segerstrom, in 2000, however, that she really began to hit her own stride as a supporter of the visual and performing arts. Soon after the pair’s marriage, Elizabeth became involved with the venue named for her husband and his late wife, the Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall. She was an integral force behind what would later be renamed the Segerstrom Center for the Arts, lending her hand to its design, promotion, opening activities, anniversary celebrations, special festivals and other events, and day-to-day operations.
One notable initiative, the Elizabeth and Henry Segerstrom Select Series, was launched in 2007 and continues to this day. In collaboration with the Philharmonic Society of Orange County, the Series invites internationally acclaimed artists such as Renee Fleming, Placido Domingo, and the Czech Philharmonic, among many others, to share with the Costa Mesa area the gift of their musical talent.
Recently, Elizabeth Segerstrom has become involved with architect Frank Gehry’s foundation Turnaround Arts, which works to provide art education to underprivileged students. She is also active in an organization called American Friends of the Louvre, which raises awareness of the famous French museum’s collections and exhibitions here in the United States.
Elizabeth Segerstrom has received the Philharmonic Society of Orange County’s Golden Baton Award, was honored by the Guilds of the Orange County Performing Arts Center, and has been feted in the society pages both at home and around the globe. It’s clear from her impassioned involvement with the Segerstrom Center that she cares deeply about the performing arts, but she is equally enthusiastic about visual art, architecture, fashion, and other fields in which vision, beauty, and aesthetics collude to elevate the human condition.