You could say The Ebell has been a feature of Stacy Brightman’s entire life. An Angeleno born and bred, she grew up, with her mother and her sister, living on Rampart and Wilshire, just ten minutes’ drive from our campus (although the family had no car).
Stacy credits her late mother with her own strong views about women and education. Although her mother had never had the financial means to graduate, her mantra said it all: If you can give a young person a door to education and the arts, that will open them up to every opportunity they will need to succeed. “I owe my mother so much,” admits Stacy. “Doors were closed to her and she was not given those opportunities, but she was going to make sure I had them!”
Stacy graduated Magna Cum Laude from Pomona College with a degree in Theatre and Religious Studies, and subsequently with a Ph.D in Dramatic Art and Theatre Research from University of California, Davis.
She has held posts connected with the arts at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising (FIDM); Thornton School of Music, USC; Shakespeare Festival of LA; and Theater LA, and comes to us directly from LA Opera, where she was Vice President of LA Connects, dedicated to the Opera’s activities in Community, Engagement and Learning. She got to know The Ebell better when collaborating with then Program Director Laurie Schechter on various LA Opera productions at The Ebell, including The Body Female, staged in January 2020, one of the last events before COVID 19 caused us to close our doors.
Stacy joined The Ebell as a member in May 2019 and attended as many lunches as her busy schedule allowed. “I’d always been aware of The Ebell and found it so beautiful,” she says. She has major plans for The Ebell, encompassing not only the Club but also Filming, Special Events and the Theatre. In particular, she has a vision of The Ebell at the heart of women’s Los Angeles. “I don’t want people just driving by. I want all of LA to know about The Ebell and know what a treasure it is, so that it’s a place for all Angelenos – a place where art and education come together.
“I’m fascinated by the power of intersections,” she continues, and is committed to finding common ground across women’s and educational establishments throughout LA. “My vision is to partner with scholars, artists and groups across the city. We are greater than the sum of our parts and, when you appreciate that, you can accomplish so much more. For example, [having been a Girl Scouts leader for ten years, when her daughter was young], do we have a Girl Scout’s troupe associated with The Ebell? I’d love to see us involved with the National Charity League. And higher education… we have a remarkable network of women coming to study here in LA: how can we build partnership traditions with them? Any group that is dedicated to uplifting girls and women, I want The Ebell to work with. When women band together there’s nothing we can’t do.”
Stacy is also keen to build on our prodigious archival and historic collections. “I can see us all working together to identify a Scholar-in-Residence to host contemporary costume designers, or partnering with FIDM,” where she taught Theatrical History with an emphasis on Costume Design. She also has grand plans for expanding the activities of the Theatre.
Whatever her ideas and vision, it is clear that Stacy makes things happen. She has won a stream of awards, including the Women’s Opera Network Award; is a Peter Hemmings Award Honoree, honored by the Opera League of LA for leadership and impact in the field of opera, to name but two. And she was honored by former LA County Supervisor Don Knabe for services to students and community by the creation of the eponymous Brightman Student Artist Scholarship.
Fittingly for her new post at The Ebell, Stacy is currently working on a Masters Degree at Arizona State University, in Non-Profit Leadership and Management. In her spare time, not surprisingly, she loves the performing arts – she is a self-confessed “theatre nerd” – and is a keen book club member.
“I’m so blessed,” says Stacy, speaking of her 31-year marriage to John Hocchauser. “It means ‘skyscraper’, which is just as well as he’s 6′ 8″! I’m the short one in the family, at 5′ 11″.” The couple have two adult children: Christian, 24, is a law student at Washington University St Louis Law School; and Gwyneth, 22, who recently graduated from University of Chicago, works as a Litigation Analyst. They also have “two huge dogs”: Declan, a giant English Bull Mastiff and Dusty, a Great Dane.
We welcome Stacy to The Ebell and wish her a long, happy and productive tenure as Executive Director!