As the Fountain Theatre continues to add public-spirited individuals to its nonprofit arts organization, it welcomes Rabbi Anne Brener to its board of directors. She is a longtime friend and supporter of the Fountain who has enjoyed many plays and special events over the years. She also currently serves on the board of ALEPH: The Alliance for Jewish Renewal.
“The Fountain Theatre begins 2021 with a large, active, dedicated board of directors who are dedicated to guiding the organization to not only survive these difficult times, but rise above them,” says Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “Rabbi Anne Brener offers wisdom, intelligence and a compassionate heart as we trek forward. Her years of experience in community building and serving others is inspirational.”
Rabbi Anne Brener, Professor of Ritual and Spiritual Development at the Academy for Jewish Religion, California, is the author of Mourning & Mitzvah: Walking the Mourners’ Path, now in its third edition. She is a Psychotherapist, Spiritual Director and Meditation Teacher, whose writing appears in many anthologies and periodicals. Anne co-founded one of California’s first Domestic Violence shelters and the Morei Derekh Jewish Spiritual Direction Training Program. She worked as a Hospice Chaplain and currently serves on the board of ALEPH: The Alliance for Jewish Renewal and Los Angeles’ Fountain Theatre. Her work has been dedicated to the study of ancient Jewish rituals and practices to harvest an understanding of the universal healing wisdom that is embedded within them.
The Fountain Theatre is pleased to announce that actor, director and producer Theo Perkins has joined the board of directors. Perkins is known to Fountain audiences for his dazzling performances in the Los Angeles premieres of The Brothers Size and In the Red and Brown Water.
“Theo is a beloved member of our Fountain Family,” said Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “He brings to our board a shared belief that theatre can serve as a vehicle for social change and an educational tool for young people.”
Theo Perkinsis the Founder and Artistic Director of the Elizabeth Youth Theater Ensemble (EYTE), a not for profit social justice arts organization whose mission is centered upon strengthening the voices of young artists within communities. EYTE’s major initiative is Walking the Beat: a devised theater program for youth of the Global Majority and police officers both in Los Angeles and New Jersey. For his work, Theo was honored by the Union County Urban League Young Professionals of New Jersey, recently featured in Oxygen Network’s 2020Unsung Heroes, and is a 2020 AEA Paul Robeson Award nominee.
As an actor, his television credits include guest star appearances on Fox, TNT, and CBS. On stage, he has performed on Broadway and regionally at NJPAC, Kirk Douglas Theatre, International City Theatre, Boston Court Theater and the Fountain Theatre.
Theo is a graduate of Morehouse College, UCLA’s MFA Acting program and the Executive Arts Leadership Program at the University of Southern California. He currently works as an Arts Coordinator for the Center for the Art of Performance at UCLA.
The Fountain Theatre is proud to announce that esteemed teacher, researcher, and consultant Margaret E. Phillips, PhD, has joined its Board of Directors. Her special interests are in cultural influences on organization behavior, management development in multicultural contexts, and organization diagnosis and design for sustainability.
“During my long career as an international business professor, a cross-cultural management researcher, and an organization design consultant, I have spent much of my time exploring challenging topics that incite conversation and ignite social change,” Phillips explains. “Much like the Fountain does every day using the medium of theatre. That is likely why the invitation to join the Fountain’s Board of Directors was so intriguing to me, especially coming at the time of my retirement from academia.”
Her work has been published in books and academic journals and included in compendiums of key contributions to the fields of cross-cultural management and international human resources management. Her book, Crossing Cultures: Insights from Master Teachers is a resource for teachers and trainers with proven methods for developing coping strategies and problem-solving skills in the cross-cultural arena. She co-authored the comprehensive chapter on “Conceptualizing Culture” for the Handbook for International Management Research and “Contextual Influences on Culture Research: Shifting Assumptions for New Workplace Realities” in the International Journal of Cross Cultural Management.
She has served on the governing boards of several organizations, for-profit and not-for-profit, with culturally diverse stakeholders.
“I have been a committed supporter of the Los Angeles theatre community for over 50 years,” she states. “Yet have only recently become a fan of the Fountain after experiencing the performance of Citizen: An American Lyric at Center Theatre Group’s first Block Party, and engaged with the theater after experiencing the powerful Walking the Beat this past summer. Subsequent performances and interactions with the Fountain family have allowed me to see that the values conveyed from the stage are lived in this company. This, and of course the charm and passion of the board colleagues themselves, have enticed me to join with you all as the Fountain moves toward its 30th year and beyond. I am proud and delighted to be along on this journey.”
Maggi Phillips enjoys opening night of Between Riverside and Crazy, 2019.
Dr. Phillips has been a member of the Western Academy of Management, the Academy of Management, the Academy of International Business, the International Organization Network, and the European Group for Organization Studies. She has conducted teaching exchanges and faculty workshops for several of these organizations in multiple international settings, and has made presentations and convened symposia for all, including Designing Culturally Sustainable Organizations for the 2012 EGOS meeting in Helsinki.
Dr. Phillips received her PhD in Management from the Anderson School at UCLA, an MS in Administration from the Merage School at UC Irvine, and a BA in Psychology from UCLA’s College of Letters and Science.
Dr. Phillips’ husband, Professor Mario Gerla, PhD, a pioneer in computer networks who had supervised more than 100 Ph.D. graduates during his long career, passed away in February after a prolonged battle with pancreatic cancer. Dr. Phillips has two daughters, Marisa and Cristina.
Fountain Board member Miles Benickes and Zoey Rosenzweig at Mueller Read-A-Thon.
by Stephen Sachs
First, she said no. She would not do it. When her grandfather asked her again in the Fountain Theatre lobby, she awkwardly took a step back in retreat, shy and embarrassed.
“No,” she said, in a blushing 14-year old half-grin.
She would not join her grandfather, Miles Benickes, on stage to read a ten-minute section of the Mueller Report in front of a gathered audience of LA professionals and unseen viewers watching online via a simultaneous live stream on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. No way.
Then Zoey Rosenzweig changed her mind. I was thrilled and surprised when she strode out onto our Fountain stage with Miles and diligently read through the Mueller legalese with her grandfather. She may not have understood much of the gobbledygook she was reading. Who did? That didn’t matter. Something vital for the future of our nation was happening. Zoey Rosenzweig was getting involved.
Thursday’s 15-hour Mueller Report Read-A-Thon at the Fountain Theatre held dozens of unforgettable moments like this for me. The marathon event was emotionally overwhelming. The Fountain hummed with ecstatic energy all day and all night. A parade of politicians, actors, writers, and community leaders read from the podium as if declaring from a public square, each person high-charged by their call to duty.
I thought of the day as an Open House. The Fountain Theatre opening its doors – all day and all night — to democracy. At an Open House, all visitors are welcome. At an Open House, anyone who wishes may visit. An Open House is a gathering that’s open to anyone who wants to come by, any time.
An atmosphere of community was everywhere. In the lobby, in the audience, out front on the sidewalk, in our upstairs café. Theatre provides community. Los Angeles is one of the most diverse cities in this country, and our LA theatre network is large and widespread. But on Thursday our Mueller Report Read-A-Thon proved that, like the motto of our nation, Los Angeles and the LA Theatre Community is “out of many, one.”
For our nation to survive, engaging young people in the arts and politics of this country is essential. I studied closely as our twenty-two-year-old Fountain intern, Melina Young, sat in the front row watching respected LA theatre critic Sylvie Drake read from our stage. A proud grin spreading across Melina’s face. Sylvie Drake is Melina’s grandmother. Now Melina seeks a career in the theatre. Her grandmother, by example, reminding her how the arts and social action can intersect.
An endless stream of memorable instants that day/night flood through me now, two days later. Images of celebrities, LA Theatre icons, government officials. But it was Zoey Rosenzweig, perhaps, who remains the most indelible. A fourteen-year-old girl reading this urgent government document from the podium while her grandfather somberly leans over her shoulder like a rabbi guiding her through the Torah.
Moments like this are the reason we hosted the reading of the Mueller Report in the first place. It gives me hope. We need Zoey Rosenzweig and Melina Young and millions more like them.
Our nation, and our art form, depend on them.
Stephen Sachs is the Co-Founder and Co-Artistic Director of the Fountain Theatre.
The Fountain Theatre is pleased to welcome attorney Jason Zelin to the Board of Directors. Mr. Zelin is a special counsel at the Sheppard Mullin law firm in the Entertainment, Technology and Advertising Practice Group in Century City.
Joining the board of the Fountain Theatre is a culmination of this lifelong love of theatre and he “is thrilled to be part of the most vibrant and thought-provoking theatre experience in Los Angeles.”
Mr. Zelin has extensive experience in many facets of the entertainment industry, from both the legal/business and the creative perspectives. In addition to working at private law firms, Mr. Zelin has worked inside the entertainment industry in several capacities, including:
Director of Business and Legal Affairs at Warner Bros. Television
Vice President of Film Acquisition at Vestron Video
Vice President of Business and Legal Affairs at The Feldman/Meeker Company
Vice President of Acquisitions of Lorimar Pictures
Vice President of the Completion Bond Co.
Executive Vice President of Business Affairs at Village Roadshow Pictures
Executive Vice President of Miramax Films
President and Chief Operating Officer for Miracle Entertainment
Producer for the film “Killing Pablo”
In these roles, Mr. Zelin negotiated talent deals, network licensing agreements, literary acquisitions as well as scripted and unscripted television development and production. Working outside film studios, he bonded more than $100 million in budgeted new films, and served as a primary liaison with studios. When working as part of film studios, Mr. Zelin also gained experience supervising all legal and business aspects of multi-national productions, and developed film projects with such notables as Ridley Scott, Will Smith, and Janet Yang. As a result of his extensive experience, Mr. Zelin is able to provide valuable insight into many aspects of the entertainment industry garnered from his many decades “in the trenches.”
“In addition to a great deal of knowledge and experience in the entertainment industry, Jason brings to the Board his passion and enthusiasm for the theatre,” says Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “We look forward to his guidance as we move onward into the next important phase of growth for the organization.”
Victoria Ndefo and Dr. Ejike Ndefo, opening night of ‘The Chosen’.
With great sadness, the Fountain Theatre mourns the loss of our dear friend and board member Dr. Ejike Ndefo, who passed away Tuesday, May 29th at USC Norris Comprehensive Cancer Center in Los Angeles. He was 79 years old.
Married to his beloved wife Victoria for 26 years, the couple shared five children, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Ejike and Victoria have been part of The Fountain Family for more than fifteen years.
“Ejike was a dear and gentle man who radiated sweetness,” reflects Fountain Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “He was one of those lovely beings who glowed with an aura of warmth and graciousness. We will miss him dearly.”
Ejike Ndefo was born in Nigeria in 1939. He graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a Ph.D in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. While he was at the University of California, Berkeley, Ejike played a major role in the travelling theatre group raising money in support of the humanitarian effort in the Nigerian-Biafran war. He worked in several Aerospace companies including Northrop Corporation, TRW, and The Aerospace Corporation on such programs as Space Defense Initiative, Space Shuttle, and design of large rockets for launch of spacecraft and satellites. He retired as the Director of Fluid Mechanics Department from The Aerospace Corporation in August 2015 after forty one years. For the past three years, Ejike has served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Normandie Church of Christ, Los Angeles. He joined the Fountain Theatre Board of Directors in 2017.
Always glowing with a positive outlook, Ejike recently shared this reminder: “Life is meant to be lived to its fullest. You can’t allow things to take over your ability to rejoice with the life God has given you to live.”
In honor of his memory, a plaque will placed on an audience seat in the Fountain Theatre, front row center, where Ejike sat next to Victoria for so many years.
The Fountain Theatre continues to expand and broaden its Board of Directors with an elite team of highly-regarded and successful business, arts, legal and financial professionals. The Fountain is honored to welcome Carrie Chassin to the Board.
“I am thrilled to be joining the dedicated members of the Fountain board in advancing the goals of this sparkling gem of Los Angeles, ” says Ms. Chassin. “The fearless productions have often reminded me of the role of drama in ancient Athens : inspiring, educating , entertaining, stimulating, challenging and uplifting. The clarity and talent on display at the Fountain stage have consistently provided me with the most satisfying theatre experience in our city.”
Carrie has spent her professional life engaged in controversial issues and crisis communications on behalf of Fortune 100 companies, governments, non-governmental organizations, environmental groups, industry associations, and Indian tribes. She developed and executed strategies responding to complex legal, legislative, regulatory, public opinion and media challenges. Many of these assignments involved advising CEOs, establishing and mobilizing grassroots organizations, media training, multiple forms of communication and complex negotiations. Her issues included major project siting, product liability, air quality, utility deregulation, labor disputes, water resources and preservation of wild lands and architecturally significant buildings.
“Carrie brings a high level of clear organizational thinking to our Board of Directors,” states Co-Artistic Director Stephen. “She has dedicated her career to passionately defending the rights of people and groups fighting for the public good. She has strongly advocated for issues that make the world a better place.”
Sachs jokes, “Besides, every non-profit theatre organization should have an expert on crisis management on its Board of Directors.”
Carrie retired 6 years ago from her position as Executive Vice President at Winner & Associates, an international issue management firm and Winner & Mandabach Campaigns, a national, full-service ballot measure campaign firm where she managed all aspects of ballot measure and issue campaigns, including strategic planning, public opinion research, advertising, direct mail, digital/social media, phone banks, earned media, and grassroots/outreach activities.
Her successful campaigns in California included park and water bonds, eminent domain, taxes for rapid transit, and the legalization of Indian gaming. She was honored by 88 California tribes as a Great Warrior Woman during that campaign. She also represented the Choctaw Nation in preserving their water rights and in negotiations with the Smithsonian for what is now the annual Choctaw Days festival at the National Museum of the American Indian. Her theater work involved advising the Nederlander organization on their Greek Theatre contract with the City of Los Angeles.
She spent almost a decade at Exxon directing corporate philanthropy to the arts, education and community programs in the Western region. She served as media spokesperson, lobbyist, strategist and on the negotiating team that obtained federal, state and local permits for a $3 billion onshore and offshore oil and gas project in Santa Barbara County. She was also involved in legislative and regulatory issues related to all areas of Exxon’s interests in exploration, production, shipping, pipelines, refining and marketing.
Prior to working in the private sector, she served as a deputy to Los Angeles City Councilman Marvin Braude. Carrie has served on the board of directors of the Baldwin Hills Conservancy, the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank, Hillel and the Los Angeles Child Development Center. She was the first Chief Operating Officer of CALSTART, dedicated to the growth of a clean transportation.
Carrie has been married to Jochen Haber for almost 40 years. She swam into him at the Rec Center pool while a graduate student in urban and regional planning at UCLA. They still swim there together. She has one son and 3 grandchildren living in Amsterdam. She is also sculpts, paints, gardens and travels as much as possible.
The Fountain Theatre is delighted to welcome attorney Lois R. Fishman to its Board of Directors. Lois brings her sharp intelligence, wealth of experience, and passion for theatre to our growing Fountain Board.
“The energy at the Fountain is contagious,” says Lois. “The intimate setting involves the audience in a way impossible in a large space. I was drawn to the evident humanity of the directors and cast. How did a small theater in Hollywood become a favorite home for Athol Fugard? This was worth looking into! And then I was seduced by the intelligent mix of programming, speaking to audiences about our times through the voices of established and new playwrights. From Tennessee Williams Night of the Iguana, to Tarell Alvin McCraney’s Brother/Sister plays, I love how the Fountain reflects the rich and complex composition of LA and invites us to share our stories and experiences. And then to meet the casts afterward in a cozy café setting is always such a thrill. On top of it all, I have been a fan of flamenco dance since my high school days and love that the Fountain has created a home for this art form.”
Lois is a lifelong theater goer with a collection of playbills dating back to the 1970s. A child of suburban New York, she grew up attending Broadway musicals, plays at Lincoln Center and downtown, and opera at City Center. While a college student at Yale, she studied drama history with Richard Gilman, ushered at the Yale Dramatic Association and shared subscriptions to Yale Rep and Long Wharf Theater. Favorite Yale theater experiences: the August Wilson plays directed by Lloyd Richards, the early plays of Wendy Wasserstein, anything by Athol Fugard.
Lois began her career in Washington D.C. at the National Endowment for the Arts and later worked as a writer and consultant to many arts and humanities organizations in the capital, before plunging into independent film and radio production, contributing free-lance pieces to NPR and working on the 13-part dramatic series “Faces Mirrors Masks.” She was the Executive Director of Americas Film Festival, the first DC-area festival of films from Latin America and served on the program committee for Women Make Movies and the DC Film Fest.
After moving to Los Angeles to start a new career as a lawyer in 1993, Lois completed the training program of the Arts Leadership Initiative and joined the Board of Odyssey Theater, her first introduction to the exciting small theater scene in LA. Highlights of that period include productions of The Caucasian Chalk Circle and The Rose Tattoo, among others. To lend support to an old friend, she also served for a few years on the Board of Santa Barbara Theatre where she first met Stephen Sachs.
Lois R. Fishman with Barbara Goodhill at ‘The Chosen’, Fountain Theatre
After marrying her husband Henry Fetter and moving from west LA to Hollywood in 2001, Lois eagerly sought out the small theatre scene in her new neighborhood and found Fountain Theatre through friends, including Diana Gibson who formerly ran the box office.
Lois is a Phi Beta Kappa graduate of Yale University (B.A., magna cum laude, honors with exceptional distinction in psychology) and holds a J.D. degree from Georgetown University Law Center and a Master of City Planning degree from the University of California, Berkeley where she was a Regents Fellow. Lois retired from The Walt Disney Company as Assistant General Counsel where she advised on distribution of films and TV programs via new media platforms. Lois currently has a solo law practice in mid-Wilshire area serving clients in the creative sector and non-profit organizations. She also teaches as adjunct professor at the Fowler School of Law, Chapman University, Orange, CA and has experience as a guest instructor at Loyola Law School, San Andreas University of Buenos Aires, Argentina and Mykolas Romeris University in Vilnius, Lithuania, among other institutions.
For six years she was a member of the Board of Trustees of Inner City Law Center, a legal services organization in Los Angeles, and was previously President of the Los Angeles Copyright Society, on whose board she served for eight years. Lois is active with the Yale Alumni Schools Committee, interviewing applicants for admission to Yale College, with Los Angeles Giving Circle, and with MOSTe, a mentoring and college access organization working with middle and high school girls from various LA public schools.
“Lois is not only expertly qualified to help guide the Fountain as a board member,” says Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “She is also a wonderful person. We are fortunate to have her expertise and goodwill.”
The Fountain Theatre is pleased to welcome veteran theater producer and public relations consultant Diana Buckhantz to its Board of Directors.
Diana Buckhantz recently produced the critically acclaimed new musical Songbird in New York City which is about to have a second production at Two Rivers Theatre this June before an eventual return to New York. She was part of the producing team that brought the Tony-nominated musical Leap of Faith from the Ahmanson Theatre to Broadway. Her producing credits also include Standing on Ceremony: The Gay Marriage Plays at the Minetta Lane Theatre in New York and The Last Goodbye at the Old Globe.
“I have been seeing shows at the Fountain for many years and have always been so impressed by the quality of the work,” says Buckhantz. “Excellent writing, beautifully staged productions and wonderful acting – all wrapped around and illuminating the important social and moral issues of the day. I believe that theatre should entertain but also that it should stimulate audiences to challenge their values and belief systems. The Fountain does this in engaging and thoughtful ways. I am excited to join the board to help support this important work and help the theatre to grow and expand its reach. “
Diana began her professional career producing award-winning documentaries including “Dying with Dignity,” “Hunger in the Promised Land, and “Not A Question of Courage,” all for KTLA. Her documentaries have also received two National EMMY awards, two local EMMY Awards, the Scripps Howard Award for Broadcast Journalism, the State Bar of California Public Service Award, the NAPTE National Iris Award, the National Education Award, three Angel Awards, and the Kenny Rogers World Hunger Media Award.
While a producer at ITC Productions, she received an Associate Producer credit for the feature film “Without A Clue,” starring Michael Caine and Ben Kingsley.
Currently, she also runs her family foundation which focuses on issues around runaway and homeless youth, arts education in the schools, aging, reproductive rights, and combating genocides and mass atrocities in Africa.
She proudly serves on the boards of Center Theatre Group, Los Angeles Youth Network, Jewish World Watch and Capital and Main.
Her greatest production, however, is her son Sam.
“Diana has been a fan of the Fountain for some time, ” says Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “Her professional experience as a theater producer and her dedicated service on notable non-profit boards makes her a very strong asset to our Fountain Family. We are thrilled to have her on our Board of Directors. “
Ejike and Victoria Ndefo, Stephen Sachs, Opening Night ‘Citizen: An American Lyric’
The Fountain Theatre is pleased to welcome retired Aerospace Engineer Ejike Ndefo to its Board of Directors. Ejike and his wife, Victoria, are avid theatre lovers, and have been part of The Fountain Family for more than fifteen years.
“Victoria and I have been residents of Los Feliz for more than 30 years,” says Ndefo. “We love theatre and we fell in love with The Fountain Theatre the first time we saw a play there about 15 years ago.”
What was it about the Fountain that caught their eye and captured their hearts?
“We are continually impressed by the originality and quality of the plays at the Fountain, as well as the intimate environment,” he explains. “As such, The Fountain is a great place to see the plays of great writers. We will be remiss if we do not mention the professionalism and friendliness of The Fountain staff. They have always been gracious.”
Ejike graduated from the University of California, Berkeley with a doctorate in Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. While he was at the University of California, Berkeley, Ejike played a major role in the travelling theatre group raising money in support of the humanitarian effort in the Nigerian-Biafran war. He worked in several Aerospace companies including Northrop Corporation, TRW, and The Aerospace Corporation on such programs as Space Defense Initiative, Space Shuttle, and design of large rockets for launch of spacecraft and satellites. He retired as the Director of Fluid Mechanics Department from The Aerospace Corporation in August 2015 after forty one years. For the past two years, Ejike has served as a member of the Board of Trustees of Normandie Church of Christ, Los Angeles.
“It’s deeply gratifying when a longtime Fountain supporter like Ejike chooses to assume a role of leadership by joining our Board of Directors,” says Co-Artistic Director Stephen Sachs. “We share a love of the Fountain and a commitment to creating meaningful theatre for the city of Los Angeles. Ejike joins our Board at a pivotal time as we look forward and seek to broaden and enhance our artistic service to the community. ”