Rachel Fine named executive director of Yale Schwarzman Center

Rachel Fine
Rachel Fine

Rachel Fine, the executive director and CEO of the Los Angeles-based Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts (The Wallis), has been named executive director at Yale Schwarzman Center (YSC), Yale University’s first-ever center for student life and the arts.

The Yale Schwarzman Center, which opened its doors in September 2021, is dedicated to cultural programming and student life at the center of the university. Its artistic, student life, and dining opportunities have played a major role in reestablishing a sense of community for students, faculty, and guests returning to campus.

Fine will begin her new role at Yale in October.

She joined The Wallis in its first 18 months of operation, following a 19-year capital campaign and building project to convert the historic Beverly Hills Post Office into a vibrant cultural hub and performing arts campus for Southern California. Together with the board of directors and administrative team, she established The Wallis, which serves Los Angeles County and Southern California, as a major player and leading cultural organization in Los Angeles' burgeoning arts scene; demonstrated dedication to diversity, equity, inclusion and access; built dynamic artistic partnerships and projects between The Wallis and Los Angeles' cultural organizations; launched and implemented a $55 million campaign, which more than doubled the organization's endowment and established a healthy cash reserve in the campaign's first year; and steered and managed The Wallis successfully through the pandemic.

Fine, who is also a concert pianist, attended the Music Academy of the West and Eastman School of Music. She is a graduate of the University of California, Irvine, from which she graduated Phi Beta Kappa and recently received the Distinguished Alumna Award from UCI’s Claire Trevor School of the Arts. Other educational pursuits led her to Yale, where she studied musicology, and The Kennedy Center in Washington, D.C., where she was an arts management fellow.

Rachel Fine’s creative vision for the role of the arts in the community makes her the ideal executive director for YSC,” said Pericles Lewis, dean of Yale College, who chairs the YSC Program Committee. “We are delighted to welcome her back to Yale.”

Prior to her tenure at The Wallis, Fine was executive director of the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra (2010-2015) and Los Angeles Children’s Chorus (2007-2010). In 2009, she founded and built the Los Angeles Children's Chorus' Young Men's Ensemble, a rare chorus for boys with changing voices, and which has toured the United States, Canada, Cuba, Vatican City, and Mexico City.

With the Los Angeles Chamber Orchestra, Fine introduced and produced “Play Me, I'm Yours,” a citywide piano installation and community art project. She also conceived and produced Strad Fest, a weeklong international festival of Stradivarius violins. Additionally, Fine has held leadership positions at the DeVos Institute of Arts Management, Aspen Music Festival, Santa Fe Opera, and The Juilliard School, among others.

I am delighted to welcome Rachel Fine to Yale at this exciting moment for the Schwarzman Center,” said Yale President Peter Salovey. “Rachel's exceptional leadership record places her at the fore of her field. Her experiences and boundless enthusiasm for the arts will enrich this hub for student and campus life. As Rachel prepares for her new role, I extend my thanks to Laura Paul, interim executive director, and Garth Ross, founding executive director, for their inspired stewardship of the center, and to members of the search advisory committee for contributing to this superb selection.”

Located in the heart of the Yale campus, the Yale Schwarzman Center has become a world-class center for student life and the arts. It was made possible through a $150 million gift from Yale alumnus and former Kennedy Center Chairman Stephen A. Schwarzman ’69, which enabled a major renovation of the historic Commons and Memorial Hall.

Rachel is a proven leader who knows how to bring to life a performing arts and cultural center for the benefit of the community,” Schwarzman said. “Her talents and experience will help establish YSC as a vital crossroads for Yale students to engage with each other and the wider world.”

Said Fine: “The prospect of helping set the early agenda for Yale Schwarzman Center while also establishing it as a leading performing arts presenting organization is hugely exciting. The fact that YSC also serves as a unifying artistic resource for the Yale community is highly attractive. As the center’s new executive director, I look forward to combining my experience in leading multifaceted professional arts organizations with my experience in nurturing, educating and improving the lives of students via the performing arts.”

Michael A. Nemeroff, chairman of the board of The Wallis, lauded Fine’s devotion and contributions to The Wallis. “She is passionate about the arts, works hard to build team and talent and has led The Wallis to great heights,” he said. “Yale Schwarzman Center is getting a world-class leader in the performing arts space.”

Fine is married to Christopher Hawthorne, chief design officer for the City of Los Angeles and former architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times. Hawthorne will be teaching courses in journalism, criticism, and urban design in Yale College and the Yale School of Architecture. Fine and Hawthorne have two daughters.

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Media Contact

Karen N. Peart: karen.peart@yale.edu, 203-980-2222