Art advocate, collector, community activist

2004 Living Legacy Awards Honoree

Women’s International Center celebrates the life and legacy of a talented humanitarian.

When Iris Lynn Strauss was a music major at what was then San Diego State College, she never thought her involvement with opera and love of music would take her off the stage and into the boardroom. Her Hoover High School sweetheart, Matthew Strauss, was headed to service in the Marine Corps, so Iris, one semester short of graduation, became a young bride and headed to Washington, D.C.

Three children and seven grandchildren later, her resume not only includes a long list of school, community, United Jewish Federation and Temple activities but also high-profile city appointments. As a seven-year Commissioner of Arts and Culture for the City of San Diego, she now chairs both the Public Art Committee and the Public Art Master Plan Committee, helping to shape the future of public art in the region. Coming full circle with her first love, the lyric soprano also serves as president of the San Diego Opera’s Board of Directors. In her 14-year tenure with San Diego Opera she has worked to increase the patron base and secure many major gifts. Iris is also very proud of her role as founder and president of the Dow Divas, a women’s investment group. In addition, Iris and Matt’s love of art has gradually led them to building one of the finest collections of contemporary art in the nation, which they frequently share by opening their home to arts and charity fundraisers.

All of this, however, takes a back seat to her family. “As important as my community activities are to me, my greatest pride and joy remains spending time with my mother, my children and grandchildren,” says Iris. To that end, she has made sure that her “next generation” will carry on her work and her love of the arts, by “dragging them to everything cultural that I can,” said Iris.

And, yes, she still sings–when asked.

Presenter Ian Campbell, General Manager of San Diego Opera, certainly knows the talents and contributions of Iris Lynn Strauss.

Women’s International Center honors Iris Lynn Strauss with the 2004 Living Legacy Award.

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