There is something about Elizabeth Segerstrom that transcends wealth, art, and culture. It whispers of perspicacity, blushes of compassion, and radiates a gentle humanity that warms those around her. In a rare interview, she exudes the complexity of a woman determined to embrace life through art and on a foundation of family.
“My father was a very remarkable man. He had a big impact in my life,” Ms. Segerstrom explains. “He was a newspaper editor and my mother was a painter, so we had a lot of interesting people in our house to dialogue.”
Her family fostered an inclination to the literary arts. “As an only child I was fascinated to hear stories and write,” she explains. “Growing up in Poland wasn’t easy … I became more sensitive and aware.”
In Poland, Elizabeth nurtured her unique gifts. She earned a doctorate in psychology and speaks four languages—Polish, Russian, French, and English. Her passion for people and knowledge led her to New York City, where she still maintains a private practice. True to her roots, she co-authored a self-help book titled Lovesick: The Marilyn Syndrome. “There was something about psychology and a desire to help people,” she reflects.
In 2001, a chance New York City encounter with major art philanthropist Henry Segerstrom, one of Orange County, California’s wealthiest men, changed both of their lives forever. “Henry told me he was a lima bean farmer,” reveals Elizabeth. “I didn’t know a lot about him, but I liked him very much.”
Henry Segerstrom is a founding member and has donated millions to the renowned Orange County Performing Arts Center. The newly opened Renee and Henry Segerstrom Concert Hall represents a fusion of state-of-the-art performance venues and unparalleled artists from around the world. Guided by her passion for art and people, Elizabeth created the Elizabeth & Henry Segerstrom Select Series as a kick-off to the Philharmonic Society of Orange County’s 2008/2009 season. The concerts reflect Elizabeth’s exceptional acuity for musical superiority and style. “What I admire in Elizabeth is the magic of her creativeness, her determination to accomplish her goals and her dedication to be the best,” explains Henry Segerstrom. “These personal characteristics carry over to her love of the arts and to her commitments to the arts.” Her humanity also extends to a special summer program, which ensures that those who would not have the opportunity or means to view and learn about such art are given the ability to do so.
With a twinkle in her eye, Elizabeth beams about a new art museum to be built as part of the performing arts center—a mixture of old and new, bold and refined. Reminiscing about family and dreaming of things to come, Elizabeth Segerstrom embodies that rare blend of passion for art and for people that speaks to the humanity in each of us.