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LABJ Insider: August 22

Rachel Fine Leaves Wallis Annenberg

Rachel Fine, the head of the Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts in Beverly Hills, is headed for Yale University along with her husband, Christopher Hawthorne, the former architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times. Fine, who’s been executive director and chief executive of what’s commonly called “the Wallis” for seven years, will leave in October to become executive director of the Yale Schwarzman Center at the university.


Hawthorne, the chief design officer for the city of Los Angeles, will teach courses injournalism, criticism, and urban design at Yale. Fine is credited with helping to launch a $55 million campaign last year that more than doubled the Wallis’ endowment. Said Michael Nemeroff, the Wallis’ chairman: “She built the most complete and well-rounded senior management team in the organization’s history, ensuring that operations and business will continue without disruption.” The Wallis opened nearly nine years ago in the restored 1933-built Beverly Hills Post Office. The Yale Schwarzman Center opened in September and is described as “dedicated to cultural programming and student life.”

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Two Los Angeles startups have been awarded $100,000 in cash and $100,000 in Google Cloud credits from the Google for Startups Latino Founders Fund. Options MD is a telemedicine company that helps treat severe and treatment-resistant mental illness, and Zella Life provides personal and career coaching especially aimed at diverse workforces.

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Gary L. Toebben, who provided a strong and clear voice for the private sector as the longtime chief of L.A.’s largest business association, died Aug. 16 at his home in Lawrence, Kansas. He was 74. Toebben was president and chief executive of the 1,600-member Los Angeles Area Chamber of Commerce for 12 years until he retired July 1, 2018. Toebben was known for working on a number of boards and commissions to improve L.A.’s business environment, as well as for his assertive yet polite commentary pieces that he wrote for the chamber and, on occasion, for the Business Journal.

Maria S. Salinas, the current chief of the big chamber, said, “Gary’s legacy of service and dedication to the Los Angeles region and communities is unsurpassed. Through his tireless work, Gary was a true servant leader who cared about a better tomorrow for all Angelenos.” Services will be held Sept. 8 at the church he attended in Lawrence.

Some information for this column was contributed by Staff Reporter Howard Fine. The Insider is compiled by Editor-in-Chief Charles Crumpley. Submit items to [email protected].

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