Board of Directors

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Sonja Berggen

Sonja Berggren is an ensemble theatre actor, director, and producer who lives in Long Beach, CA, and Cambridge, MA. She spent a year as a special research fellow in directing at the Yale School of Drama in 2012-13, and never really left. Sonja co-founded Panndora Productions in 2003, a company dedicated to supporting playwrights and encouraging the development of new plays. With Panndora, Sonja has produced, performed in and directed dozens of plays. Since 2007, her company has organized an annual new works festival, Panndora’s Box. The company produces one of the festival winners each year. In addition to Heartbeat Opera, Sonja sits on the Boards of the Antaeus Theatre Company and Fringe Benefits (promoting theatre for social justice), is a member of the Yale School of Drama Board of Advisors, the Yale Summer Cabaret Advisory Board, and the NYFA Leadership Council. Sonja was the founding board president of Westerly School, the first independent K-8 school in Long Beach. Sonja and her husband Patrick Seaver are active supporters of opera in Long Beach. Born and raised in Ojai, CA, Sonja is a reformed lawyer and was a partner at Latham & Watkins specializing in labor law. She is the proud mother of three grown children, and happy grandmother to two.

Robert Fitzpatrick

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Stephen M. Foster

After international career stints in banking, law, publishing and the arts, I am now “in retreat,” as the French say, but still on the battlefield, pursuing a second, 18th century historic preservation project and supporting fantastic organizations like Heartbeat Opera. I was sold on Heartbeat thirty minutes into attending my first performance (Lucia, 2015). This is a spirited and immensely talented company with an inspired, singular vision for opera theatre in the 21st century. As a board member, I hope to help in a modest way to see that vision fully realized… in New York, across the USA, and beyond.

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Jill Steinberg

Photographer Jill Steinberg is the Board President of National Sawdust, a non-profit music venue whose mission is to build new audiences for classical and new music by providing outstanding resources and programmatic support to both emerging and established artists and composers. Centered upon discovery, National Sawdust’s programming introduces audiences to new artists and styles, and introduces artists to new audiences. An incubator for new music, National Sawdust provides artists the space, time, and resources they need to create their art. She is also a Board member of OPERA America, a service organization dedicated to supporting the creation, presentation and enjoyment of opera. As a live performance photographer, she has documented National Sawdust growth from it's inception as their building underwent a transformation from a sawdust factory to a state-of-the-art performance space. She has photographed concerts at The Greene Space, Federal Hall and Pier 15. as well the annual FERUS Festival, and productions at The Kennedy Center, Disney Hall, The New Vic, The Krannert Center, Park Avenue Armory and Bay Chamber Music Festival. She also works with the director Kevin Newbury on his opera, theater and film projects, Waterwell Films, The PROTOTYPE Festival, Heartbeat Opera among other companies and has been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, Time Out New York, Time Out Amsterdam and Music Listening Today, among other publications. As a photographer, Steinberg has a unique perspective on the behind-the-scenes workings of small and emerging performing arts companies and their artists.