Eleanor Ellsworth finds joy in sharing her time and talents

Eleanor Ellsworth, who sits on the executive committee of the board of directors of La Jolla Music Society, is chair of the 2010 SummerFest that opens Aug. 6. She is also Senior Associate Rector at St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church in La Jolla. She serves on the council of the Episcopal Diocese of San Diego and is chair of the Social Justice Commission. She was chair of the Commission on Ministry and a member of the Board of Governors of the National Association of Episcopal Schools.

Locally, she served on the boards of the Foundation for Women and the Del Mar Rotary Club, and currently serves on the North County Nurse-Family Partnership Advisory Board. She is a member of the Dean’s Roundtable of UCSD’s Graduate School of International Relations and Pacific Studies (IRPS.)

An advocate for empowerment of women and girls, Ellsworth is a multi-year delegate to the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women for the Anglican Communion. She was Convener of Muslim-Anglican Dialogues in San Diego for the Anglican Communion.

Ordained for 20 years, she served churches and schools in the Washington, DC area and in Memphis. Her previous academic posts were with The Catholic University of America and the University of Tennessee. Her federal employment was with the Tennessee Valley Authority, after graduating with masters degrees in both Library and Information Science and Public Administration from the University of Tennessee. Her Masters in Divinity was earned at the Virginia Theological Seminary in Alexandria, Va., in 1990.

What brought you to La Jolla?

Exactly eight years ago this month my husband, Robert (Bob) and I married. He enticed me to San Diego where he had recently co-founded a life sciences venture capital fund. I never would have dreamed that I would move to San Diego, but I am so very glad we did!

What makes La Jolla (and/or SummerFest) special to you?

The village atmosphere of La Jolla means a lot to me. La Jolla is much more than the village, but it is the heart of the community to me. St. James is a proud part of the tradition of the village of La Jolla, for over 100 years, and it is a privilege to be part of its tradition. SummerFest is about to enter its 25th year (next season), and it is great to be involved with the music, artists and patrons it brings together year-after-year. La Jolla truly is a jewel!

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in La Jolla (or SummerFest?)

Need I mention traffic and parking improvement?

With regard to SummerFest, I would like to see La Jolla as a community even more involved with this unique, rich festival. Too many people still do not know about the opportunity to attend “encounters” with composers and artists, coaching workshops, open rehearsals and special outreach experiences for children in greater San Diego — all free offerings for the public, in addition to the fabulous concert series.

We, the La Jolla Music Society, added the free outdoor concert, “SummerFest Under the Stars” to thank La Jolla and all San Diego for its support over the years. This year it is Wednesday, Aug. 4 at the La Jolla Cove. Do come!

What inspires you?

A living person who inspires me is Muhammad Yunus. The micro-credit movement he originated in his home country of Bangladesh continues to give hope and positively impacts the lives of women (and men and families) throughout the world, including here in San Diego.

On a more personal level, I derive my “inspiration” from the Holy Spirit, and I find I am inspired by beauty — in nature, in the world around us, in art and music, and in people whose hearts are full of love, compassion and creativity.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased), would you invite?

Queen Elizabeth I, George Sand, Frederic Chopin, Hildegard von Bingen, William Faulkner, Golda Meir, Sir Sean Connery and Katharine Hepburn.

What are you reading?

I usually read a few books at a time. I just finished Muriel Barbery’s “The Elegance of the Hedgehog,” which I wholeheartedly recommend. “The Tree of Life: An Exploration of Biblical Wisdom Literature” by Roland Murphy, Karen Armstrong’s “Buddha,” and Amir Aczel’s “The Jesuit and the Skull” are my current enjoyable reads.


Liquid Jade: The Story of Tea from East to West” by Beatrice Hohenegger is a lovely summer book for tea lovers like me.

What is your most-prized possession?

Materially, it is my vintage Mason & Hamlin grand piano.

What do you do for fun?

Photography is great fun for me, as is spending leisure time at the bluff at Torrey Pines. I like to play tennis, watch movies, some TV, and read. I have fun going to a variety of concerts and lectures and viewing interesting art. I enjoy a “cup of tea” with people or a glass of wine. Sharing meals with friends is hard to beat.

Our pets, Zorro (Dalmatian) and Anubis (black cat), give my husband Bob and me enormous pleasure day-to-day, plus we both like to read aloud from time-to-time and relax with the newspaper.

Describe your greatest accomplishment.

Raising my two children, Jack and Sara, so special to me, comes first to mind. Then I think my greatest accomplishment may be having an open spirit — open to growing and developing throughout my life. I am a work-in-progress, blessed with a rich life and lots of love.

What is your philosophy of life?

Be not afraid. Tolerate ambiguities in life. Embrace life and love. Be grateful for the grace we experience, and do unto others as you would have them do unto you — The Golden Rule, which transcends all religions and belief systems. Courage!