10 Remarkable O.C. Women

Betty Huang

Arts Champion

Huang was house-hunting here 24 years ago when an enterprising real estate agent told her about a family IMG_3729event at Segerstrom Center for the Arts. Holding fast to the hands of her 4- and 6-year-old kids, she found herself in the middle of heartwarming chaos: Delighted children—“And I mean little, little kids!”—were being introduced to classical music and to performance. Huang surveyed the scene and marveled. Her involvement in the arts community began immediately. Now 59, she has been a director on multiple boards, raised unprecedented funds, and organized black-tie events for the center, South Coast Repertory, and Pacific Symphony among others. Huang is the responsible, unfailingly gracious, intelligent, and humble volunteer whom nonprofits need to make the arts available to all.

We appreciate the arts, but why is live performance important?
You can see facial expressions, see the artists breathing, feel the emotions, and all of it touches your heart. I had a Chinese upbringing in Hong Kong; and for a girl, that meant piano and ballet. But there weren’t opportunities to attend performances.

You often become emotional when you talk about Segerstrom’s education and outreach programs.
I do. There’s one in particular. It’s for troubled young adults, and it’s called Summer at the Center. Whenever I talk about this program I have tears in my eyes, because two weeks can change a person. I’ve seen it.

Is it the outreach that makes the center so special to you?
Yes. It’s also why I love fundraising: Fundraising is not just about the money! There are many other things that we do behind the scenes, and I would like to see more people involved. Because then we can be involved in more of our community.