Rachael Worby is not your typical philanthropist. She achieved international recognition as a pioneering orchestral conductor at a time when women were not typically found on the podium. Since long before last fall’s Woman to Woman Conference—when she brought Latin GRAMMY Award-winner Gaby Moreno to perform—Rachael has been a passionate supporter of the JVS SoCal Women’s Leadership Network.
JVS SoCal’s Women’s Leadership Network is a devoted group of women helping other women through professional transition. Rachael has been inspiring the group in presentations and partnerships for nearly a decade. Her philosophy is simple: “Live music is a basic human right.” Just as access to sustainable jobs and healthcare promote our general welfare, access to music promotes imagination and enables us to envision greater possibilities for ourselves and our loved ones.
Rachael’s true passion lies in helping others. “I am a social activist,” she says – and she puts music and arts education squarely at the center of that endeavor. Her performances address pressing social issues such as homelessness, poverty, and racial inequality. “Too many of us have lost the ability to empathize with others. We become indifferent when we can no longer imagine the challenges faced by other people. Live music bridges that divide. It joins us in the same experience and we become more generous to everyone around us.”
Rachael’s own professional journey was not without barriers. “You know, when I said I wanted to become a conductor, the patronizing response was, ‘you would make such a great music teacher.’”
When she was starting out as a conductor, she had to extend people’s imaginations to include women conductors. “Decades ago, as a woman, one might stand up in front of an orchestra and turn to the men in the trumpet section, and they would walk out.” Persevering in the face of gender discrimination in her career helped push her to new professional heights.
She has since built a storied career; she served as an Assistant Conductor for the LA Philharmonic, as Music Director and Conductor of the Young People’s Concerts at Carnegie Hall, on the National Council of the Arts as an appointee of President Bill Clinton, as Music Director and Conductor of the Wheeling Symphony Orchestra in West Virginia, and as Music Director of the Pasadena Pops. Rachael founded and currently serves as the Artistic and Music Director of MUSE/IQUE, a performing arts nonprofit known for its innovative programming and community outreach.
Among her many honors are the Spirit of Achievement from Albert Einstein College, the Women of Excellence award from the YWCA, an honorary Doctor of Humanities from Marshall University, the Presidential Medal of Honor for her consummate lifetime achievements, an honorary Doctor of Letters from Claremont University, and the prestigious Rosaline L. Zukerman Women’s Empowerment Award from the JVS SoCal Women’s Leadership Network.
Rachael is a strong advocate for social justice and has used her platform to raise awareness of important social issues. “I did something that changed one life and that one life changed another life,” reflected Rachael. A model and inspiration for women everywhere, Rachael is now reaching out to lift up women through JVS SoCal’s incredible programs and services. “I’m fortunate to live out my deep commitment to change the world one person at a time.”
Would you like to help others access the training they need to get good jobs? We are grateful to our generous donors, like the Women’s Leadership Network, for their ongoing support of women in professional transition. Please consider donating here.