Iris Strauss was born in Chicago and moved to San Diego when she was in high school. A lyric-soprano, she majored in music, voice and opera at San Diego State University. She and her husband, Matthew Strauss, have three children and seven grandchildren, all residing in the San Diego area.
She is an active community volunteer and fundraiser for many organizations. The Mayor appointed Strauss as liaison for arts and culture. This position involves the planning of the 2015 Balboa Park Centennial, the North Embarcadero Visionary Plan and the proposed remodel of the Civic Center Plaza.
Strauss was elected chairman of the board of the San Diego Opera in 2008. Prior to that, she was president of the board for three years.
She founded the women's investment club, The Dow Divas, in 1996 and has been the president since inception. The Dow Divas is a support group for the San Diego Opera.
Strauss and her husband are contemporary art collectors and are active supporters of the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego. They've donated several important pieces to the permanent collection.
What brought you to Rancho Santa Fe?
RSF is a beautiful and peaceful community. We enjoy having a home with large grounds and mountain views. This gives us ample space for our extensive sculpture collection.
What makes the Ranch special to you?
The peacefulness and tranquility.
If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in Rancho Santa Fe?
Mail delivered to my home. We still make our daily pilgrimage to the post office box!
Who or what inspires you?
My husband and children are the greatest source of inspiration. My driving ambition is to make San Diego a major cultural city now and for future generations.
If you hosted a dinner party for eight, whom (living or deceased) would you invite?
President John and Jacqueline Kennedy, President Barack Obama and first lady Michelle Obama, Luciano Pavarotti, Maria Callas (at the far end of the table!), and Matthew and I.
What are you currently reading?
"Audition: A Memoir" by Barbara Walters and "An American Wife: A Novel" by Curtis Sittenfeld.
What is your most prized possession?
My home. Family pictures and memorabilia. And the contemporary art collection my husband and I acquired over the last 20 years.
What do you do for fun?
Art trips, travel with friends and family and watch movies when I'm at home.
Describe your greatest accomplishment.
Personal: My children. Career: Involvement with San Diego Opera, which includes founding The Dow Divas.
What is your motto or philosophy of life?
My philosophy of life is to be upbeat and positive. I try to be true to my beliefs and myself. I want my family to be proud of me.