Ellen Stutzman, who served as chief negotiator during the strike, has been named the new director of WGA West, the guild’s President Meredith Stiehm announced on Friday. Outgoing veteran David Young has held the position since 2005.
“Ellen is a steady, calm force to be reckoned with, as we all witnessed these past five months as she led us to victory in the 2023 strike,” said Stiehm. “She is beloved by staff and members, and I have every confidence in her as she steps into this role. Writers could not be in better hands.”
“There’s nothing more important – that determines the outcome of things more – than the right person at the right time. Ellen was that for us. The exact right person at a tenuous moment,” said former WGAW president and 2023 WGA Negotiating Committee co-chair Chris Keyser.
“The first, maybe most important, decision we all made in the course of our 2023 MBA fight was to trust Ellen,” Keyser added. “We trusted her completely: her calm, her strategic sense, her fire. She is the thing that held us together – this knowledge, this comfort: Ellen is in there for us.”
Stutzman has been with WGA West for 18 years.
Stiehm also praised Young, saying, “David is a shrewd, creative strategist. Under his leadership we won the 2007 strike, made gains in five MBA negotiations; and most notably, won the agency campaign, a stunning success for our Guild. It transformed writers’ financial lives, and ensured that their interests were properly aligned with their representatives’.”
“As Executive Director, David Young completely redefined the position,” said former WGA West president and 2023 WGA Negotiating Committee co-chair David A. Goodman. “But what was just as important was his role as mentor to me and so many other Guild leaders; he educated us on the challenges the WGA faced being a vital union in Hollywood, and that, whatever those specific challenges, it didn’t change the fact that our power was every union’s power: the organization, education and solidarity of our membership.”
“Like all of us in this generation of Guild leadership, everything I know about using writer power to make writers’ lives better I learned from David Young. Under his direction, we became braver in defense of ourselves and more trusting of each other, more forward-looking, more united,” said Keyser. “He brought to the Guild a staff of incredible people who have dedicated their lives to our well-being and to the rights of labor. If we have become a kind of symbol of what a union – even a small union – can do, it is because of what David encouraged us to believe was possible.”
“For the past 18 years, Ellen’s brought her quiet brilliance, resoluteness, and sharp sense of humor to her work at the Guild,” Goodman said. “Without missing a beat, she became leader and counselor to a membership of 11,500, and carried us through to victory with skillful and experienced strategic thinking, and a clarity of thought that kept out the noise of insecurity and timidity. Generations of writers will look back at 2023 and see how lucky we were that Ellen was there when we needed her.”
For all of TheWrap’s strike coverage, read more here.