Los Angeles – Below is an email to Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) members from the Board of Directors announcing David Young’s departure from WGAW at the end of his contract and Ellen Stutzman’s promotion to Executive Director.
David Young first joined WGAW in 2004 as Organizing Director, and became Executive Director in 2005. Young’s organizing experience and strategic acumen were essential to building the Guild into the fighting organization it is today.
“David is a shrewd, creative strategist,” said WGAW President Meredith Stiehm. “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 WGAW 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 former WGAW President and 2023 WGA Negotiating Committee co-chair Chris 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.”
“When we hired David Young, his directive was to turn our Guild into a union: a forward-looking, organizing union with an informed, engaged, and activated membership, working for the betterment of writers,” said former WGAW President Patric M. Verrone. “One of my mantras in WGAW leadership was to ‘Do what David says.’ I believe that every member of our Guild, and nearly every worker in the entertainment industry, has benefited from doing what David says.”
Ellen Stutzman has been with WGAW for 18 years and most recently served as WGA Chief Negotiator during 2023 MBA negotiations, leading the Guild through a 148-day strike.
“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 Keyser. “The first, maybe most important, decision we all made in the course of our 2023 MBA fight was to trust Ellen. 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.”
“For the past 18 years, Ellen's brought her quiet brilliance, resoluteness, and sharp sense of humor to her work at the Guild,” said Goodman. “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.”
“Throughout the history of the Writers Guild West, every executive director but one began their tenure by leading writers through a strike. Ellen enters the job having already done that,” said Verrone. “That kind of preparation is quintessential Ellen. Combined with the wisdom, insight, grace, and experience I’ve seen her exhibit over the last 18 years, it makes me look forward with great optimism to whatever she intends to do as executive director for an encore.”
The Writers Guild of America West (WGAW) is a labor union representing writers of motion pictures, television, radio, and Internet programming, including news and documentaries. Founded in 1933, the Guild negotiates and administers contracts that protect the creative and economic rights of its members. It is involved in a wide range of programs that advance the interests of writers, and is active in public policy and legislative matters on the local, national, and international levels. For more information on the WGAW, please visit: www.wga.org.