Lights, camera, charity. Today we welcome Zoe Katz, Manager at Weinstein Carnegie Philanthropic Group to the Fit List. We admire Zoe for her determination to drive positive change and make a difference. That unending spirit of positivity led Zoe to create Pink is The New Black, a fashion event to raise money for breast cancer research while she was still in High School She says it’s her passion for giving back that drives her dedication each and every day. How does she network confidence? By working with inspiring clients, making a meaningful contribution to the fight against breast cancer and watching her good work pay off. Go Zoe.
- Tell us about your career path. What led you to make the transition from The Weinstein Company to Weinstein Carnegie Philanthropic Group?
I changed my mind a lot in college – I applied wanting to work in marketing for a charity and then I wanted to be a high school English teacher, but by the end of my sophomore year I was set on working in the film industry. After thorough research I determined that The Weinstein Company was the place to be. So I set my sights on a summer internship, landed the gig, and followed the company as an unpaid intern from New York to London to the Cannes Film Festival and back to New York for a second summer. By the time I graduated from the University of Michigan I had my heart set on becoming an official employee of The Weinstein Company and, as a result of relentless persistence, I got a full time job. I worked as the Assistant to the SVP of Theatrical Productions and Corporate Affairs for 2 years. My boss was really great about including me in all of the projects that she was involved in so, in addition to working on the release of a documentary and the production of the Broadway adaptation of Finding Neverland, I had the opportunity to work on The Weinstein Company’s various charitable involvements from Robin Hood to amfAR. As I approached 2 years at TWC and began to evaluate my favorite parts of the job, I realized that I was most passionate about working with the charities.
In fundraising with TWC, I was introduced to Sara Weinstein who, along with Harrie Bakst, runs Weinstein Carnegie Philanthropic Group, a boutique philanthropic agency that works with nonprofit organizations like Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, brands like Revlon on CSR campaigns, and athlete and celebrity foundations from Patricia Arquette’s GiveLove to the James Blake Foundation. Just like my experience with TWC, as soon as I learned of the amazing bridge that Weinstein Carnegie creates between Hollywood, the sports industry, and charity I knew that was where I wanted to be.
- You started out in an industry where there’s a lot of scut work at the beginning – “no job too big, no task to small” kind of places. Did you ever complain? How do you stay motivated when you are literally taking out the trash?
Lets just say my close family and friends know the name of every one I worked with from assistants to co-chairman. They were all extremely patient in listening to all of my venting and bragging! The film industry is all about high highs and low lows. Whenever I had to work late or answer emails on the weekends I thought about Barack Obama telling me to “keep smiling like that”…and how fortunate I was to have this job, family, friends, etc.
- It’s Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Tell us about The Pink Agenda and how you got involved.
Giving back is something that I was taught from a young age, but my passion for raising funds for breast cancer research really kicked off after my mother died of the disease when I was 13 years old. When you lose someone there is a sense of feeling like everything is out of your control. But as an intrinsically pro-active person I had to do something! Junior year of high school I was invited to the Operation Smile Young Gala put on by a group of New York City private schoolers. Upon receiving the invitation I turned to one of my best friends and said “If they can do this, we should. But for something that is important to us!” One thing led to another and my friend Danielle and I enlisted our friends and teachers to put on the first ever Pink Is The New Black: Strutting Our Stuff to Eliminate Breast Cancer fashion show in partnership with Bloomingdale’s White Plains and in memory of my mother and her aunt. We gathered in-kind and monetary sponsors, invited every student at Scarsdale High School, and rallied the community to raise $25,000 for the Breast Cancer Research Foundation (BCRF) (we raised another $15,000 at the next year’s event).
Pink Is The New Black led me to some of my most beloved mentors and friends at BCRF and ultimately to The Pink Agenda, which was acquired by BCRF in 2012. The Pink Agenda (www.thepinkagenda.org) is committed to raising money for breast cancer research and care, awareness of the disease among young professionals, and to engaging today’s generation toward finding a cure, so it was a no brainer that I had to get involved when I returned to NYC from college.
- We know you love camp! Share with us some of your favorite camp “life lessons.”
I learned so many life lessons at Camp Robindel. To begin with, Robindel taught me tolerance and independence. Living with girls whose parents do not have the exact same values and habits that you have, you learn to accept and learn from the things that they bring to the table. I also learned to take responsibility for myself. Finally, I learned how to be a leader as younger campers looked up to me and my peers as older siblings and friends.
5, When you have an off day or a tough day, what do you do to keep your game face on? What do you do to regroup and get back to a better place?
I’m a big spinner and I recently became obsessed with Peloton. I love that when I have a lot on my mind I can walk into a spin class and completely focus on the numbers on the screen and reaching my personal best, not the one million things I have to do when I leave. And when I’m feeling a bit lazier, I watch classic movies or episodes of unrealistically romantic television like Grey’s Anatomy and The Good Wife.
- She’s Fit to Lead is all about networking confidence. What’s your biggest confidence builder? Confidence killer?
My biggest confidence builders are meeting someone who I admire or raising a lot of money for one of our clients! Confidence killer – when a fundraising deal falls through or a potential connection doesn’t reply to my countless follow up emails!
- What is your favorite part of what you do?
I love how varied our clients are and as a result how varied our days, weeks, and months can be. In October alone we are working on a fundraising competition for charities in women’s cancers, diabetes, and heart disease, preparing runners to run the NYC Marathon, and planning events around the Golden Globes and Academy Awards. But at the end of the day it is all to raise money for amazing charities and the world-changing work that they are doing!
- What’s your favorite power meal? Favorite guilty pleasure?
Power meal – a great piece of grilled salmon, steamed broccoli, and brown rice, and a salad with fruit in it for lunch! Guilty pleasure is definitely Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream. My mom always said there is a special compartment in our stomachs for it – and I took that to heart.
- You’re involved in so many things in addition to work and friends! How do you balance it all?
I love keeping busy so it’s all about maintaining an extremely organized calendar and acknowledging that I need (lots of) nights where I just come home and veg on the couch with Netflix and DVR. There is nothing worse than wearing yourself out and having to cancel plans. I also try to regroup internally every so often to think about the people I haven’t connected with in a while and to reach out to them.
- What does She’s Fit to Lead mean to you?
To me She’s Fit to Lead is about creating a network of young women and mentors who can share with and learn from each other in order to inspire the next generation of Meryl Streeps, Sheryl Sandbergs, and Hillary Clintons.
- What did we miss? What should everyone know about you that we forgot to ask?
I made my trajectory seem pretty seamless, but it takes a ton of networking, persistence, keeping in touch, and following up. It is so important to remember (and I remind myself every day) that successful people tend to leave out the hard parts in their stories but “everybody has their sh*t”…more wise words from my mother. That’s not to be said that lemons cannot be made into limoncello. You just have to go for things and stay on top of it.
Thank you Zoe and welcome to the Fit List!