Zoe Katz and I met when were both green assistants right out of college working for two of the biggest players in the entertainment space. Now she combines her passions for the entertainment industry and philanthropy in her role as Director of Entertainment Philanthropy at WCPG, a highly-regarded cause agency with specialized experience in pop-culture.
Since joining WCPG in 2014, Zoe has helped lead the firm’s work within the entertainment industry. During her tenure she has managed fundraising and partnership efforts for the charitable organizations and interests of Nick Jonas, Seth Rogen, Sean Penn, Wendy Williams, Patricia Arquette, Jason Derulo, and the SAG-AFTRA Foundation, creating partnerships with corporations from Diageo to Bumble and raising significant funding to support various efforts. She has also led entertainment industry engagement efforts for organizations, including the Child Mind Institute, New Story, and the Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation.
This past fall, Zoe launched WCPG’s office in Los Angeles with the goal of better servicing West Coast-based clients and to create a seamless bridge between charity clients and the entertainment industry. I recently caught up with Zoe in sunny Santa Monica to talk more about her career trajectory, opening a new office, and her passion for helping some of the world’s biggest stars use their platform for good.
Lina Renzina: What attracted you to working for Weinstein Carnegie Philanthropic Group?
Zoe Katz: I loved the idea of working in the entertainment industry while also focusing on the cause and social impact space, the work that individuals in the industry were doing for various organizations, and the partnerships that WCPG was creating.
LR: How has your role evolved from when you first started at the company to what you do now? Can you walk us through your day-to-day role?
ZK: It’s been really exciting since I started about four years ago! The organization has grown exponentially. We’ve started working with a number of new clients, both talent who have started their own organizations as well as large hospitals and well-known charities that are really brands in themselves.
Since I’ve been working with WCPG, we’ve grown our roster to include Beyond Type 1, co-founded by Nick Jonas, Wendy Williams’ charity The Hunter Foundation, Save the Children, Children’s Brain Tumor Foundation, Represent.Us, amongst others.
On a day-to-day basis, I’m working with our existing clients to create new partnerships with brands, new talent ambassadors, and donors – all who may help them raise money for the good work that they’re doing. Since I’ve moved to the west coast I’m also working on growing our west coast clients and relationships. Because of this, a lot of my work and my time is spent meeting with charities based on the west coast, who’s work we may be able to support, as well as with people and organizations who exist in a similar space (agencies, brand PR firms, technology platforms, etc.), who may be good resources for our clients.
LR: Why do you think it’s important for celebrities and brands to take part in social causes today?
ZK: The landscape has grown and changed so much but in an amazing way. More than ever, consumers and fans are supporting brands and high-profile individuals who really stand for something. While it’s been a great add-on in the past, now it has become something that really seems necessary. It’s easier to gain a consumer or fan’s trust when they know you have a genuine passion or connection to something or someone who’s doing good in the world.
LR: What’s your favorite part of the work that you do?
ZK: My favorite part is the diversity in the people that we work with and the causes that we support. In one day, I can be working on a project that supports the disaster relief and recovery efforts of our client CORE, which was founded post-earthquake in Haiti by Sean Penn, building out an ambassador council for Beyond Type 1’s new Beyond Type 2 initiative, and working on a pay-equity project with Patricia Arquette. These projects alone will speak to different brands and supporters. The causes are different, the people that we’re working with are different, the brands that we’re creating partnerships with can vary from anything from a luxury brand in the fashion space to a fast food restaurant. It can really make for an interesting day.
LR: What has been your favorite campaign or project to work on so far?
ZK: Because everything is so diverse, I have favorites for different reasons. Working with Revlon on LOVE IS ON Million Dollar Challenge was extremely rewarding. They are a huge brand client and I had spent years watching the run/walks happen, so to be on the front lines of the ideation and execution of their revamp of a major Fortune 500 company’s cause strategy was really exciting and rewarding. And to be able to give away over six million dollars over two years was really fantastic.
It was equally as rewarding working with Patricia Arquette and partnering her with Mark Benioff from Salesforce for the Dinner for Equality, following her historic Oscar speech. The event brought together leading CEOs, individuals that are on the front lines fighting for the equal rights amendment, and advocates from the Hollywood community to have a conversation about equal pay, which was really an incredible evening.
LR: Do you have any advice or tips to those hoping to get more involved in social good efforts, whether it’s professionally or personally?
ZK: There are always organizations looking for your support as a volunteer, as a donor, as a board member, or even as a consumer. It’s as easy as poking around online and thinking of causes that are important to you and reaching out to see how you can help. As a consumer, you can also start to look for organizations that are or organizations that have cause and social impact in their DNA. Professionally, there are so many corporations that are now highlighting the social impact space and creating jobs around giving back.
LR: What are the causes that you are personally passionate about?
ZK: There are two causes that I am most personally passionate about. First is The Pink Agenda, a breast cancer research organization committed to raising money for breast cancer research and care, as well as awareness of the disease among young professionals. It’s a really incredible organization that I’m so proud to sit on the board of. We are raising a lot of money and a lot of hell to put an end to breast cancer.
I’m also extremely passionate about Experience Camps, which are one-week camps for children that have lost a parent, sibling or parent/sibling-like figure. They run camps in the summer in California, Maine, Pennsylvania, Georgia and Michigan. They are completely free for kids that are 9 to 15. It’s an incredible place where kids can come and remember that they are not alone in a world where, unfortunately, it feels extremely isolating to have lost a significant person in your life.
LR: If you could pick a celebrity, brand and non-profit client to work with for an epic fundraising project, who would you pick?
ZK: I absolutely love Meryl Streep, so I would do anything with her. I think Meryl Streep and Revlon teaming up for Breast Cancer research would be amazing for women empowerment.