We had the good fortune of connecting with Kate Zarouk and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Kate, we’d love to hear about how you approach risk and risk-taking
I believe that it is often when we force ourselves to take risks that we yield the most satisfactory results, even when those results are not what we originally intended. I learned to grow more comfortable with risk as I have matured, but I would still describe myself as a calculated risk taker. Risk taking has played a role in both my personal and professional life. I took a risk and changed my professional focus, not once but twice transitioning from a career in the law to a career in education and now to a career in the world of nonprofit organizations. I took a risk in my personal life moving across the country not once but twice. I can honestly say that my biggest risks have reaped the greatest rewards. As T.S. Eliot said, “(o)nly those who risk going too far can possibly find out how far it is possible to go”!
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Currently, I am the Executive Director of The Water Buffalo Club which is a fantastic nonprofit founded in 1989 that is dedicated to enriching the lives of at-risk and underserved youth across greater Los Angeles. The Water Buffalo Club is different from other local nonprofits in that it is a 100% male membership based organization that reinvests 100% of all monies raised through fundraising efforts in the community to help local children in need.
The Water Buffalo Club organizes a variety of hands-on events itself like providing meals for families in need at Thanksgiving and Christmas, supplying foster youth with backpacks and school supplies and taking elementary students on field trips. Annually, our Organization awards over $125,000 to smaller local charities through our Silver Bullet Grant Program to fund projects and services benefitting at risk and underserved youth. Additionally, The Water Buffalo Club collaborates with other nonprofits to support larger community building projects like our partnership with the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation to support the rehabilitation of Gonzales Park in Compton through the Dodgers Dreamfields Project.
My current job allows me to fulfill a personal passion of making a difference in my community. I love that I get to interact with the amazing men who are members of our Organization as well as the leaders of the other nonprofits that we work and the children and families who are being served by all the causes the Water Buffalo Club supports.
Getting to where I am today professionally took a lot of hard work and determination. The most important lessons that I learned along the way are to 1) be willing to advocate for what you know is right, 2) be flexible, 3) look for solutions, 4) lead by example and 5) surround yourself with people who make you want to be a better person and who add value to your life. Perseverance is key! Additionally, I have always tried to find strong women who can be mentors or sources of inspiration and or collaboration.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
Los Angeles is a great city to host a guest! There is never a shortage of places to eat, things to do, or things to see.
If I had guests visiting for a week and I wanted to show them the best time ever (non-covid times), I would take them to the following places:
We would shop at Eataly and Monsieur Marcel and cook at home. We would eat at Nobu Malibu – because it has good food and a great view, Felix in Venice because handmade pasta is essential for carb lovers, Sidecar Doughnuts, Republique and Mitsuwa Market’s food court. We would also stop in at the Grand Central Market and the new food hall in Culver City. We would walk at the beach, go to the Getty, go to the LA Opera, LA Philharmonic or catch a concert at the Hollywood Bowl. We would go shopping in Venice, the Palisades, and Beverly Hills, and we would for sure check out some amazing art at local galleries.
We like to keep busy!
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
I am blessed to have so many wonderful role models, mentors and people who have given me support and encouragement throughout my life. While there are SO many people I would like to recognize, such as my parents, my family, my teachers, and my dearest friends etc., the person who deserves just a little extra credit and recognition in my story is Jody Lowry who untimely passed away in 2009. While Jody is no longer able to be here in person, her values, her spirit and her impact continue to resonate through the lives of her husband, her daughters, her grandchildren and all who knew her. Jody saw the best in others and made the best out of even the most challenging of situations. Daily I challenge myself to try to live up to the example she set in all areas and to do as much as I can to make my community a better place for those who do not have the advantages and opportunities that I have.