What's A Zoot?
Zoot Velasco serves as the Director of the Gianneschi Center for Nonprofit Research at California State University Fullerton’s Mihaylo College of Business & Economics where he also teaches Business and Marketing and produces the Gianneschi G3X conference & lecture series. He teaches certificated courses in Nonprofit Management and Corporate & Governmental Leadership of his own design at California Polytechnic Institute, Pomona with his own book as his text book, The First 100 Days, Leading Small Nonprofits Out of The Wilderness. As a consultant, he coaches organizations; provides leadership training camps and workshops; creates award-winning STEAM (Science Technology Engineering Arts & Math) curricula for schools; and creates Arts in Corrections programs for the California Arts Council and California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation. He currently leads a reentry arts program for the Riverside Arts Council at Riverside County Jails. His podcast 501(c)(3)(b)(s): Deprogramming for Organizational Growth, currently in its second season, has been listed as a top podcast for the nonprofit sector by Player FM.
Zoot holds a BA in dance from St. Mary’s College of California, an MBA in nonprofit management from Hope International University, and professional designations in arts education, fundraising, leadership, management, and conflict resolution.
His life was defined by one event. Zoot was severely burned as an infant, losing the use of the muscles in his right foot. He grew up in a hospital, inner-city neighborhoods, and a bomb shelter. Yet, he went on to a 12-year career as a professional break dancer, swing dancer, mime and actor working with artists like Prince, Michael Jackson, Arsenio Hall, James Cameron and more. He taught theatre in prisons, juvenile halls, foster care, schools and hospitals as a California Arts Council artist-in-residence before transitioning to leading the spaces that once employed him. He led created programs in Central Los Angeles for the LA Riot Recovery Program in 1992 and in Northridge-area Red Cross Shelters for the 1994 LA Earthquake Recovery Program after the Northridge earthquake. His prison arts program produced work now in museum collections at the Getty, Hammer, and Library of Congress. He built four new art centers in the harbor area for the City of Los Angeles and helped build a Boys & Girls Club in Harbor City and a theatre in Long Beach. He received fellowships from the California Arts Council Multicultural Arts Leaders Program, Coro Southern California, the City of Long Beach, and Executive Service Corps: all leadership training programs.
Zoot is a Certified Fundraising Executive (CFRE 2011), raising more than $28 million dollars for various community benefit organizations. As interim leader for six organizations, Zoot helped each more than double capacity in 18 months. From 2007–2016, he led the Muckenthaler Cultural Center in Fullerton and more than quadrupled the number of patrons, programs, members, budget, and endowment all during a bad economy through innovative local/regional/statewide award-winning STEAM programs and robust strategic partnerships.
Zoot is still a teaching-artist in prisons, schools, and community spaces. He works as a consultant, coach, trainer, emcee, auctioneer, and fund developer for struggling organizations. He still maintains his Screen Actors Guild card and performs for benefits. He leads food and travel adventures to raise funds for his favorite charities. He has authored screenplays, plays, poems, podcasts and two books. Zoot is a proud Rotarian and Paul Harris Fellow touring as a lecturer on Rotary history to clubs worldwide.