Alumni spotlight: Tracy Katz
Since earning degrees in music education and special education from VCU, Tracy Katz (B.M.E.’86/A; M.Ed.’90/E) has taken on numerous roles in both Richmond, Virginia, and Philadelphia, where she has lived since 2000.
Katz worked with Paul Wehman, Ph.D., at the VCU Rehabilitation Research and Training Center; she then remained involved in disability education and employment as a special education teacher and director of business development with Networks for Training and Development, a nonprofit that promotes inclusive communities.
After she had children, Katz began selling Discovery Toys at home parties. She took a break from selling a few years ago and then started up again recently and now sells the toys primarily to early intervention organizations.
Katz also ran a neighborhood coffee shop, Trail’s End Cafe, in Bala Cynwyd from 2016-19. After selling the shop, she started TLK Consulting, a business providing grant writing and related services to nonprofits and start-up companies. Though she is busy, Katz still finds time to continue another passion: teaching clarinet lessons.
The motivation behind all of Katz’s endeavors is her love of interacting with people. “I’m a compulsive connector,” she says. “That is the reason behind a lot of stuff I have done. I like to know I can help somebody by connecting them to something.”
How did you first get involved with VCU Alumni?
I went to an event here in Philly about 10 years ago and then just started meeting people. About four or five years ago, the person who was running the chapter stepped down, so I stepped up with two other people. They have since moved, and I now lead the chapter with Stephen Southall (B.S.’12/GPA) and a rotating cast of people who host miscellaneous events throughout the year.
What would you tell someone who is considering becoming an alumni chapter leader?
I think the biggest thing people should know is that if they enjoy other people’s company, then it’s not a big deal to lead a chapter. Events don’t have to be huge. We’ve had events with four or five people and events with 40 people.
It’s also important to remember that it can be what you want it to be. You don’t have to do whatever the person before you did. Sometimes, simpler is better.
What is your favorite Philadelphia Chapter event?
I really enjoyed our recent walk to raise money for Reflect Organization [a nonprofit based in Philadelphia that focuses on mental health awareness among college students]. It drew up interest, and I think that felt good for everybody.
The Phillies baseball games are fun, and I still enjoy a watch party [where alumni gather to watch a VCU basketball game together].
What do you tell newcomers or visitors to Philadelphia?
Philly is very rich in fun. It’s like New York, but small. You can always find something without having to walk five miles or take the subway. Even in the suburbs, there is incredible food, and there are great communities.