Retiree Spotlight

Meet Zoe Kopp

Zoe Kopp

Zoe Kopp has always had a passion for helping others. Before joining Pfizer, Zoe worked for CARE International and other large nonprofit organizations. When she joined the company, she was involved with the Outcomes Research Team of Pfizer’s International Pharmaceutical Group, and now in her retirement she is the president of her own nonprofit, GRACE Cares. Looking back over her career, Zoe attributes much of her inspiration and skill for her nonprofit work from her time at Pfizer.

Zoe and Dr. Anabella Perez in Guatemala on the Mayan Traditional Medicine project.

Time at Pfizer

Looking back on the highlights of her time at the company, Zoe said, “I did so many different things and each new role came with exciting new challenges.” Zoe began working as a consultant for Pfizer in 1996 and officially joined the staff two years later in the Outcomes Research Division. Sometime later she switched to Pfizer Health Solutions working in Disease Management before returning to the Outcomes Research Division in 2003. There, Zoe worked largely in the urology therapeutic area leading international epidemiological studies and supporting clinical trials. Zoe ended her time with the company as the Senior Director of the Patient Reported Outcome Center of Excellence in the Market Access Group.

What really stood out to Zoe was the opportunity to pursue her passion for nonprofit-related work. When Pfizer started the Global Health Fellowship Program, Zoe couldn’t wait to sign up, “I was so anxious to be a part of it because coming from the nonprofit background, I really missed being able to help and serve others in that direct capacity.” Through the Global Health Fellowship Program, Zoe developed her skills in nonprofit planning and evaluation, further preparing her for work in the nonprofit field that she would continue in retirement.

As a Global Health Fellow Zoe worked with Project HOPE, in the Dominican Republic. It was here that Zoe met a local man, Ruben Ottenwalder, who wanted to bring education to his community that was lacking basic resources such as clean water. GRACE Cares helped him to establish a nonprofit to get resources to his community. Through this project, Zoe and her husband, realized what they wanted to do: help others. “There were so many individuals who want to help their communities but lack the resources or skills,” said Zoe. Working on Pfizer global projects gave Zoe the opportunity to do what she loved most. “I was able to work with people from all over the world which was a great international experience. In fact, that inspired me to do the work I’m doing now in my retirement.”

From For-Profit to Non-Profit

From left to right: T.Namaya (Zoe’s husband and GRACE co-founder), Ruben Ottenwalder (a partner in the Dominican Republic) and his family. Wife, Annamaria and daughters Rosie and Nene.

Zoe, her husband Thom Namaya, and their 15-year-old nephew, Kenneth Giancola started GRACE Cares in 2002. GRACE stands for — Growth, Resources, Action and Community Empowerment. GRACE Cares partners with “local heroes” who want to see change in their communities but don’t have the proper resources or skills. The organization trains these individuals and teaches them how to set up project plans and proposals while helping them get support from local organizations and government agencies.

As the president and program manager, Zoe has quite a busy day as she answers emails, tracks finances for projects, and mentors young people who also want to start projects to help their communities. “That’s the most exciting part of my job. I love working with younger people and showing them how to strategically plan a project, do fundraising, and interact with different cultures. Overall, it’s incredibly rewarding.”

Zoe spends three months of the year traveling in the US and in other countries working side-by-side with locals on GRACE Cares projects. Traveling is just one of the perks for Zoe who has been to more than 100 countries both for work and for fun, “I have this insatiable wanderlust of wanting to know all the beautiful things in the world.” When she’s not travelling, Zoe resides in Vermont with her husband where they enjoy kayaking, hiking, and watching the seasons change.

Reflecting on her career in retirement and the inspiration Zoe found from Pfizer she said, “There are so many ways that we can use the skills we learned to do a lot of good in the world.”

To learn more about Zoe’s organization visit GRACE Cares.

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