People / Our Staff

Walter Zooi

Executive Director

Walter is an nonprofit organizational leader and arts entrepreneur with over 25 years of experience in program development, strategic planning, and implementing organizational change.  Soon after he joined YMF, Walter drove a significant refocusing of the organization’s mission and structure, the goal of which was to bring music and media arts education to profoundly underserved and marginalized communities. YMF currently serves over 5,200 students at 27 schools and community partner organizations across greater LA and has created healing-based, culturally responsive and sustaining programs that include workforce development training in media arts production.

Prior to YMF, Walter founded the South Pasadena Music Center and Conservatory, a community-based music school that taught over 10,000 students and employed over 100 teachers in its 14 year existence. As director of communications at the California Institute of the Arts he oversaw the branding and development communications program for both the Institute and the Roy and Edna Disney CalArts Theater (REDCAT) in the Walt Disney Concert Hall. He held a similar position with USC’s Thornton School of Music, where he was part of the development team that helped secure Flora L. Thornton’s $25 million naming gift to the school.

Walter is a board member of Street Symphony, a Los Angeles-based nonprofit that utilizes music to create opportunities for human connection to homeless residents of the Skid Row community. His wife Rachel is a High School guidance counselor, and has two adult sons, Maximillian, a professional musician, and Alexander, a sound designer and composer.