By Mikkel Hyldebrandt
With over 20 years of professional background working in nonprofit organizations and higher education management, Buck Cooke is the new Executive Director of PALS Atlanta. Peach talked to him about his new position, the labor of love and rewarding work of serving a nonprofit, and how he plans to develop PALS Atlanta.
You were recently appointed as the new Executive Director for PALS Atlanta – tell about this new opportunity?
I’m originally from South Carolina, but I’ve lived in Atlanta for over 17 years and refer to it as my “adopted hometown.” I had dreams of living here as a kid thanks to the television show “Designing Women.” I’m excited to be a part of Pets Are Loving Support because of the organization’s long history and important mission. I love animals and know how important a pet is to anyone, but especially for our clients. Being able to raise money to provide food and services for the pets of our clients is an honor so that PALS can “help a friend keep a friend,” as our slogan states.
You came from Jerusalem House – another worthy Atlanta nonprofit: What qualifications do you bring with you?
I worked as Director of Development for Jerusalem House, and I was the Executive Director for Atlanta Pride for three-and-a-half years. I volunteered with Atlanta Pride for a few years in logistics and served as co-chair of the Entertainment Committee for three years before joining the staff.
How would you describe this new and next step in your career?
Working for a nonprofit organization is a labor of love, so it is rewarding to know the things I do day in and day out help our clients. I enjoy helping people, and I’m an animal lover, so a job like this is a good fit.
What are some of the hopes and goals you have for PALS Atlanta?
I want to do what I can to bolster PALS and help increase the reach and sustainability of the organization. Too many times we assume, organizations will be around forever, but that isn’t necessarily the case. When you’re the executive director of a nonprofit organization, it is important to look for new ways to increase awareness of the organization, its mission, and its services. It’s vitally important to make sure the organization is providing a pathway for new people to become involved and gain experience that can prepare them for future leadership roles. Organizational sustainability might not be as sexy as planning a high-profile fundraiser, but sustainability is critical to the success of the organization.
Tell us about some of the upcoming events and incentives that PALS Atlanta has planned?
In addition to our monthly drag queen bingo fundraisers on the second Tuesday of every month at Lips Atlanta (Join us on February 12 for Stupid Cupid!) and our monthly shot clinics for the pets of our clients and some community members, we’re already working on plans for the second annual Fur Ball Masquerade, which will be held in the fall.
Anything you’d like to add?
PALS is always looking for new volunteers. We can use any amount of time you can give, from one-time service to an ongoing, regular commitment to one (or more) of our tasks. We would love to have more people become involved with PALS. Volunteers are needed to help with delivering pet food to clients, transporting pets and clients to and from veterinary appointments, planning fundraisers, hosting bingo, community outreach, hosting shot clinics, and picking up and putting donated food into storage. We all have an hour or two here or there that can be donated to a worthy cause, so please consider PALS when you want to give back to the community.
Visit palsatlanta.org for more information about donating or volunteering.