Biracial (African American/ Jewish)
Curator of Equity Initiatives
Los Angeles Zoo
Year zoo career began:
Rachel Helfing (she/her) is the Curator of Equity Initiatives. In this position, Rachel is developing a Zoo-wide paid internship program and developing structures and processes that support the LA Zoo’s culture of inclusion.
From a young age, Rachel knew she loved animals and the outdoors. Rachel was lucky to have several nature mentors who encouraged her to follow her passions and think outside the “traditional” career pathways. Thanks to their inspiration, Rachel graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Earth and Environmental Science and went on to try a number of jobs she might not have considered, including working as a wildlife educator, archery instructor, horse wrangler, and environmental interpreter. After working at the Dallas Zoo and Children’s Aquarium at Fair Park, Rachel discovered that zoos and aquariums perfectly combined her love of working with people, animals, and nature.
Rachel went on to get her M.A. in STEM Education (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) before joining the Los Angeles Zoo in Fall 2019 as a Visitor Engagement Coordinator. During the Zoo’s closure, she served as a Disaster Service Worker (DSW) for Project Roomkey, providing support to LA Family Housing as they sheltered the City of Los Angeles’s vulnerable people experiencing homelessness.
In August 2021, Rachel transferred divisions at the LA Zoo to join the Equity Programs team. Rachel’s varied career background combined with her personal experience of growing up biracial fueled her passion for DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion) work and drives her to give others the same opportunities she was fortunate to have when she started her professional journey.
Outside of work, Rachel enjoys baking cakes and cookies, and camping with her husband and dog.