Charlie Colato

Name: Charlie Colato
Year: Senior
Major: Managerial Economics
Hometown: Los Angeles

It’s safe to say that Picnic Day is the day that every UC Davis student waits for with great anticipation. It comes but once a year, in all its glory, for every man, women, and child from far and wide to enjoy. The event gets a lot of attention, but what about the directors who work tirelessly throughout the year to make the event a reality?

It takes a Her Campus Campus Celebrity™ like Charlie Colato, the Chair of the Board of Directors for Picnic Day 2011, to make it all happen. As Business Director on the Picnic Day 2010 Board of Directors, Colato learned the behind the scenes workings of the event. The knowledge he gained in 2010 combined with his background and experience in management, led him to believe he had what it takes to be Chair of the Board of Directors for Picnic Day 2011. With the threat to shut down Picnic Day hanging like a cloud over Davis’s head, this year’s planning contained its own set of special circumstances to ensure the event ran smoothly. “This year is a bit different compared to last year with everyone asking what we were going to do about the situation downtown. That is definitely a new element to the position, which I have learned a lot from,” said Colato. In the face of this new challenge, Colato worked hard to establish positive working relationships with the Davis Police Department, University of California officials, downtown business, and everyone who has a stake in the event, to guarantee its success. Colato’s goal is to “at least see a curtailing in the events that occurred last year downtown and around Davis, so that in subsequent years, it will get progressively better. It is kind of sad that (binge drinking) is the first thing people associate it (Picnic Day) with. They don’t see the other things going on.”

As if planning the biggest event of the year doesn’t take up enough time and energy, Colato is also the president of Phi Delta Theta. “We just colonized about a week ago and that meant building something from the ground up, because it didn’t exist here before. It’s not like you are following a model.  It’s starting from scratch, and it has grown tremendously. We started with about nineteen guys last fall, and now we have fifty-two guys. All of a sudden, we are one of the bigger fraternities on campus,” stated Colato. When I asked him about his role in the fraternity, Colato joked that, “I just tell the guys that I sign checks, shake hands, and kiss babies.” On a more serious note, Colato’s role is more demanding than that. “I really give direction to the fraternity. The neat part of my job, because I am a little older, is I get to mentor and advise the brothers; that is pretty cool. That’s my job. What I do like about our fraternity is its diversity. The guys are involved in leadership positions outside of the fraternity, and I think that is something we can take a lot of pride in. We are trying to recruit guys who are already leaders. For the freshman it will be different, but hopefully them being surrounded by these types of guys will make them want to be the same,” explained Colato.

Unlike most undergraduate students at UC Davis, Colato is in the Army Reserves and has been for twelve years. He was pulled into active duty the same August he was set to transfer to California State University, Fullerton from junior college. It is possible he could be called again. Colota elaborated, “I joined in 1999, and it was a very different time back then. The world was at peace then, but September 11th changed everything. I have been fortunate that when I have been called out, it has been to teach at Whitesands Missile Range. I have been pretty lucky that my assignments have been stateside. It is not a matter of if, but when (I will get/be called to duty again). I don’t want to go off, but if I have to, I have to. It’s more realistic for me (to be called) now because I am changing my job in the Army Reserves from constructing to engineering, and when wars break out, things need to be built.” Colato can easily go from being Chair on the Board of Directors for Picnic Day one moment to being an active soldier the next.

After college, Colato wants to pursue a career in the food and beverage industry. When he studied abroad in Spain, he took a food, science, and technology course. “I really liked the material and I find the material really interesting, but more the operations side of it. When I went to Spain, I saw the packing factories, breweries, and wineries. It was cool to see how stuff was made. Actually, my Phi Delta Theta Colony Advisor is the general manager for Miller-Coors in the Northern California and Nevada regions, so I am going to hit him up for an internship,” explained Colato.

No matter Colato’s next path, he is sure to make a lasting impression and better the people and organizations he interacts with. So, as you remember Picnic Day and all if has to offer, don’t forget to remember the person behind the scene who makes it all possible.

Edited by: Brianna Frisch