“I’m living proof that with the right environment anything is possible, and inclusion is real.”
Chaz Kellem is one of those people making a positive difference in Pittsburgh.
For a decade, Chaz managed diversity initiatives for the Pittsburgh Pirates, organizing annual events at PNC Park celebrating the Latino and African American communities, raising disability awareness and hosting dental and vision screenings for youngsters. He managed the Pittsburgh chapter of R.B.I. (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), a Major League Baseball initiative with the Boys & Girls Clubs of Western Pennsylvania that gives children the chance to play sports while encouraging them to achieve in school.
“There’s something about sports and kids that is magical,” he says. “You can learn a lot of life lessons when you bring together people with energy and purpose.”
In 2015, Chaz – who uses a wheelchair due to a rare, congenital bone disorder – was tapped to head up the Race & Gender Equity program at the YWCA of Greater Pittsburgh. The YWCA helps women and their families connect to such resources as housing, childcare, legal and financial services and personal and professional development.
“I’m a person of color, I have a physical disability, and I’m a male that works for a women’s agency,” he told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette soon after taking the position. “I’m living proof that with the right environment and the right scenarios that anything is possible, and inclusion is real.”
As for working for an organization focused on women: “Men have to be held accountable and have a unique responsibility to make sure women and others have opportunities. That’s not just in the workplace. It takes all of us to make this happen.”
At the end of the work day, Chaz goes into overtime playing sports, enjoying local museums, eateries, taverns and clubs that feature live, acoustic music. “I tell everyone: ‘After work: don’t go home! Do something. There’s so much to do in Pittsburgh.’”
He's an assistant coach for the Pittsburgh Steelwheelers, a competitive adult wheelchair basketball team that just finished sixth – out of 52 national teams – in its 2016 season. He serves on several nonprofit boards, volunteers his time and expertise with such organizations as the HOPE Network, the Hill House Association, VisitPITTSBURGH and CORO Pittsburgh. He also teaches a marketing course at Seton Hill University in Greensburg, Westmoreland County.