After their first winning season in 21 years, the Pittsburgh Pirates Baseball team is preparing to return to the diamond for their 2014 season. Their historic 45th training camp started in Bradenton, Fla. Feb. 18 and the first home game is March 31 against the Chicago Cubs.
“Last season, 2013 was a special year, but now it’s time to move toward 2014,” said Frank Coonelly, team president. “Our goal is to add a sixth banner to PNC Park.”
This time of year is also significant to the franchise. It is when the Pirates Diversity Networking Reception is held. “This is a highly anticipated event that brings business and community professionals together to share resources, information, and develop partnerships that will continue to foster growth throughout our region,” said the Pirates manager of diversity initiatives, Chaz Kellem. “It is a time and season to continue building and supporting diversity for the organization.”
On hand sharing their excitement about the upcoming season and to encourage the crowd of more than 150 entrepreneurs, professional and non-profit executives to network and conduct business with one another were County Executive Rich Fitzgerald and Mayor Bill Peduto. “The Pirate Baseball team is very valuable to our region and we are excited about 2014,” remarked the County Executive. Concurring, the Mayor pointed out the significance of doing business with the Pirates and their involvement in the community. “Thank you for being involved and thank you for reaching out into the community,” said Mayor Peduto.
A part of the Pirate organization’s Community Development Department, the Diversity Networking Reception is a component of the Pirates Minority Partnership Program. The organization embraces the concepts of teamwork and partnership in all they do. “As a committed partner with the community in which we reside, we recognize that our success is rooted in its economic, cultural and ethnic diversity,” according to a statement from the team.
The reception is considered a multicultural event that forges new partnerships. The Pirates use it as a vehicle to relay their thanks to the community for their support throughout the year. Pirate management says the organization is committed to diversity in the workforce, in their purchasing, and in their many community activities and events.
“We are committed to continuing the theme to provide a central platform for diverse and minority business professional’s to converge to exchange ideas. Diversity is part of our everyday lives and we hope to help make Pittsburgh a successful and better place to not only work in but to live in as well.”
Other Minority Partnership programs include utilization of Minority Women Business Enterprises who offer high-quality, cost-competitive goods and services, minority outreach events, the African American Heritage Celebration at PNC Park, the Jackie Robinson Essay and Poetry Contest, the Community Champion Awards, Negro League Baseball in Pittsburgh at PNC Park’s Highmark Legacy Square and the Latino Reception.
“Community relations and diversity is important to the Pirates organization,” Kellem pointed out. Within his nine-year tenure with the Pirates he says it has been important to the organization to be in the forefront and involved within the total community.
Kellem’s duties as manager of diversity initiatives entail responsibility for managing the ball club’s interaction with various minority constituencies. A primary focus, he says is the development and engagement of targeted minority communities in various opportunities that will increase minority participation within the organization.
Able to give his all to his job and understanding the significance of diversity and inclusion, Kellem who was diagnosed with a rare bone disorder at birth knows what discrimination is like. Not letting his disability or the use of a wheel chair limit or define his life or activities, in his upbeat demeanor he emphases, “I love diversity and as I live it, enjoy it, and learn from it, I understand it.”
With the 2014 Pirate training camp underway, Kellem and Coonelly are expecting and excited about a fun-filled summer. Coming off a 94-68 season, Coonelly said the team and coaches are a special group of men. He pointed out that the fans are great and that it is an honor to be a part of the community.