Born, raised and educated in Los Angeles, Carin Kellzi, the current co-chair of AGBU Young Professionals of LA (YPLA), is a senior consultant at Deloitte, a multi-national professional services network and one of the “big four” accounting firms. She specializes in Strategy and Technology for Life Sciences and Healthcare Practice, an expertise she developed in previous roles in the private and public healthcare systems. In addition to her impressive resume, Kellzi belongs to that exclusive club of life-long AGBUers, whose roots go back to grand-parents who instilled in her a giving back mentality. This was reflected in her two-time participation in the AGBU Global Leadership Program (GLP). Those experiences prepared her to take on leadership roles in YPLA and face the challenges of the coronavirus pandemic.
YPLA is collaborating with the chapters to help out with this pandemic. With our diverse members, we have so many incredible ideas. It gives us a chance to be part of the larger AGBU mission.
How has YPLA evolved since its launch over two decades ago? For one thing, 2020 marks YPLA’s 25th anniversary, and we were really excited about launching a robust campaign bridging the past and the present. Unfortunately, due to COVID, these plans have been modified. But aside from that, YPLA was already undergoing growth. A few years ago, our board was made up of up to five members, but since I became co-chair, we have over 16 members on our committee. Now we have both an executive committee plus a subcommittee to help reach out to the community with social and professional networking events that give young Armenians the space to connect and keep our traditions alive. In that sense, it’s similar to the past 25 years. We were also eager to introduce our new committee members to the global family that is our YP network of 43 groups. The pandemic actually facilitated that because we had to shift our platform to a virtual space.
How has YPLA adapted to the sudden changes brought about by the pandemic? We’ve never felt more connected to AGBU than this year. Before, I would have to engage with our worldwide network by physically traveling to a FOCUS summit or to those cities I wanted to visit on my own. If I were going to Spain, I would reach out to YP Madrid, if Paris, I would look up the local YP. But with Zoom and other virtual capabilities, our YPs in LA can engage from anywhere, in real time, face to face, with counterparts as far as South Korea and Brazil. We kept seeing the same people returning to these YP Live events, so I couldn’t be prouder of what we accomplished in record time since last March.
How do these instant global connections impact YPLA’s core activities? Earlier this year, we wanted to focus more on professional events, as well as mentorships to provide guidance. When COVID-19 hit, we quickly worked to connect them to some skill-building and social-bonding experiences online. With that success, we added the fundraising aspect. Naturally, the pandemic crisis was the obvious cause, so we created online events with a very modest admission fee that went directly to the AGBU Humanitarian Relief Fund. So all three areas are still in effect—the social, the professional and the philanthropic.
How have your efforts in community building been impacted by this new normal? YPLA is collaborating with the chapters to help out with this pandemic. With our diverse members, we have so many incredible ideas. It gives us a chance to be part of the larger AGBU mission. Everyone comes together in collaboration, locally and globally. It’s community building at its best.
How do you see YPLA in the larger AGBU context? We want to help all AGBU initiatives in Southern California, working closely with the Asbeds, with GenNext, and so on. We also want to bridge any gaps in involvement so that people can give back at each stage of their lives. We want to make sure that we don’t get stuck in the old ways but bring new, innova-tive ideas to the organization. This will ensure that AGBU is relevant in every generation.
Banner Illustration by Luis Tinoco