Kelvin Joseph was a 16-year-old Walt Whitman High School athlete when Derek Jeter made his major league debut for the New York Yankees in 1995. Joseph watched in awe as the shortstop became one of the best players of his generation, raking in World Series rings and earning the adoration of players and sports fans like himself.
When Joseph was a Huntington teen, Jeter was just a legend in the making. Joseph could not have anticipated that by age 35, he would be planning a farewell luncheon for the Yankee captain as well as know the perennial All-Star on a personal level. But Joseph’s role as the COO and executive vice president of sales at Steiner Sports Marketing & Memorabilia has made it all part of a day at the office.
Joseph’s interest in both sports and marketing was born in the halls of Walt Whitman, where he was an all-county wrestler, volleyball player and student government leader.
He also liked to wear a suit, even as a teenager. He was fascinated by Wall Street icon Gordon Gekko, thinking he wanted to be an investment banker—until he visited the New York Stock Exchange on a field trip, that is.
“Everyone was stressed out and balding,” he said with a laugh. “I was told accounting was the language of business, but I never thought of becoming an accountant. I do a lot of things now, like sales and marketing, but my accounting class in high school allowed me to build a foundation.”
Joseph’s pursuit of a college degree and a career in business did not stop him from hitting the gym—he was even a featured News12 scholar athlete. And when he watched television, it was usually sports—especially the New York Knicks. Today, a photo of Joseph with Hall of Famer Patrick Ewing, taken at a Steiner event, sits in his office. “The reason that was so special to me had nothing to do with the fact that he was a great Knick and great guy, which he was,” Joseph said. “It took me back to being a teenage guy trying to find his way.”
After graduating from Walt Whitman in 1997, Joseph studied public accounting at Pace, obtaining his BBA in 2001. But even before he graduated, while he was still 19, he began a 7-year stint at Ernst & Young. Joseph credits INROADS—a nonprofit assisting businesses in gaining greater access to ethnically diverse talent—for the opportunity that paved the way for Steiner to welcome him as CFO in 2009. Now that he is COO, Joseph said he is able to do more for companies expanding their businesses by having an athlete attend an event, as well as charities that raise funds by selling signed items or helping plan events that become experiences attendees rank as top moments in their lives.
“Everyone has some kind of connection to sports,” he said. “If it is their dream to meet Derek Jeter, and I can make that dream come true, that is very powerful.”