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Staff Bios and Contact Information

The Office of the Chaplain
The Locust House
3643 Locust Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104

Phone: 215-898-8456
Fax: 215-573-4895

Rev. Charles L. Howard, Ph.D
University Chaplain

The Reverend Charles L. Howard, PhD is the University Chaplain at the University of Pennsylvania, his alma mater.  Prior to his return to Penn he served in hospital and hospice chaplaincies and as a street outreach worker for a local homelessness service agency. 

Journeying with the students, faculty and staff of Penn has been one of the great joys of his vocational life.  He is thankful to have many opportunities to connect with others through preaching, guest lecturing, and through writing. He is the author of several articles and chapters and his writings have been featured in such publications as Black Arts Quarterly, Black Theology: An International Journal, Daily Good, Urban Cusp, Sojourners Magazine, and The Huffington Post, where he is a regular contributor.  Along with his duties as Chaplain, Chaz has taught in the College of Arts and Sciences and in the Graduate School of Education at Penn, as well as at The Lutheran Theological Seminary of Philadelphia.  A son of Baltimore, MD he considers himself a God-son of Philly where he lives with his wife and best friend, Dr. Lia C. Howard and his two daughters.


Steve Kocher
Associate Chaplain

Steve joined the Office of the Chaplain at Penn in the fall of 2008 with ten years of experience in church ministry.  Through his years of church work he has provided leadership for Sunday worship services, concerts, conferences and other special events, as well as a wide variety of community service projects and education programs. Steve was born in England and is unreasonably passionate about English cricket and soccer. He moved to Philly as a kid and is thrilled to be working and living here with his wife, son and daughter.

In addition to supporting the programs and work of the Office of the Chaplain, Steve also serves as Coordinator of the CHORDS network - a partnership connecting Penn with its neighbors, emphasizing work with local faith communities, schools and other neighborhood organizations - and co-instructor for iBelieve, Penn's first academic interfaith dialogue and action course.


Mary O’Rourke LeCates
Office Manager and Special Events Coordinator


Shameem Balakrishnan
Interfaith Fellow & Campus Minister to the Hindu Community

Shameem is a new member to the Office of the Chaplain joining us in 2012 as an Interfaith Fellow and working as the Hindu Campus Minister. She received her Bachelor's degree from Penn's School of Nursing and has returned to Penn this fall of 2012 for graduate studies (she just couldn't stay away!). She is in the Graduate School of Education's Counseling and Mental Health Services program and hopes to be a school counselor, ultimately.

Born and raised in Columbus, OH to Hindu parents who immigrated from India in the early 80s, Shameem was raised with much more of an emphasis on spirituality than ritualism - an upbringing for which she is very grateful. Her basic life philosophy is to live to the best of her ability following two main principles: Ahimsa (Sanskrit for "non-violence") and Dharma (Sanskrit for "righteousness"). She is an avid reader of a wide variety of subjects. Her major hobby is singing, and she is a member of Penn's all-female South Asian Acappella group, Atma.  Shameem is so excited to join the staff of the Office of the Chaplain and is looking forward to the experiences it will bring her over the course of the next two years.


Kameelah Mu’Min Rashad, M.Ed, MRPYC
Interfaith Fellow & Campus Minister to the Muslim Community

Kameelah Mu’Min Rashad joined the Office of the Chaplain in January 2013 and is thrilled to be back at her alma mater, serving the Muslim community on campus. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Psychology (CAS’ 00) and M.Ed in Psychology Services (GSE ’01). She has also pursued further graduate education, completing a post-Masters certificate in Family Therapy and obtaining a second Masters in Restorative Practices and Youth Counseling. Kameelah has gained extensive clinical and program development experience in the behavioral health field and most recently served as the Manager for Community Development for Philadelphia’s Department of Behavioral Health & Intellectual Disability Services (DBHIDS).

Kameelah is the Founder of Muslim Wellness Foundation, Inc., an organization dedicated to reducing stigma and raising awareness regarding the unique behavioral health needs and concerns of American Muslims stemming from trauma, addiction and mental illness. As Chaplain, Kameelah plans to focus on mental health, faith and diversity on campus, as well as building strong relationships with the wider Philadelphia community.

Kameelah was born and raised in Brooklyn, NY and currently resides in the Philadelphia area with her husband Qasim Rashad, Amir of United Muslim Masjid in South Philadelphia, her two children Laila and Bilal and three stepchildren Hakim, Layla and Sanaa.