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February 18, 1994 - Image 111

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1994-02-18

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.


ost Detroi-
ters recog-
nize Florine
Mark Ross
as a weight-
loss guru,
the president and chairman of
the board of Weight Watchers.
Most also know that when
Ms. Mark Ross isn't discussing
fat content and the benefits of
exercise, she is busy keeping a
delicate balance between her
professional and personal life.
Add to the list of responsi-
bilities: active, devoted volun-
Ms. Mark Ross is among a
small group of attorneys, ac-
countants and entrepreneurs
who always seem to find time
to devote to a cause.
How? It's not a big secret,
says Robert Naftaly, a Blue
Cross-Blue Shield executive
who constantly is on the run be-
tween a hectic work schedule
and his many community/po-
litical activities.
Mr. Naftaly, who volunteers
for the Anti-Defamation
League, the Jewish Home For
Aged, the Jewish Federation
and a host of other communi-
ty and political organizations,
attributes his ability to keep a
busy lifestyle to the help of a
good support staff.
Mr. Naftaly's secretary takes
care of time-consuming details.
Each day, he receives a card
from his administrative assis-
tant, providing a list of ap-
pointments. He returns phone
calls between meetings or from
his car. He doesn't waste time.
He gets right to the point. Oth-
erwise, he wouldn't be able to
take part in community service.
"When I was a public ac-
countant, my partners knew
my volunteer work was part of
my soul. This company believes
in community service, so they
view this as part of my job," Mr.
Naftaly says.
For Mark Schlussel, who de-
voted at least 35 hours a week
to the Jewish Federation as im-
mediate past president, the bal-
ancing act wasn't always an
easy one. Mr. Schlussel said
at times the work of the Jewish
community had to come before
his own business. Still, he be-
lieves he made the right deci-
The ability to prioritize and
organize are key, he said.
"We all work hard, and
sometimes we need to get away

from what we do for awhile,"
Mr. Schlussel said. "I've re-
focused on the practice of
law and other activities.
I have renewed energy
rather than burnout.
It's satisfying to be back and I
believe my clients are now the
Mr. Schlussel no longer runs
his own law practice, which dis-
banded a few years ago. After
the firm split up, Mr. Schlussel
joined Miller, Canfield, Paddock
and Stone.
Now that his Federation pres-
idency is over, Mr. Schlussel has
time again to study regularly
with a rabbi. His community
work is focused on Federation's
Elder Care Options Committee,
investigating future options for
Detroit's elderly.
"Life has its phases. My pres-
idency felt like a sabbatical
from my law career, but I've re-
turned with a new sense of vig-
or," Mr. Schlussel says. "Any
time involvement will involve
some sacrifice. rve had this dis-

At right, Florine Mark Ross.
Below, Robert Aronson.

Community leaders
mix work and
volunteer roles.


Above, Mark Schlussel.
At right, Robert Naftaly.

cussion often. The rewards
were well worth the price, but
a price was paid."
Bob Aronson, executive
vice president of the Jewish
Federation of Metropolitan
Detroit, knows firsthand how
important it is to have a
healthy balance of time for
volunteerism and profes-
sional work.
Mr. Aronson works with a
host of volunteers and believes
choices and priorities play heav-

ily into the equation for success
in professional and communal
'The really successful people
are busy everywhere. I rarely
hear, 'Sure, I have plenty of
time for volunteer work.' i'm not
saying it's easy. There are those
who miss business meetings,
those who miss volunteer meet-
ings, and those who don't miss
a thing," Mr. Aronson says.
"The people who do it well have
the ability to stretch a day, to
focus on more than one thing at
once and to organize," Mr.
Aronson says. "A supportive
family helps, too."
Business values work well in
the volunteer world.
`Track down what you want,
ask questions, and go for it.

These people don't wait to be
called, don't have time to
shmooze. If a meeting is called
for 4 p.m., it begins at 4 p.m. If
it's slated to end at 5 p.m. it
does," Mr. Aronson said. "What
takes the longest is the selling
of ideas. In the volunteer world,
decision is made by consensus,
not by power alone. That is
what takes so long."
Ms. Mark Ross understands
that. She's been involved in
community work at some level
as long as she can remember.
As a child, she watched her
grandmother stand outside a
bakery and collect money for Is-
rael. At home, grandmother
urged the children to put a few
pennies each day in the
tzedakah box.
Ms. Mark Ross remembers
scholarships to camp and the
March of Dimes helping sup-
port her family for three years
while her sister was hospital-
ized with polio.
As a young mother, Ms.
Mark Ross made contributions
and walked for the March of
Dimes to raise money. She also
was beginning a new career
and driving carpools.
After building the business
of Weight Watchers for 27 years
and raising five children, Ms.
Mark Ross is able to devote be-
tween eight and 10 hours a
week to causes like Hospice,
Boy Scouts of America and Jew-
ish Federation. She is co-chair-
man of Federation's 1994 Allied
Jewish Campaign.
"I feel part of my job as a suc-
cessful businesswoman is to be
a leader, to show it can be done
and to give something back,"
Ms. Mark Ross said. "At times,
it's hard to juggle."


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