Aaron D. Marks action shot

As and advocate for the recovery community, Aaron D. Marks is a frequent speaker about recovery.

Aaron, 34, is manager of business development at American Express and advocate for the recovery community of Cleveland. The Cleveland Heights resident wanted to be a rock star when he was growing up, but as he ages, he wants to be the best person he can. He visited Israel while in high school, calling it one of the most beautiful places he’s been too.

What one Jewish experience of yours stands out over others?

I was fortunate enough to work on an initiative to orchestrate special Shabbat services and programming focusing on the opiate crisis. We worked with a number of rabbis throughout the region, and the Jewish Federation of Cleveland to host events over a two week period.

Why did you choose Cleveland?

My wife and I moved here after years of living in Boston. We are consistently amazed by the vibrancy and culture that flows through the city. You can eat incredible food, see world-class musicians perform, spend hours wandering vast parks, go to a sporting event, and so much more. It is a wonderful place to call home.

If you were the mayor of Cleveland, what would be your highest priority?

I would work to increase the population and create more economic opportunity for the existing residents. I would shift the focus toward attracting employers from outside the region, and creating work force training programs to help workers adapt to the changing employment landscape.

What nonprofit organizations do you affiliate with beyond donating? 

I sit in the board of directors for Recovery Resources and Stella Maris. I also am the chair of the Prevention and Education Subcommittee of the U.S. Attorney’s Heroin and Opioid Task Force.

What role does Judaism play in your everyday life?

I tend to lean more to the secular side of the spectrum. To me Judaism is about being a part of a family. There is something special about being able to reflect on what it took for us to get to where we are today, and it binds is together.

What was your first reaction when you learned you were selected as a 12 under 36 honoree?

I was excited and proud to have been recognized. But as I sat with it, I began to think about it differently. In the past people tended to hide things like addiction and mental illness. But this recognition says loud and clear, there is nothing to hide. It is all around us, and it’s okay. People can overcome and go on to do amazing things.

Meet all the honorees

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