Marla Petti always thought if you give someone the chance to succeed, he or she will. Using this notion, Petti has lived her philanthropic life as a support system for others. 

With her involvement in organizations like HFLA of Northeast Ohio, Jewish Federation of Cleveland and the Cleveland Museum of Art, Petti works to use her financial skills to “contribute to the economic development of the community.”

“(Helping others) is something I enjoy doing,” she said. “There are so many incredible causes and opportunities to help.”

Petti said her involvement in other organizations like the Montefiore Board and the Jewish Federation of Cleveland’s Women’s Philanthropy Division is because she is passionate about the community she lives in and loves. 

“I’m involved with (the Federation) because I am passionate about connecting with women in the Jewish community and being a part of the amazing work that they do,” she said. “At HFLA, we offer deserving people an opportunity that they otherwise wouldn’t have.”

Volunteering and civic engagement in Cleveland weren’t always on Petti’s radar. But now, she finds if everybody contributes what they can, great things can happen in the community she has received much from.

“We could make a big impact collectively,” she said. “I’m motivated by my love of the community and the connection that we have. I feel like it is really a blessing that I am able to give back. I want to add value to whatever organization I am devoting my time and resources to.”

Not only was volunteering in Cleveland not on her radar growing up, but volunteering in general wasn’t something Petti thought about until her kids got older and she had more free time to explore opportunities.

“I wanted to set an example for (my kids) – volunteering is something I get a lot out of as well,” she said. “I enjoy being involved. I’m helping a charity, but the experience is good for me too.”

To inspire others to become involved in the community, she said her best piece of advice would be to tell them to find their passion and go from there.

“If you’re passionate about something, it’s easy to give back,” she said. “Give your time and resources to something you care about.”

And as for what inspired her in the first place to become involved in the community, Petti said, “I think what inspired me was that there is so much opportunity to help people and there are so many great causes. There are just so many ways to go out there and make a difference. I cared about my community, so I just wanted to help.”

– Becky Raspe

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