Lawrence A. Mack realized that when he returned to Cleveland after graduating college and working in New York City for an accounting firm, he wanted to give back to the Jewish community he grew up in. He used his family connections and became involved in Montefiore in the early 1980s, and he’s increased his volunteer work involvement since.
“One of the Jewish values that we have is tikkun olam and I always try to think of how I can follow that value,” Mack said. “I try to bring my expertise and commitment to organizations that are very instilled in me, whether it’s Montefiore who’s really taking care of the elderly, or the JCC, which is really the central community that meets the needs of many community members. It would be where I can add some value and hopefully make lives better for others.”
Mack’s volunteer work includes serving as immediate past board chair and current board member of Montefiore; board member, vice chair and treasurer at the Mandel Jewish Community Center, past board member, current member of the audit committee and chair of the cash committee a part of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland; Federation board representative to Ohio Jewish Communities; board member and b’nai mitzvah usher of The Temple-Tifereth Israel; and board member of the Association of Jewish Aging Services.
Mack’s work with Montefiore has been long and he’s proud of many changes he’s helped contribute to the organization. He helped find the current CEO of Montefiore, Seth Vilensky, after the past CEO stepped away, requiring an in-depth, nationwide search. He also helped forge an associate board about five years ago targeted to younger community members looking to get involved with the Jewish community with a set-up specifically catered to work with a younger audience.
“(Finding Montefiore’s CEO) was a unique experience that not everybody gets the opportunity to do, so that really was important to me,” he said. “It was good for my personal development, but it was also a great way to try to convince people that they should be the CEO, show all the great things that Montefiore does and why this would be an opportunity for them in their career. (The associate board) is hopefully going to be a theater to the bigger board, and we’re trying to meet the needs of millennials and younger people. The group really works well together and it’s really somewhere where young people desire to go. I thought that was a real accomplishment, and it will help maintain the legacy of Montefiore and bring on new and fresh blood, which is what we need.”
His volunteer work has rewarded him with many unexpected gifts, such as seeing his mother stay at Montefiore during the last few years of her life and really see the work Montefiore does firsthand to assist people. He also learned many vital skills throughout his various leadership positions that helped him not only in his professional life but his personal life as well.
“I benefited as much or probably more than the people I was working with just about learning how an organization works,” Mack said. “I’m really well versed in the healthcare industry from my Montefiore experience and I understand the camping experience from the JCC - things that I never would have known or would have been involved with if I hadn’t had these experiences at different agencies. It’s benefited me just to be a member of the community, but it also has benefited me at work too, with leadership and organizational skills. Being the board chair somewhere, there’s a lot of leadership. You really need to learn a lot about people and how to lead, and those things are beneficial to you in other community work and in your professional life as well.”