Giving back to the community is an important component of being a true success in the business world. As the greatest minds in history have declared, responsibility is the companion of power and privilege.
Regardless of workloads or fluctuations in the economy, true business leaders — whether they are corporate executives or entrepreneurs — have acted as stewards of their communities. In recent decades, family life has been added to the mix, making the work-life- philanthropic balance even more challenging, especially for women. But it can and is done every day.
Jordan Rose is the founder and president of Rose Law Group pc, the largest law firm in Arizona ever owned by a woman. She is also a mother of two young boys, and for the past 11 years has been an integral member of the American Heart Association’s Arizona Heart Ball Committee.
Rose’s inspiration to pursue law came from her father, also an attorney, who loved going to work every day.
“I never think of it as work,” she says. “I love what I do, it’s the perfect fit for me.”
The perfect fit means having a team that shares her enthusiasm, work ethic and high standards, so Rose can have time for family and charitable pursuits.
“I wake up every day quite grateful that I have others around to help me do all the things I find tremendously rewarding,” Rose says.
What Rose finds rewarding is giving her time and expertise to not-for-profit organizations such as the Arizona American Heart Association, a group that for more than 50 years has been dedicated to fighting heart disease and stroke — and subsequently poured millions of dollars into this community to support life-saving programs.
“My husband’s family has a history of heart disease, and I have a passion for making any small attempt I can at helping support the medical professionals who are currently researching a cure,” she says.
Rose’s legal and business expertise give her the ability to further support this cause by reviewing and restructuring contracts, so the Phoenix Heart Ball can maintain its low cost-to-fundraising ratio, while at the same time limiting any risk or exposure to members and donors. It’s a charity she loves and a business model she admires.
“I think for-profit businesses could learn a lot about motivating people and managing by shadowing the Heart Ball board,” Rose says.
And she has this advice for working moms who also want to serve the community: “Pick a charity that you have a passion for and you will be grateful, as it will make you happy to wake up and be able to give something back.”
Like Rose, Denise Resnik runs her own business. Denise Resnik & Associates is a strategic marketing and public relations firm she started 25 years ago. Also, like Rose, Resnik has a deep, personal connection to a nonprofit, in this case the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC). In 1993, Resnik’s son was diagnosed with autism.
“We were told to love him, accept him and plan to institutionalize him,” Resnik recalls.
Wanting a better life for her son and other children with autism, Resnik used her knowledge and experience as a business owner to find a better outcome.
“I allowed my heart and entrepreneurial spirit be my guide,” she says.
Years later, what started as a mother’s support group is now the 18,000-square-foot Campus for Exceptional Children and a 10,000-square-foot Vocational and Life Skills Academy. Both are focused on advancing research and providing support for thousands of individuals with autism and their families throughout their lifetimes.
“SARRC is another full-time job for me and a major pro bono client for our firm,” Resnik says.
As for finding the work-life balance, Resnik says, “I layer many of my priorities and interests, like creating big ideas and plans, while hiking with friends and colleagues through the Phoenix Mountain Preserve with our son and daughter.”
Her business acumen helped her build SARRC, and in turn SARRC has taught her some valuable business lessons.
“Our board and staff at SARRC lead by example and demonstrate for us all what it takes to make our community a better place, and what businesses and individuals can do to forever impact our community and change lives,” Resnik says, adding that if you’re thinking about volunteering, even if your plate is overflowing, you’ll find a way to make it work.
“The return on your investment will likely exceed your expectations,” she says. “It certainly exceeded mine.”
Michelle Kerrick, managing partner of Deloitte, stands tall alongside Rose and Resnik in terms of the tremendous impact she’s making on the community. She too juggles motherhood, a demanding career and her passion for volunteering.
“My position at Deloitte has a strong market focus, so it can be a win-win-win for me, the firm and the not-for-profit,” she says. “I get the opportunity to meet other key leaders in our community, while also giving back.”
The organization Kerrick “gives so much back to” is Fresh Start Women’s Foundation (FSWF).
“I was inspired by the cause,” Kerrick says. “FSWF is all about women helping women and developing confidence and self-esteem.”
Kerrick knows that financial stewardship is key to success, so it’s no wonder her business, financial and risk management skills benefit a charity like Fresh Start.
“I started my board work with FSWF as the treasurer of the board, held a number of other positions and have also chaired the annual gala fundraiser,” she says. “I believe my background has been particularly helpful in these challenging economic times.”
In turn, her involvement with FSWF has had a tremendous impact on her life.
“When I meet women striving to improve their lives, it makes me more focused to lead a better life and be a better example to my daughter,” Kerrick says.
So although it’s not always easy being the perpetual plate spinner, Kerrick says it’s worthwhile.
“I want to make sure organizations like FSWF are available for the next generation of women.”
Charitable Organization: Phoenix Heart Ball
Favorite Quote: “Bring all your capacities to a situation and stick with it — apply all you’ve got to make fate unfold.” — Jim Balsillie, R.I.M.
Charitable Organization: SARRC/Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center
Favorite Quote: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead
Charitable Organization: Fresh Start Women’s Foundation
Favorite Quote: “Be the change you wish to see in the world.” — Mahatma Ghandi