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Mountain States Spotlight with Regional Board Member Mark Arlen

  • December 8, 2016



Anti-Defamation League Mountain States Regional Board Member Mark Arlen shares how a chance meeting at the gym sparked an interest in ADL that has become a passion.


How did you first become involved in ADL? How are you involved now?

Believe it or not, I was working out one morning at Greenwood Athletic Club and had become friendly, unbeknownst to me, with long-time ADL board member Dave Ikovic. In the locker room, Dave introduced me to Regional Director Scott Levin and suggested we have lunch so that I could learn more about ADL.

We had lunch and several weeks later my youngest son, who was at Cherry Creek High School and playing on the freshman lacrosse team, alerted my wife and me to several anti-Semitic incidents and comments that were being made on a regular basis during practices. It was a godsend that I had met with Dave and Scott a few weeks earlier. Had it happened before becoming aware of ADL, I would not have known who to turn to for help and advice on handling the situation. Sure enough with ADL’s guidance, we were in front of Cherry Creek High Schools’ top administrators and within a short time the seven or eight kids directly involved in anti-Semitic actions were suspended and 15 others were reprimanded. It turned out it was quite a large problem that had carried over into many activities at the school. Unfortunately, it put my son in a difficult situation since he exposed the problem. It caused him some very challenging times as a result of the backlash he received from those reprimanded. He will be forever stronger from this incident and no doubt he prevented others from further torment.

Now, due to my financial background, I’m involved with the development committee. I have also observed law enforcement training sessions and have assisted with event planning.


What do you do in your professional life?

I’m a Certified Financial Planner and have had my own practice for 35 years doing estate, business and investment planning for established families.


When you were a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?

My father was a long-time prominent psychiatrist in Cleveland, Ohio where I grew up.  I wanted to be like him but liked business as well so I thought my perfect occupation would be to combine the two as an industrial psychologist. However, during my freshman year as an undergraduate, I volunteered to assist some graduate students in the Industrial Psychology program with various projects. They were way too introspective and deliberate for me, and so I was cured of psychology and headed for business school!


Where were you born? From where do your ancestors hail?

I was born in Cincinnati, Ohio. My mother also grew up there, and married my dad while he was a resident at Cincinnati General Hospital. They moved to Cleveland where I grew up shortly after I was born.

My ancestors hail from England and Russia.


What’s your favorite holiday?

Rosh Hashanah.  I like the idea of rebooting my life each year and taking time to reflect on the past year, and thinking about which direction I want to go in the coming year. Getting family and friends together to celebrate the New Year with great food to boot doesn’t hurt!


What’s your favorite food?

Shish kabab, farfel and moist, chewy chocolate brownies. Those three are tied with a combination corned beef and pastrami sandwich from Carnegie Deli, may they rest in peace after December 31, 2016 as they are permanently closing their doors.


What are you reading?

 QB: My Life Behind the Spiral by Steve Young, the former NFL quarterback.


What’s a special place you have visited?

Tahiti; it’s the closest place to paradise I’ve been to.  Queensland, New Zealand takes a close second as the adventure capital of the world.


What’s one thing every person should know or experience?

Having a life partner who is your ultimate best friend.


What teacher or class stands out to you the most in your education and why?

Introduction to Finance at the Indiana University School of Business. It just clicked for me, and showed me how practical and life changing being an expert in the field of finance could be for me as well as for helping others. It gave me a career direction that I still enjoy to this day.


What are you passionate about personally? What can’t you stop talking about?

Having a genuine interest in others and understanding how you can learn so much from what those individuals you meet throughout your lifetime know through their unique experiences. If you had not shown an interest in them and only talked about yourself when interacting with them, you would never have learned.

I also can’t stop talking about the poor moves I have made this season managing my Fantasy Football Team that may end up costing me from hitting the jackpot and winning my league!


Where can we find you when you’re not working?

Spending time hanging out with my wife Patty, jogging, on the tennis court or watching football!


What would be impossible for you to give up?

My family and friends.


If you had to teach something, what would you teach?

How to improve the quality of your life by having a genuine interest in others.


Tell me a story that immediately pops into your mind that was a defining or significant moment for you.

Attending a three-hour session one afternoon to hear a speaker at one of the first financial planning conferences I attended when I started working for my present company, Lincoln Financial Advisors. I was dreading listening to one speaker I had never heard of, especially for three hours right after lunch. It turned out to be life changing. He was the most impactful speaker I’ve ever heard. He changed the way I approach my business to this day. I am forever grateful as I’ve been able to make a significant impact on my clients’ lives in a way I don’t think I would have had I not attended his session. To this day I never miss an opportunity to hear him speak.


Why do you choose to make a financial investment in ADL?

It’s an organization that fills an invaluable need for the Jewish community and any group that is not treated fairly and needs an organization to turn to besides law enforcement for help.  I am forever a believer in the function and value to our community the ADL provides. Without their services who else could we turn to?


Complete this sentence: For me, the ADL is …

An organization that gives me the tools and resources to confidently stand up to anti-Semitism and injustice.