When Valley resident Stan Levine received a call from Rabbi Jordan Brumer inviting him to talk to a group of students from Jewish Arizonans on Campus (JAC), he agreed to share his vast business knowledge and experience. Levine is the retired chairman and CEO of International Coating and Chemical Co. Inc. and a member of at least 14 organization’s boards. JAC will honor Stan and his wife, Tochia, Wednesday, Feb. 12, at a comedy night featuring comedian Joel Chasnoff (see details box).
Brumer gathered about 40 Arizona State University students who participate in JAC for a roundtable discussion with Levine. Their primary concern, Levine says, is that even with the education and the degrees they’re receiving, they don’t know how to face the world outside their university cocoon. They don’t want to fail, he says. And, they don’t know what to expect.
Levine’s advice to them is simple. “When you get out there, there’s one thing you’ve got to do otherwise you’ll never be successful. You’ve got to fail. Without failure, you can’t be successful. You’re going to fail and then you’ll stand up and dust yourself off and keep going and fail again. You’ll do that three or four times and the fourth time you’ll say, ‘Now I get it.’ ”
The students enjoyed Levine’s discussion so much that they asked him to come back, which he has done three or four times. “I feel that at my age, if I can impart some wisdom of any kind to these young kids, that’s wonderful,” he says. “I wish I had that when I was young.”
While talking to the students, Levine tries to help them build confidence. “You can’t do anything unless you feel good about yourself,” he says. Most importantly, you have to respect yourself and have integrity. Without integrity you can’t do much of anything.” He also stresses to the students that they must develop good interpersonal relationship skills to bring to the workplace.
Stan and Tochia Levine, who moved to the Valley more than 30 years ago from Connecticut, devote much of their time to philanthropic work in the community. A few highlights from the lengthy list of their charitable endeavors: Stan is a past president of the American Jewish Committee, has served on the boards of the Anti-Defamation League, The American Red Cross, The Boy Scouts and was instrumental in bringing a chapter of the Jewish fraternity Sigma Alpha Mu to ASU. Tochia volunteers with Gabriel’s Angels, the Phoenix Art Museum and the Phoenix Symphony. Both were instrumental in the creation of ASU’s President’s Club.
Recently, the Levines established the Levine Family Scholarship Fund that will provide scholarships to JAC student leaders at ASU.
Brumer is grateful for the Levines’ generosity. “Stan and Tochia are exceptionally generous people, not only with their resources but their time as well. Stan has spent many hours providing guidance to me and the JAC staff. He has lectured on numerous occasions to our students and has really inspired many of them to give back to their communities after they graduate,” Brumer wrote in an email.
Raised as a Conservative and then Reform Jew, Levine says he learned the value of hard work from his Russian immigrant parents, who met in Boston while going to night school to learn English. “They came here for one reason: opportunity,” he says. His father worked two jobs “while people were jumping out of windows in 1929.”
During his next visit with JAC students, Levine plans to discuss ways to thwart bullying. He’s also developing an idea that would bring in past presidents of major corporations who now live in the Valley to speak to the students and “impart some of their wisdom.” “My wife will say, ‘you’re raising your hand again. You haven’t learned to say no.’ But if it’s to help these kids, I want to do it.”
Who: Jewish Arizonans on Campus
What: Comedy night with comedian Joel Chasnoff honoring Stan and Tochia Levine
When: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 12
Where: Hilton Resort Scottsdale, 6333 N. Scottsdale Road
Cost: $54; $25 students
Register: 480-390-6173 or myjac.org