“Law school taught me think like a lawyer, which is central to my business and volunteer activities every day. It allows one to see issues before they occur, to consider the legal consequences of any potential decision and how to prevent problems,” said Levy. “I’ve had my share of business failures, but you learn not to get too upset about it. Success is a lousy teacher. We learn from mistakes and that is what makes the successes possible.”
For Mark Levy, (J.D. ’80), discovering what challenged him professionally was an evolutionary process. After graduating from the University of Florida in 1977 with a history degree, he wasn’t sure of his next step. His father, Irwin Levy, an attorney and friend of Nova benefactor, Shepard Broad, learned about the Nova law school and encouraged his son to apply. At the Shepard Broad College of Law, Levy slowly developed into a solid student. It took almost three years before he excelled. Upon graduation, he joined the firm of Levy, Shapiro, Kneer and Kincaid.
For several years, he practiced as a trial attorney, but after four years, “I realized I didn’t’ want to spend the rest of my career fighting with people for a living.” He left the firm in 1984 and invested in a wholesale travel business. “That was a failure, but I learned the importance of understanding accounting and finance and taught myself what I didn’t know. I also learned how to operate a company.”
Levy followed a family tradition of career transformation. In 1969, Levy’s father had shifted his professional focus from law to business and worked with partners to create the Century Village communities for active adults in four locations in Florida. Century Village was unique in offering its residents a variety of activities and entertainment. The recreational facilities are still a part of the family business. Over the years, Levy worked with his father in a variety of business acquisitions and sales such as a cable television company, a medical imaging company, and other real estate developments. Levy thrived on the complexity of the deals, the strategy of negotiations and the intricacies of the contracts. “Banking and finance, tax planning and operational details all have to be thoroughly understood for every deal. Once a deal is completed, management and execution determine success. The best deals are the ones where everyone wins” he said.
In addition, to his demanding business role, Levy also serves as the President of the Jewish Federation of Palm Beach County, “my other full-time job.” Levy is passionate about the work that the Jewish Federation does in his community, around the world and in Israel. “The Federation supports critical human services and programs for Jewish education. I’m proud to contribute to this effort with my time and money. My wife, Stacey, and I believe that being successful gives us a responsibility to help others. It’s important that our family is well and healthy, that the people I work with are happy, and that we continue to provide a quality lifestyle to our Century Village residents. I am happy when I am accomplishing something worthwhile.”