Alan Rubin Interview with Marcia Walsh August 29, 2018
Q: Where did you grow up?

I was born in and grew up in the Sloan’s Lake neighborhood on the west side ofDenver. Most of my grade school classmates were children of holocaust survivors and it was a very tight knit community. My father and uncle were the sole members of their family to escape a small town in Poland the week before the Nazis invaded. They spent the war in a Russian labor camp before ending up in a displaced persons camp in Italy. There, they met cousins whom they didn’t even know they had who connected with more cousins in Paris. The Parisian cousins knew of family in Denver, and it was the Pluss family that sponsored all six of them to come to the US on Thanksgiving 1946. 
    My maternal grandfather fled Odessa to avoid being conscripted into the Russian army for a third time and moved to the United States with his family and became a shoemaker in Victor CO, eventually bringing over his wife and first three children to Victor.  Shortly after, my mother’s family moved to the Platte Valley in Denver, where the Auraria campus is now, and my uncle and mother were born shortly thereafter.  My parents met on a blind date arranged by my father’s cousins, and I grew up in a very European household.  Our social life revolved around my mother’s family. We were active in the synagogue and kept a kosher home. I had a great childhood. My parents were serious people but both had a great sense of humor.   My father was a wonderful storyteller and my mother loved puns. My father ran a dry-cleaning plant where I worked without pay (well, I did get housed, fed, and my own TV) for 5 years. He was scrupulously honest and treated his workers well regardless of race or inclination.
    I had one younger brother, Dan.  Dan and I were very different. While he was introverted and studious, I was outgoing. Thanks to my 8th grade music teacher and my HS junior English teacher, I discovered my love of music and my love of Shakespeare and the stage.  Sadly, my brother suffered from early onset Alzheimer’s and passed away.
    Q: Did you play sports?
    Does Cub Scout softball count?  Mostly, no. At North High School, I was a debate geek and especially enjoyed extemporaneous speaking competitions. My senior year I played Shem in a production of Noah and I was the understudy for Harold Hill in, and the assistant director of, The Music Man.
    Q: Tell us about your education.
    I was provisionally accepted at my first-choice school, Pomona in California, but finances dictated that I attend CU instead. I had the best college experience there with great professors and intellectual challenges. I was a communications major and was one of the first students to study biopsychology. I played bridge most lunch times with my advisor, the department chair, and his TA. Although my parents were willing to pay for college, I preferred to be independent. My junior and senior years I was a resident dorm advisor which taught me responsibility while also providing me with free room and board.
    Q: Tell me about your work experiences.
    I started working at May D & F as a sales person originally in furniture and later in major appliances. I did very well there and, following my father’s teachings about saving, I graduated with over $15K in the bank! After college, I became the director of the sales training department.  From there I moved on to Fashion Bar in sales, worked my way through store management, and later became the assistant buyer for kitchen, gourmet and housewares. One day I was driving by the Mountain Bell building and decided to apply for a sales position there, because it paid better than being in retail.  With the typical speed and agility of the phone company, one year later, they hired me as an account executive.  From there, I went into technical support and then on to executive education, once again in training!   In 1994, I went to work for a technical training company, traveling to various cities teaching engineers, marketers, and sales people about various telecommunications technologies that were emerging then.  This change in jobs found me flying around the country, often with a plane change in Denver. My wife and I decided to leave the Bay Area and move back to Denver, where my family was and one of Cheri’s brothers as well.  I thought living in Boulder would be fun, but Cheri had different ideas, and we ended up in the house we live in now by the Chief Hosa campground.  Although in the beginning it wasn’t my first choice, I discovered, as I often do, that Cheri was right, and we love living in the house she picked out 20-some years ago. 
    I worked for the training company through the telecommunications crash, then started my own consulting and training firm, Useful Knowledge, in 2005.  That worked out well until my major client, Nortel, went under, and in 2010 I decided to go back to work for Mountain Bell, which was now called CenturyLink.  I loved my time there as a sales trainer and eventually Senior Manager of Learning and Development, until a reorganization made the job somewhat unpleasant. In 2016 I was part of a reduction in force and found myself involuntarily retired.  That was somewhat distressing until, at the advice of one of Cheri’s Michigan friends, I read a book entitled “Don’t Retire, Rewire”. It helped me understand how much I love to learn new things, and how rewarding I find helping others.  Realizing that my passion is still for music and the theater, I joined the Evergreen Chorale, am a member of their Board, and am taking voice and acting lessons. I joined Rotary because I wanted to find ways to help others, not to mention the fact that I really enjoy spending time with this goofy gang of people.  Now I find I am overcommitted to the extent that I don’t even have enough time to watch the TV shows I would like to!
    Q: Tell us about your family
    My wife, Cheri is an analytical, strong willed, methodical, strong willed, brilliant, strong willed woman originally from the Detroit area.  Did I mention she was strong willed? I met her on a mission trip to Israel where I had gone with my father and brother a few weeks after I was separated from my previous wife.  I was in no mood to start dating again, but sometimes, the universe does a great job of telling you something.  At the time we met, I was living in San Francisco and Cheri was living in Oakland.  I doubt we would have met had we not been on that same Federation mission trip in 1992.   We were married in 1994 at the Hebrew Educational Alliance by my favorite rabbi.  Ours was the last marriage Rabbi Goldberger performed before he retired, and ours was the last wedding in the synagogue before they moved to a new building in southeast Denver.  We chose to be married in Denver because my mom was too ill to travel to Oakland. We have one daughter, Francesca, who was named after her great grandmother Frances. She is currently a communications major at CU with a minor in conversational Hebrew and is a phenomenal jazz singer.   She and her mother are two of my most favorite people.
    Q: What do you do in your spare time?
    I am a closet computer geek. I like to cook and am a competent grill master.  I am a member of the Board of both the Evergreen Rotary Club and Ovation West, formerly known as the Evergreen Chorale.  I also teach the 6th and 7th grade class of the religious school at Congregation Beth Evergreen.  I’m active in select political campaigns where I support the candidate.  I’ve been known to play golf.  Badly.  Very badly.
    Q: Define yourself as a pair of shoes
    Penny loafers. They are casual but dressy enough.
    Q: What led you to Rotary?
    Russell Hammond encouraged me to come.  Our club accepts you for who you are and allows all of us to enjoy a fundamental sense of trust with each other. I want to use my skills as a social scientist to make Rotary work well which is why I agreed to be on the Board. I enjoy learning new things and helping others.
    Q: What words of wisdom do you have?
    Rabbi Hillel, an 11th Century scholar, said:  If I am not for myself, who will be for me?  But if I am not for others, what am I?  And if not now, when?
    Personal motto:  There are 2 things you should not take seriously:
    1.  yourself
    2.  everything else.