Joe Graff Connects with F4MMC

For Joe Graff, life is all about making connections. In fact, he helped so many friends, relatives and colleagues find jobs over the years, that he lost count long ago.

“My wife, Diane, says I should have been a head hunter because I’d be rich with all the jobs I’ve gotten for people,” says Mr. Graff, a two-term trustee for the Foundation for Morristown Medical Center. “I’ve always gone out of my way to help people, and if I can’t help somebody, I look for a way to refer them. It’s all about networking.”
In his own career, a love of numbers led him to earn a master’s degree in taxation and added up to more than 37 years at Ross, Rosenthal & Company, LLP, in Morristown, first as a certified public accountant and more recently, managing partner. His longevity there can be traced back to the personal relationships he developed with his clients.

“Our firm focuses on privately owned businesses and high net-worth families, so there’s a lot of personal involvement,” he says. “I can make a meaningful difference in their lives over time because I become a trusted advisor. It’s quite a special relationship.”

It was through the recommendation of one such client – the Goryeb family, longtime Morristown Medical Center philanthropists – that linked him with the hospital. As treasurer of the Foundation’s board and chair of its financial oversight committee, Mr. Graff lends his expertise about financial accounting and reporting issues. The relationship has been win-win for both sides.

“Working with the Foundation is incredibly rewarding because of the people I come in contact with, whether it’s my co-trustees, Foundation staff members or the physicians and nurses,” he says. “They’re all incredibly passionate about making Morristown Medical Center as good as it can be. I’ve become a strong advocate for the hospital and have referred family members and friends to specialists.”

But his commitment to the hospital goes way beyond his volunteer work. Both Mr. Graff and his firm have donated generously as well. “I believe in the hospital,” he says. “My financial commitment dovetails with my personal commitment through my board service. It goes hand in hand. If you feel strongly enough about something, you ought to be willing to open your wallet and support it financially.”

Mr. Graff’s strong loyalty also extends to the roots he planted in his hometown. A lifelong Nutley resident, he met his wife in the Nutley High cafeteria. Taken by her smile, he asked if he could borrow a pen. It worked like a charm. They’ve been married for 42 years and raised three children together. Recently, their daughter, Christina, moved next door with her family. “My grandkids are right across the driveway, and that’s pretty special,” he says, adding that his grandson, James, now attends the same school where Mr. Graff and his three children went to kindergarten.

During a recent family vacation at the Jersey shore, Mr. Graff taught his grandchildren how to crab at the end of the dock and surf fish from the beach, just like his dad taught him. It’s these connections he cherishes most of all.

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