Giving Back: Looking Forward
It was love at first sight for the 18- and 20-year-old
college students who met on a blind date at a dance in Cambridge in 1960,
recalls Joyce Mandell. They married two years later, and the result has been a
successful and love-filled, 50-year partnership in business, family and
And small wonder: Both were the oldest of three children, so
they had that “oldest child” personality in common. Both grew up in loving and
close-knit families in quiet suburban communities. Both came from families with
entrepreneurial spirits: Joyce’s father owned a lithography business in
Manhattan; Andy’s father was a proprietor of a grocery store in Newington Center.
And they both had salesmanship in their blood: Joyce’s first job was in sales
in a dress shop on Long Island; Andy consistently led his high school’s
fund raising magazine sales, and during college he managed his own bartending
and tuxedo rental service.
Knowing they wanted a small-town culture after their
marriage, they settled in Newington. Andy began his career as a regional sales representative
for Addressograph-Multigraph, a Cleveland-based addressing and mailing
equipment manufacturer. After 9 years of stellar ascent through their ranks,
Andy and Joyce decided to tap their entrepreneurial roots by creating
Data-Mail, Inc., in 1971. Starting with one full-time and one part-time employee,
today their leading-edge direct mail production company has over 1,000
employees at its Newington and Windsor plants, where they produce more than 6
million pieces of mail per day.
The Mandells trace their success to their upbringings, and
particularly to the family cultures that embraced them. “We fell in love with a lifestyle of community
involvement. It was a seamless, subconscious transition from our immediate families
to the larger family that was our community. And it has always felt good,”
Joyce explains in recounting the philanthropic path that she and Andy have
taken in their lives.
They also trace their interests in philanthropy to their
Jewish heritage. “You cannot grow up Jewish without a respect for life – and a
sense that you have an obligation to give back,” explains Andy.
The philanthropic pursuits of the Mandells have touched many institutions during the past three decades: Babson College, the Boys and Girls
Club of Hartford, the Hartford Arts Council, the Mandell Jewish Community
Center, the Multiple Sclerosis Society, Andy's role as a Trustee of the Connecticut Science Center, and Joyce’s role as a board member of
Saint Francis Care, where they recently helped launch a new research
initiative. “This was a happy coincidence,” explains Joyce. “Our support of the
MS Society, and a new MS research and treatment center at the Mount Sinai
Rehabilitation Hospital, based on the north campus of Saint Francis, combined
to create a dynamic new opportunity.” That opportunity now proudly bears the
name The Joyce D. and Andrew J. Mandell Center for Comprehensive Multiple
Sclerosis Care and Neuroscience Research.
Perhaps the most meaningful commitment for Joyce and Andy
had a completely serendipitous start. The Joyce D. and Andrew J. Mandell Family
Foundation was started in 1984 after they won a new car with a $100 raffle
ticket from a local charity. They were offered the option to take the cash
instead of the car – and decided to create a foundation. “Opportunities come
along all the time. It’s what you do with them that counts,” contends Joyce, the Foundation’s President. They immediately invited their three children –
Bruce, Mark and Meryl – who were in their teens and pre-teens at the time, to
become directors of the Foundation. “We wanted to share with our children the
wonderful culture of community involvement that has so enriched our lives.
Offering our children decision-making roles for the family Foundation seemed
like a good way to foster this legacy,” explains Joyce. Now that the children
are married, they are all involved in the Foundation as financial contributors
and decision makers.
Thanks to Joyce and Andy’s foresight and vision, it is a
legacy that will undoubtedly benefit our community for generations to come.
The Mandells live in West Hartford, have three children and