Meet Karol Ross

Location: Beverly Hills, MI
Age: 64
Marital Status: Married
Education: M.A. in marriage and family counseling from Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, B.A. in Psychology and English from Case Western Reserve in Cleveland and J.D. from the District of Columbia School of Law

What is being a divorce court psychologist like?

We deal with couples all across the spectrum — wealthy, mentally ill, incarcerated, about to be incarcerated, have abuse allegations against them, everything. They are usually before the court fighting over custody and/or parenting time. The judge meets with them for two minutes and often doesn’t know what to do so she sends them to our clinic. We evaluate the situation and make a recommendation, or we counsel with the parties because they’re in high conflict and can’t resolve any of their own issues.

How do you know how to navigate the court system?

I went to law school in D.C., the District of Columbia School of Law. I wanted to understand the language, the dynamics, and the policies of a courtroom.

You moved to D.C. for law school?

My husband is in politics, and we moved to DC when he was Under Secretary of Labor for Clinton. We went at the last minute, and I’ve always worked so when we got there I thought, ‘What am I gonna do?! Oh, I’ll go to law school.’ Eventually we came back to Michigan and he ran for governor, but lost.

I’m sorry to hear, what does he do now?

He’s such a positive person. After going around to all the urban churches [while he was campaigning] he found that the biggest concern for those parents is school for their kids. So ten years ago he started a charter school. Now he has a middle school, high school, two elementary schools, and he’s starting two more. He also works for the Treasury Department; he provides low-interest loans to schools and community centers from the federal government to subsidize the building of public institutions like schools.

How was it being in Washington during the Clinton years?

Fun! We met a huge amount of interesting people who thought deeply about things and there were always interesting discussions. My husband is really smart but he doesn’t take himself too seriously. We’re both that way.

How long have you been married?

Thirtytwo years. We grew up in Michigan. We both went to the same high school. I was married before him and that ended in divorce.

Are your children from your first marriage?

Yes, but my first husband ended up having so many issues and being so difficult that my husband ultimately adopted the kids. He has raised them. Julie was eight months when I was separated.

How would you describe your style?

More tailored but modern. I tend toward being minimalistic, like I never know what to do with a scarf. I’m more like Jil Sander. I buy Tahari and Theory for work.

Where do you buy your clothes?

I love Bergdorfs in New York. But typically I shop at Saks and Neimans. I go to London quite often to see my children so I’ll pick up something there.

Where do you get your hair cut?

Emile’s. First of all, I adore Rula [owner]. Emile’s is upscale but not pretentious. It’s a lot of fun to go there. It keeps me up-to-date on my style; it keeps me progressive. Rula decides what to do with my hair. I never look at magazines. It’s a lot of fun.

What are your favorite restaurants in London, D.C. or Michigan?

My favorite restaurant just outside of D.C. is Pines of Rome. It’s an Italian restaurant that serves huge amounts of food. It’s casual and everything is delicious without being too pretentious. In London we went to The Ivy, which of course everyone goes to, and we saw Kevin Spacey with his entourage there. We’ve done a few of the Gordon Ramsey restaurants that are fabulous. He’s a perfectionist.

What’s a great book that you’ve read?

I just read two fabulous books. Moloka’i by Alan Brennert was about a young girl’s struggle with leprosy and how they treated people in a leper colony on one of the islands off Hawaii. Another book, Someone Knows My Name by Lawrence Hill, was about this woman who lived through slavery in the 1800s. I like to read about people in horrible situations that they triumph over. I always learn something.

What do you use to wash and moisturize?

I like Decleor cleanser and moisturizer. It smells good. It’s from Paris. I think they know what they’re doing there.

What about your secret favorite spot?

I love Emile’s because it’s complete relaxation. I usually start my day off there on Friday or Saturday. I also love to sit down in the cafeteria at one of my husband’s charter schools and take in everything that is happening to the kids. That makes me so happy. And I like the Eastern Market, an outdoor market that sells flowers and produce and has little delis in downtown Detroit. I love being surrounded by food and baked goods.

What is your exercise routine?

I do Zumba, which I love, twice a week. It’s a new exercise where you dance to Latin music. They’re [Zumba studios] springing up all over. I do weights once a week and I do aerobics.

What is your biggest indulgence?

A great pair of shoes. Gucci. Chanel.  I love Chanel.

Do you have any signature items?

My mom had a pinkie ring with a small diamond in it. I took the diamond out of her ring when she passed about four years ago, and I wear it as a necklace everyday. I made it into a single drop so that she’s close to my heart.

What’s the most important thing you’ve learned in your career?

My career always has crisis situations. The single most important thing I’ve learned is the crisis always passes. It takes you a long time to learn that but it always passes.

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