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Tocqueville Society Co-Chair reflects on importance of Black History Month

Black History Month serves as an additional opportunity to stop and reflect on the achievements made by Black leaders of both the past and present. This month, we’re spotlighting one of our Tocqueville Society donors, Jeffrey “Jeff” Archie.  

Jeff retired as Senior Vice President and Chief Nuclear Officer of South Carolina Electric and Gas (SCE&G) in April 2019. Jeff worked for SCE&G for over 40 years with responsibilities primarily focused on the safe operation and management of the VC Summer Nuclear Station located in Jenkinsville, South Carolina.

Jeff’s career at SCE&G began as a summer intern for the company in 1978. Over his career, he held a number of management positions that included Outage and Work Control Manager, General Manager of Engineering Services, General Manager of Plant Operations, VC Summer Site Vice President and SCE&G Chief Nuclear Officer.

Jeff has been an active industry leader throughout his career. He served as Chairman of the National Academy for Nuclear Training Council from 2007 until 2011 and served as a member of the INPO Executive Advisory Group from 2010 until 2018. He served as one of the industry appointed CNOs responsible for the coordination of interactions between Japanese and US CNOs supporting post-Fukushima recovery efforts. Jeff has also served as a member of the Board of Directors for Nuclear Electric Insurance Limited (NEIL) from 2016 until 2018.

Since retiring Jeff has served as a member of the Nuclear Safety Review Committee for Koeberg Nuclear Power Station in Cape Town, South Africa and is currently serving on the International Advisory Committee for the Japanese Nuclear Safety Institute (JANSI). He is also currently serving as a member of the National Nuclear Accrediting Board.

Jeffrey earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of South Carolina and is a graduate of the Institute of Nuclear Power Operations Senior Nuclear Plant Managers Program.

Additionally, Jeff has served on the Board for the American Red Cross in South Carolina and has served as Chair for the University of South Carolina Mechanical Engineering Advisory Committee. He has also served on the University of South Carolina Board of Visitors. He currently is serving on the Board of the Palmetto Conservation Foundation and is Co-Chair of the United Way Tocqueville Society.

During our Q&A, Jeff discussed the importance of celebrating Black History, credits his grandmother for molding him into the man he is today, explains why he got involved with United Way and more.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History Month is an affirmation of the significant contributions that Black people have made to the shaping of America. In these challenging times when Black History is being attacked and minimized by some, it’s more important than ever to ensure Black History is embraced as a significant part of American History. Black History Month provides an intentional opportunity for all Americans to reflect, learn, and grow.

Name someone who influenced you and helped shape you into the person you are today.

I believe in most cases, positive influences in a person’s life can be nurtured through interactions with parents, teachers, close friends, mentors, or even colleagues in the workplace.

For me, it was my grandmother. She was not highly educated from an academic standpoint but you would never guess that was the case. She always pushed me to do my best in school, praising me when I did well and encouraging me when I needed to work harder. She raised me to attend church as well as participate in the conduct of the services. She believed in hard work and sacrifice and encouraged me to respect and help others without the expectation of receiving anything in return.

I could go on and on about the things I learned from her, but I think the most important influence she had on me was watching her as she lived her life. She lived her values each and every day. We had our share of wonderful times but also our share of difficult times. I paid attention to how she managed situations that were very difficult, always in a manner that aligned with her convections for always doing the right thing. She cared and sacrificed for many throughout her life. I viewed her as an angel on earth and the influence she has had on me literally impacts my thoughts on nearly everything I do today.

What inspired you to get involved with the United Way?

I was introduced to the United Way during my employment with SCE&G which started for me in the early 80s. Our company was a big supporter of UW and consistently demonstrated that through its efforts in workplace campaigns and community engagement activities. I have volunteered as an employee in the past to lead efforts within my workplace to encourage others to give. Those efforts typically involved helping folks understand how the payroll deduction process worked, providing opportunities for UW representatives to visit our workplace and speak to our employees or providing our employees with clarity on other ways they could be a part of supporting the communities that we served. I also supported campaign leadership efforts in Fairfield and Newberry Counties. Leadership opportunities with the UW enhanced and grew my overall leadership competencies that over time became some of the foundational leadership virtues I demonstrated when conducting our own company business and leadership efforts.

I have always believed in the mission of the UW.  I have seen firsthand how the efforts of the UW have helped people in need. The UW conducts business in a very transparent manner and actively looks for opportunities for members of our communities to volunteer and be a part of the organization’s efforts.

As my career grew over four decades, I was able to leverage the learning I had gained from the UW as well as other charitable organizations that my wife and I have worked with and supported over the years.

I appreciate the opportunities the UW provides to not only contribute financially but also the opportunities to see for how contributions are being used to positively impact the lives of those that they serve. The UW is not the only charitable organization that my wife and I support, but it has been and will continue to have primary status.  

What is a message you hope to send to today’s youth by being a philanthropist?

It is extremely important to share your treasures, whether that be your skills and talents or your financial assets. We all live in this world together and while we may not agree with the opinions of others, we all have a responsibility to help others in need. Try not to always judge folks that are less fortunate or need support, instead meet people where they currently are and start from there in helping them to move forward. The past cannot be undone but the future provides a tremendous opportunity for change. Young people especially should participate in positive change in the communities in which they live. Get involved by putting your own eyes on it and see for yourself how the goodness of giving can impact those that may be less fortunate in our communities.

How can nonprofits lead the effort of creating more diverse and inclusive spaces?

I think UW does a good job in this area. They encourage diversity in their leadership and that diversity and inclusiveness are apparent in their interactions with the communities served.

The UW demonstrates its commitment to helping diverse communities through its strategic plan which addresses community needs many of which address people impacted by poverty and unemployment. Efforts are consistently aligned with helping all community citizens regardless of race or ethnicity.

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