Native Son Makes Positive Impact at Home
By Angelia McGowan
By the end of the year, Jerome Davis will retire from a company he has been with for more than 36 years. While “What’s next?” is a valid question, a reflection of a purpose-filled career is equally important.
“I have been fortunate to work in an exciting industry. Aside from health care, energy companies are at the forefront of positively impacting people’s lives,” says the regional vice president for Xcel Energy-Colorado.
The Minneapolis-based company provides the energy that powers millions of homes and businesses across eight Western and Midwestern states. The company is an industry leader in responsibly reducing carbon emissions and producing and delivering clean energy solutions from a variety of renewable sources at competitive prices.
For Davis, it’s more than a business transaction.
“Our responsibilities to the communities, we have the pleasure of serving, go far beyond the selling of products and services,” says Davis, who learned this early in his career from Cynthia Evans, a former executive with the company. He recalls her stressing the importance of the confluence of corporate engagement, social investment and personal engagement in communities where companies conduct their business.
Today, he provides executive leadership responsibility for local government affairs in 165 communities located throughout Colorado. He oversees accounts for business customers, which comprise more than $1 billion in annual revenue. He also provides strategic leadership for the management of community relations and economic development for the state. It’s hard to find any area of the community that the company has not reached under his guidance. The company’s charitable giving foundation has made investments in workforce development, STEM education, environmental stewardship and access to arts.
Day of Service, the company’s largest single-day corporate volunteer effort, began initially to honor the anniversary of September 11, 2001. It has evolved into employees recruiting family, friends and customers to volunteer to positively impact the communities in Colorado through a wide range of projects with nonprofit organizations in Xcel’s service territories. The global pandemic impacted the format, but it continued with take-home projects and virtual projects for volunteers.
“Given the situation we are in with COVID, nonprofit organizations have needed our help more than ever,” says Davis. “We thought that is was critically important and no better time to find new and creative ways to help.”
Davis’ long-term vision for Day of Service is to achieve such high volunteer engagement that it would become Colorado’s day of service. “We may not be there yet, but I believe the possibilities are endless,” he says.
Service is in his DNA
Davis credits his parents for instilling the value of service in him at an early age. They provided powerful examples of what it means to lead and live this responsible value.
“My mom, Rosie Davis, was a member of Macedonia Baptist Church for decades. Her quiet service to the church and community were well known, and she often brought me and my siblings along for the ride. We learned early about the gift of giving. My dad, Walter Davis Sr., exemplified service to our country with over a 20-year career in the Air Force,” he says.
That value was set. What was not set early on was where he would make his mark. “When I was 19 or 20 years old, I was ready to get out of town and go to a bigger city like New York, D.C. or Los Angeles. By chance, I started at the company and then through my work saw the greatness of Colorado,” he recalls.
Davis, who holds a bachelor’s degree in finance and computer information systems and an MBA from Regis University, initially went into the field that he wanted. He explains, “I did envision practicing finance, but after doing it on the job I learned this was not my core purpose. I am more of a relationship guy. I found my passion for the community and giving back. I like having a view of all the great things happening in our community and sharing that with others.”
Over the course of his career with Xcel Energy his roles have spanned supplier diversity, sales and marketing, corporate accounting and working in substation engineering. The various roles make him feel like he has “had 16-17 different jobs.” He also served on several boards including the Denver Chapter of the American Association of Blacks in Energy, Denver Metro Chamber Economic Development Corporation, Visit Denver, and Colorado Health Foundation, to name a few.
Through his career he has faced many challenges, but when working to meet goals, he likes to reference a quote from Maya Angelou: “All great achievements require time.”
He shares, “In my career, a key focus has been on relationships with large customers and communities. Some are easier to manage than others, and some can be extremely challenging. The challenging ones may deliver setbacks from time to time, but that also presents opportunities to persevere. It’s important to keep moving forward, looking for creative solutions and not giving up. Behind any accomplishments I have had is a lot of time, and a team that is committed and focused. If it were easy, I would not be the person I am today.”
That person today is the recipient of the 2020 9News Leader of the Year honor given to those who have made significant contributions to the well-being and development of Colorado. For Davis, receiving the award was “humbling,” he admits. “I was honored to have been recognized as a finalist, even before receiving the award. It was an experience I will never forget. I am grateful for everyone’s support. I think this award is about honoring the journey of someone’s life work. As I end my career at Xcel Energy and move on to the next chapter, I will continue to pursue active work in the community. For me, service is a lifelong commitment and way of life.”
As for his next steps, geographically, the native son will stay in Colorado.
He concludes, “I will never leave. I love Colorado.”