One year ago the Nashville Voice shared with its readers Nashville’s 10 most powerful African Americans. It was our belief then and still is today that leadership in our community is of the highest importance.
The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines the word power as possession of control, authority, or influence over others.
Leaders rise to power in many different ways. Regardless if it is through election or appointment, for a leader to have power they must be able to accomplish the goals they set forward. When a person is powerful their ideas do not just remain figments of their imagination but become tangible. Power means making one’s vision a reality.
We believe it is time to reexamine who in our community holds the most power. Who can actually get things accomplished throughout Metro Nashville and Davidson County. Some names are the same and there are some new faces. What is of interest is this year our list is split down the middle five men and five women.
We hope this list begins a discussion of who holds power and what does that mean for the rest of the community. Just as last year the Nashville Voice used the following criteria when considering the selection of our top 10:
CAPACITY: They have the capacity to move the needle or make a change.
RESPONSIBILITY: They use their power to or are responsible for making big decisions to make lasting changes that impact the lives of Nashville residents.
SINGULARITY: If you needed something done, you would call this person. They don’t have to call anyone else to get things done.
RESPECTABILITY: They possess superior character and are deeply respected by their peers in the community.
CONSISTENCY: They have made a career out of using their power and influence for the greater good of the urban community in Nashville.
Decosta Jenkins was appointed the president and CEO of Nashville Electric Services—one of the 12 largest public electric utilities in the nation, distributing energy to more than 385,000 customers in Middle Tennessee—in September 2004, after 13 years with the company. Prior to that, Jenkins spent 11 years with Deloitte and Touche. Jenkins is a member and past treasurer of the Nashville Downtown Exchange Club and is board chairman of Samaritan Ministries/Project S.E.E. Jenkins serves on the boards of TN Rehabilitative Initiative in Correction, Goodwill Industries, Tennessee Valley Public Power Association, Nashville Bank & Trust, YMCA of Middle Tennessee, Salvation Army, American Public Power Association and The Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee.
We selected Jenkins at the top of our list not only because of his professional power helming the largest utility company in middle Tennessee, but also his expansive commitment to using his personal influence, energy, resources, and compassion to serve the least of these in our community.