Southeast Missouri State University graduate Jeff Davis is one of only five Public Service Commissioners for the state of Missouri. However, his job frequently takes him outside of the boundaries of the state lines, and, occasionally, into other countries. Jeff recently spent four days in Guatemala working with the Association of Central American Electric Regulators.
“Working with utility regulators from Guatemala, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Honduras and El Salvador, we discovered that we were all wrestling with the same problems: how to pay for new infrastructure, enhance the reliability of our existing electric distribution infrastructure and still make it affordable,” explains Jeff.
Jeff graduated from Southeast in 1994 with a Bachelor of Science degree in political science and minors in Spanish and sociology. He says his Spanish minor has been extremely useful for him.
“Using my Spanish minor from Southeast, I was able to deliver my opening remarks and the introduction to my presentation in their native language,” Jeff says. “Even though my Spanish wasn't perfect, the Central American regulators were really impressed that I made an effort to deliver my presentation in Spanish and to engage them in conversation.”
Serving as a Public Service Commissioner is a role Jeff greatly enjoys. The work he and the other Public Service Commissioners complete is also extremely important for all Missourians.
“I love my job - it's one of the most intellectually challenging and important jobs in the state,” he says. “We are responsible for developing and monitoring policies affecting the for-profit gas, electric, water, sewer and telephone companies in this state, which includes setting rates.
The decisions we are making today about what type of plants utilities should use to generate electricity and how transmission costs in this state should be allocated are going to affect Missourians for generations to come.”
Jeff has also had a hand in writing important legislation for Missouri citizens.
“In addition to helping chart our state's energy policy for the next half century or longer, I am most proud of my role in helping draft and pass the Senior Care & Protection Act of 2003 - the first major rewrite of our state's nursing home laws in a quarter century or longer,” he says.
Despite all the important work Jeff is doing for Missouri in his position, he says the most rewarding part of his profession is the simple things.
“Helping people solve seemingly impossible problems with their utility service: getting someone's service restored, getting a water main replaced that turned their backyard into a marsh and getting clean drinking water for a subdivision - those are the moments I will always remember,” he says.
Jeff says his secret to success is working hard, working smart, being able to recognize good ideas, attention to detail and performing every task he’s been given like it was the most important job in the world.
He says during his time at Southeast, his participation in Phi Delta Theta, Student Government and Alpha Phi Omega helped him develop leadership and communication skills essential to his success. Jeff now serves on the international board of directors for his fraternity, Phi Delta Theta. Next to raising his own children, he says helping his undergraduate fraternity brothers develop their leadership skills is the most important thing he does.
Jeff offers the following advice to current and future Southeast students.
“Focus on your strengths. If there is something you love or that you're good at, find a way to make a living doing it.”
With a little help from his job, Jeff has visited 39 states. Looking to the future, he says he would like to visit all 50. He would also like a chance to visit Guatemala again.
“Tropical rain forests, volcanoes, ancient ruins and modern cities - four days is not enough time to explore Guatemala. I'd like to go back,” he says.
Jeff lives in Jefferson City, Mo., with his wife, Tiffany (a 1996 graduate of Southeast), and their three daughters: Micah, Mackenzie and Mayson.