Four months into his new role as TVA’s executive director for Memphis, Mark Creech already has seen and heard enough to know that he has some work to do to address the “TVALiteracy” gap.
He made good use of Black History Month, combining the opportunity to talk about African-American icons and heroes with the chance to introduce and promote TVA to many – young, old and between – who know very little about it.
Fresh to Memphis, Creech is an engineer. His roots are 15 years deep into TVA and about 35 years into the utility industry. He’s upfront about the “TVALiteracy” gap.
“The level of literacy that I’ve seen is that there is almost no knowledge about TVA in the Shelby County-Memphis area,” he said during an interview with The New Tri-State Defender.
“I’ve kind of seen it across the board. It’s from a spectrum of some of our older to even your younger constituents.”
Looking for a starting point, he tells people that TVA is the company that sells electricity to Memphis Light, Gas & Water. He weaves in talk about power plants, how electricity is actually formed, how water flows – all part of connecting the dots for people.
In a way, what Creech is doing is a natural progression from his own early curiosity. Originally from Allendale, S.C., Creech said he grew with wonderment about what makes things work.
“My mom would tell me that my whole thought was to go grab something to take it apart. Of course, I didn’t know how to put it back together,” he said, which meant accidents like knocking out the power to the house.
The product of a single-parent home, his hardworking mother inspired him. An uncle, who was in the military, was among the men in his life who challenged him by saying, “you can do a whole lot better than what you are doing.”
Married and the father of two boys, he does for his sons what his uncle and others did for him.
As a 20-year-old, Creech landed a technician job at a nuclear power plan in South Carolina. When an engineering assistant job came open he applied for it. Learning that he needed an engineering degree, he went back to school.
A chance meeting on an airplane with a TVA executive ended up with him working for TVA. He’s been an assistant plant manager in Chattanooga and Clarksville. He’s worked in coal and in gas, transmission, power supply and more
“What drew me here (to Memphis) was the opportunity to look for a city that (I) could actually have an executive presence in; that I could speak on behalf of TVA but also see if I could help with the community.”
The job Creech has was created specifically for Memphis. To hear him talk more about it and about TVA’s relationship with Memphis and Memphians, tune in to TSDRadio on WLOK this Sunday from 5 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. for “Where Do We Go From Here?”