Charles A. Archer is the co-founder and CEO of The THRIVE Network, which offers programs and services to individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities throughout the New York metro area. Archer is also the author of the book, “Everybody Paddles: A Leader’s Blueprint for Creating a Unified Team.”
Connect, Serve and Grow
The THRIVE Network is a 501(c)(3), whose mission is to help individuals and families in need, in their own way, find their path to success. Under the leadership of Archer, the organization will now encompass a multitude of services for ALL. From early education, supporting individuals with physical and developmental disabilities, social habilitation and support programs for senior citizens and the homeless, The THRIVE Network is committed in helping those individuals get back on their feet providing the proper tools and resources needed to enable individuals to become more independent, productive and included members of our community.
We were very fortunate to catch up with Archer, the humanitarian and visionary behind this successful and ambitious non-profit organization to discuss The THRIVE Network’s story, mission and proudest accomplishments.
MJ: How did you get involved with the non-profit world?
CA: About 24 years ago, I started working with people with disabilities as a direct support professional. I had the opportunity to go to college during the day and work at night and what I’ve learned over the years is that people with disabilities want the same things in life that I want. This realization propelled me to dedicate my life to providing those types of services to those people.
In 1996, when I co-founded the Evelyn Douglin Center for Serving People In Need (EDCSPIN), at that time, there was a enormous need to find services and supports for underserved and under-accessed communities. Fast forward to 2016, we’re at a place where we provide support to the underserved individuals and their families and are expanding our services and demographics.
MJ: What is your passion behind children and early education? What is another issue that really hits home for you?
CA: As the eldest of eight, with marginal differences of 15+ years with some, it made my life’s work as an inspiration, and testament to their unconditional support. By way of example, two of my siblings have learning disabilities and witnessing their cumbersome struggle to access these vital services propelled me to want to make a difference. Particularly with education, I’ve observed that the housing, economic and social limitations prevent children and adults from getting proper constructs. As a result, both my personal and professional experiences are based in my own reality and have become my passions.
Another passion of mine is fighting stigmas. I crusade to assist those in need with disabilities, incarnated past, immigrants and those with economic challenges. Society has marginalized people to a label that does not allow those underserved to progress. In consequence, these stigmas prevent us all from advancing because we have victimized these groups.
MJ: The THRIVE Network has such a powerful name and strong significance behind it. What does the word THRIVE mean to you and your organization? Compared to other non-profit organizations, what sets you apart from the others?
CA: THRIVE means ‘NO LIMITS.’ As an advocate who believes in everybody’s possibility and opportunity to contribute, THRIVE represents how our services, programs and foundation speak on behalf of those in need; our recipients, families, staff and society to accomplish their life goals.
The culture of The THRIVE Network distinguishes us amongst other non-profits because everybody’s contribution has value, expectation and relevancy to our success. And best of all, our culture is all-inclusive; everybody is welcome to participate in our network.
MJ: What are some of your advocacy goals and where would you like to push the conversation?
CA: In terms of the discussion regarding intellectual and developmental disabilities, the health services and delivery systems are changing. From a nonprofit’s perspective, we understand that there must be changes, but we need to be careful about how drastically and swiftly things change. In terms of government, if you are going to say that you want to protect and serve all New Yorkers, you need to back that up with actions; it can’t just be a philosophy. There must be implementation.
MJ: You’ve built a significant organization and have attracted many high profile individuals and celebrities to get behind your efforts. Would you consider this one of your proudest accomplishments with the foundation?
CA: My proudest moment as a Founder and leader of The THRIVE Network is one in which has been active for twenty years where we have been helping those reach their full potential through programs and services, employment support, and influencing policy discussion. The celebrity support is an added bonus for us which means people understand and can appreciate what we are doing collectively as a team for others.
MJ: You’re an author of a compendium of essays on leadership philosophy, “Everybody Paddles.” What was the inspiration for that book, and what is your personal leadership philosophy?
CA: In “Everybody Paddles: A Leader’s Blueprint for Creating a Unified Team,” I outline six principles that I really believe can create a culture of change, a culture where people believe that they matter and want to add value at work. Over the years—I’m an attorney and I’ve also done some teaching throughout the city—I’ve realized that many people come to work and they feel devalued. There’s a sense that people wonder, “Do I have something worth contributing and will anyone pay attention?”
“Everybody Paddles” has become a guide for people to understand that you really are expected to add value at The THRIVE Network or wherever you are position. This position can be home, work, community, education, politics or any other area of life. We don’t want it juston Monday or Friday. We want it five days a week, and your colleagues want it, and the people that we serve want it. It’s also become about the concept that followership is as important as leadership, and without one you can’t have the other.
MJ: Where can the readers pick up a copy of Everybody Paddles?
CA: Readers can pick up a copy of the third edition at the following locations: Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Hudson News and CEO Reads.
To learn more about The THRIVE Network, and how you can get involved, please visit: http://www.thethrivenetwork.org/