Associate Head of Finance and Operations Jane Davis shares a look inside her time at Archer


Photo credit: Sydney Tilles

Jane Davis uses her computer to work in her office, room 129. Davis is the associate head of finance and operations and has been at Archer for 14 years. “Ms. Davis has a fiery and passionate commitment to ethics and justice,” Pavliscak said. “She is a balance of prudent financial stewardship and this feisty, politically active dog rescuer. That’s Ms. Davis.”

By Sydney Tilles, Senior Reporter

With back-to-back meetings with directors, speaking with lateral partners and convening with the senior administration team, Jane Davis ensures Archer runs smoothly. Davis has been at Archer for 14 years, and she is the associate head of finance and operations. She oversees finance, accounting, human resources, technology, facilities, safety and security and is in charge of allocating financial aid.

Davis grew up in Rhode Island and attended Bryant University. She found she was naturally talented at business and finance. She started her career as a certified public accountant. However, she realized she wanted to do something more rewarding, so when she moved to California in 2000, she became the chief operating officer of a homeless services organization.

Davis came to Archer after The Great Recession in 2008. One of the effects of the recession was widespread layoffs and declining credit, which included nonprofits. The government funding for the nonprofit she was working at was discontinued, and she found out about Archer.

“I came to Archer, and I drove on campus and I was like, ‘I love this place,'” Davis said. “It was so magical to step on the campus after working in these corporate environments. It was such a breath of fresh air.”

Davis had her first interview for Archer on the last day of school in 2010, and she said it was vibrant and fun to be around. When she came back the following Friday for a second interview, she said it was like a ghost town and realized there was such a difference between when the school is full and alive and what it is like in the summer. 

Associate Head of School for Teaching and Learning Karen Pavliscak supports teachers to build programs. Pavliscak had already been working at Archer when Davis arrived. She has been at Archer for 23 years and has worked with Davis for 14. She said Davis is a combination of detail-oriented and big-picture thinking. She knows numbers and balances Archer’s budget to ensure a sturdy financial foundation.

“[Davis] is an important collaborator and partner. We both serve the head of school, and so our working relationship is to see how we fund the priorities for student learning,” Pavliscak said.  “She’s always there to ensure that we have the money, the facilities and the operations to support the student experience. I am working from the classroom and working from the community experience, so you can see how our skills and interest interleave in a really important way.”

On a personal level, Pavliscak said Davis loves dogs as much as she does. She serves on the board of Wallis Annenberg Petspace, which is a rescue organization and a research facility in Marina Del Rey. Pavliscak said Davis has rescued multiple dogs. Since she has known Davis, Pavliscak said there has always been a sensitive place in her heart for all animals.

“I hope she stands as a symbol for girls that you can be a caring, thoughtful, purposeful woman and really be a badass with numbers,” Pavliscak said. “[You can] know how to finance, how to budget and how to create possibility through money, and she stands as somebody who not only has been actively saving animals’ lives but has created a stellar program at Archer by finding securing and budgeting the finances to ensure every student can have an extraordinary experience.”

Pavliscak said Davis is deeply committed to the students at Archer, and it is interesting that students don’t really think about the person who ensures Archer can pay all the bills. She said Archer teachers and faculty need to tell the students more about how Davis is not only a finance expert, but she knows how to make strategic choices in budgeting and financing all the elements of Archer.

Whenever there is an opportunity to teach the students about financial literacy, Pavliscak said Davis is the first to volunteer. Davis said she loved working here because it was vibrant and rewarding.

“The most rewarding is seeing [all the Archer girls] walking around. When I first started here in 2010, I used to be a sixth grade adviser. This class that is graduating this year is the last year that I actually was an adviser for sixth grade,” Davis said. “I find seeing students come in sixth grade and graduate as 12th graders and walk on that stage … is so rewarding — to see how girls grow up and change and gain confidence and all the things that our mission tell us [are] important.”

Jessica McCullagh has been at Archer for 11 years, and she is the director of human resources and the flexible tuition program. McCullagh and Davis work closely together, not just as colleagues, but as friends. They have worked together since McCullagh started at Archer.

“She’s a great boss to work for and, through this time, we’ve also become friends,” McCullagh said. “It’s just a great kind of working relationship.”

McCullagh described Davis as incredibly smart and experienced. She said Davis is a collaborative person and, although she has a lot of experience, she is always open to new ideas and perspectives.

“She’s very understanding and collaborative and a great kind of person to work with,” McCullagh said. “I think for students to know, [Davis is behind] so much of what goes into the running of a school. A lot of people don’t really see but she’s really behind a lot of that.”

While she is not in the limelight, Davis loves her job.

“I love Archer. I love our mission. I feel so proud of the people that work for me, and the people I work with it,” Davis said. “When I came here, I never thought I would retire from here. But I’ve got a couple more years before it’s time for me to retire, and I can’t see myself going anywhere else.”