Nancy Silberkleit keeps a tally of how many days she’s been a businesswoman. Given the controversy surrounding her, it’s unclear if that count marks her triumph, survival, or both. An art teacher for 25 years, Silberkleit inherited a 50 percent share of the Archie Comics company from her late husband, Michael Silberkleit, in 2008 and became co-CEO. Fortune magazine dubbed her “the accidental boss.” Silberkleit, 62, believes her teaching experience prepared her for that role.
Multiple lawsuits over control of the company flew back and forth. At one point, Silberkleit was banned from the company’s headquarters. However, all cases have been dismissed and corresponding charges have been dropped, allowing Silberkleit to continue focusing on the many adventures of Archie and his friends. The beloved brand has sold two billion comics since its first issue was published in 1939.
Silberkleit, who retains her title, loves promoting the brand and connecting with customers. Comics, she believes, can be used for literacy training. She’s also become an anti-bullying advocate and says her passion comes out of her own painful experience. Still, she remains undaunted. “I just block out the negative noise and move forward.”