MCC graduate to lead The Montgomery Institute

Dr. Beverly Knox, left, with Bill Crawford, president-emeritus of The Montgomery Institute. Dr. Knox is the first woman to lead the nonprofit corporation.Dr. Beverly Knox, left, with Bill Crawford, president-emeritus of The Montgomery Institute. Dr. Knox is the first woman to lead the nonprofit corporation.


Dr. Beverly Knox, a graduate of Meridian Community College, is excited to be named president of The Montgomery Institute, the first woman to lead the nonprofit corporation.

Celebrating its 20th year, The Montgomery Institute, which is named for the late Congressman G.V. “Sonny” Montgomery, supports programs, resources and initiatives that promote leadership development, foster regional cooperation, research new ideas, build consensus and act as a change agent for the region.

“Our theme here is upbuilding people and places Sonny’s way,” Knox said.

A native of Meridian, Knox is a 1979 graduate of Meridian High School. She earned her associate degree in University Transfer from MCC in 1981. She then transferred to the University of Southern Mississippi, where she graduated in 1983 with a bachelor’s degree in Radio, Television & Film. She returned to Meridian and worked as a television news reporter for WHTV Channel 24 News for the next five years.

In 1988, Knox left the news station to become the City of Meridian’s coordinator of Keep America Beautiful of Meridian and Lauderdale County until 2006. She spent the next three years working as the project coordinator for EC-HealthNet. She served as project director of the Mississippi Tobacco Free Coalition of Noxubee, Neshoba, and Kemper Counties for the 12 years prior to leading The Montgomery Institute.

“We did community outreach in all three of those counties teaching the dangers of tobacco use,” she said of the coalition. “We worked with hospitals, schools, and coalitions in those counties, and we worked to pass smoke-free ordinances in all of the municipalities in Noxubee, Neshoba, and Kemper counties to protect people who do not smoke from second-hand smoke.”

Founder and pastor of Holy Remnant Church, Knox earned her bachelor’s degree in Biblical Studies from Ebenezer Christian Seminary in 2011, followed by her master’s degree in 2013 and her doctorate in 2016.

She is married to Leon Knox who works at Hotel & Restaurant Supply. They have a son, Cortney L. Knox, who also is a graduate of MCC and works as an automation specialist for Flex-N-Gate in the area of Dallas-Fort Worth. He and his wife, Keondria, have two daughters, CaLea and Keonna Knox. The couple’s daughter, Lacey Joy Williams, now serves in her mom’s former position as project director of the Tobacco Free Coalition of Noxubee, Neshoba, and Kemper

Counties. She and her husband, Christopher Williams, have four daughters, Jada Williams, Courtney and Casey Cole (twins), and Charity Williams.

Since 2001, The Montgomery Institute has brought in nearly $40 million in grants and contributions to support innovation and improvement of its partner organizations. Some of the institute’s current programs include the Mississippi Freedom Project; the East Mississippi Power Initiative in Kemper, Winston, Choctaw, and Webster Counties; and the Community Health Improvement Network (CHIN).

The CHIN Program, a rural health network launched in 2016, is being consolidated into The Montgomery Institute and Knox will serve as executive director.

“I am very excited to serve as president of The Montgomery Institute and as executive director of CHIN,” Knox said. “It will be very challenging work. CHIN is comprised of so many local entities and we are all working toward the goal of making sure people place a priority on good health.”

MCC is among the organizations that partner with CHIN, as well as Mississippi State University-Meridian, the East Mississippi Business Development Corporation, City of Meridian, Anderson Regional Health System, Rush Health Systems, The Phil Hardin Foundation, the Meridian Housing Authority, EC HealthNet, Greater Meridian Health Clinic and the Mississippi Department of Health.

One of the immediate priorities of CHIN is to launch a promotional campaign aimed at getting as many people vaccinated for Covid-19 as possible. “We have what we call a ‘Please Get Vaccinated Campaign’ that we are going to be rolling out,” Knox noted. “Also, we hope to be able to conduct Community Lunch and Learns as an outreach in the communities so we can educate residents one on one. Through those, we hope to dispel any myths or untruths about the vaccine and present factual and accurate information so people will be able to make a sound decision in reference to being vaccinated."