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Lori Jones-Perkins named next Executive Director of United Way of Knox County

Lori Jones-Perkins, Executive Director of New Directions, has been named executive director of
the United Way of Knox County, effective July 31, 2023. Jones-Perkins replaces Kelly
Brenneman, who has served as executive director of the United Way of Knox County since 2015,
and who announced her May 31 retirement in January.
Board Chair Bethany Celmar said, “United Way of Knox County is so appreciative of Kelly’s
leadership over the last 8 years. She orchestrated the move to our permanent location on East
High Street, launched and developed Power of the Purse into one of the most popular and
successful fundraisers in the county, navigated the organization through the pandemic, and
cultivated strategic community partnerships. We wish Kelly all the best in her retirement and
know she will still be active in the Knox County community.”
The United Way of Knox County Board welcomes Lori to the role of executive director after an
extensive search. “Lori brings a wealth of experience in the non-profit sector, both by serving in
prominent roles of two United Way partner agencies as well as on community boards and
committees. We know United Way of Knox County will be in great hands under the direction of
Lori,” Celmar stated.
Jones-Perkins has served as Executive Director of New Directions since March of 2018, working
to enhance and improve the work internal to the agency, participating in county-wide initiatives,
and managing all aspects of grant funds. Additionally, she implemented the first-ever capital
campaign in the agency’s 40-year history. This included the purchase and restoration of a
building which will allow the agency to expand services. Prior to serving as Executive Director,
Lori worked as a Prevention Educator and Assistant Director of New Directions where she
promoted and presented programming in the areas of healthy relationships, domestic violence
and sexual assault advocacy. Preceding her time at New Directions, Jones-Perkins worked at
Knox County Head Start for sixteen years, spending her last eight years as the Associate
“I am excited for this opportunity. As the next Executive Director of United Way, I will further
my commitment to Knox County and the multiple programs that exist with the help of United
Way funding. I know that I have been led to this new position and am forever grateful to the staff
and board of New Directions for their tireless work with the agency and their support of me
moving on,” stated Jones-Perkins.
Jones-Perkins is a life-long resident of Knox County and MVNU alum who has worked
professionally in the community for more than 20 years. Her service to the community includes
being a member of Women United, a board member for the Knox County Federally Qualified

Health Center, and a member of both the Knox Health Planning Partnership and Family &
Children First Council. She is also a graduate of the Knox County Chamber of Commerce
Leadership Knox program and was nominated for the Chamber of Commerce Women in
Leadership award in 2019 and 2023.
Lori enjoys spending time with family and friends, traveling and reading. She also loves
supporting local sports teams, specifically the MVNU Men’s Basketball team where her son is
finishing his sophomore year. Go Cougars!
Now in its 72nd year, the United Way of Knox is a cornerstone of community wellness and
success. They strategically connect partners and resources to community needs in order to
measurably impact the quality of lives of Knox County residents. Since 1951, local volunteers
have been responsible for raising more than $20 million to impact the quality of life for Knox
County residents.

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