Lloyd Gray, longtime executive editor of the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal in Tupelo, has been named executive director of The Phil Hardin Foundation.
Gray will assume his new responsibilities in late July at the foundation, which provides grants to support innovative educational programs and partnerships in Mississippi.
“Lloyd Gray brings to this position a lifetime of advocacy for improving education in Mississippi through his newspaper and community leadership roles,” said Robert Ward, president of the Hardin Foundation Board of Directors. “He has a deep knowledge of our state, its people, its challenges and opportunities, and a passion for building stronger Mississippi communities. We believe he is an excellent fit to help chart the Hardin Foundation's future.”
A native Mississippian, Gray is a 1972 graduate of Meridian High School and earned a B.A. Degree in History from Millsaps College in 1976. He started in journalism as a sports writer at The Meridian Star at age 16 and began his professional career as a reporter for the Delta Democrat-Times in Greenville. He spent 12 years as a reporter, Capitol correspondent and managing editor for The Sun Herald in Biloxi-Gulfport, before serving as a Mississippi Assistant Secretary of State.
He returned home as editor of The Meridian Star from 1990 to 1992 before moving to Tupelo, where he has served for 23 years as executive editor of the Daily Journal, whose stock is owned by the CREATE Foundation and whose top news and editorial emphasis is education.
Gray is a past president of the Mississippi Press Association and chairman of the MPA Education Foundation board. He has held numerous civic and church leadership roles. He and his wife, Sally, have three grown children.
“I've always had great admiration and appreciation for the mission and work of the Hardin Foundation, and I'm very excited to become a part of one of our state's most respected and effective vehicles for educational philanthropy,” Gray said. “Sally and I look forward to returning to a community that we care about deeply, and to renewing old friendships and making new ones.”
The Phil Hardin Foundation was established in 1964 by the owner of the Meridian-based Hardin Bakeries Corp., with production facilities in Meridian, Jackson, Tupelo and Columbus, as a vehicle for improving the lives of Mississippians through better educational opportunities. Hardin, who died in 1972, recognized the connection between an educated population and business prosperity in Mississippi, and as he sought out innovative methods to improve his business, the Hardin Foundation seeks to encourage and reward educational innovation through its grants.
The Hardin Foundation has assets of $53 million and made grants totaling $2,160,755 in 2014.