The work Chris Jones has led in overseeing Middle Tennessee Electric gained national recognition Monday.
As the chief executive officer and president of Murfreesboro-based MED, Jones received the 2022 J.C. Brown CEO Communication Leadership Award while attending the National Rural Electric Cooperative Association’s CEO Close-Up Conference in Phoenix.
“It was quite an honor,” Jones said. "I don’t know that I was deserving, but it was so much appreciated. It was very humbling to be recognized.”
Jones said he’s spent his career as a communicator after earning a degree in communications at the University of Tennessee and initially pursuing a career as a journalist in the late 1980s and early 1990s. He was a news editor at the Winchester Herald-Chronical and a reporter at the Tullahoma News.
In 1999, he accepted a job at MTE as a communications coordinator and vice president of communications and member services before the utility promoted him to CEO in 2013.
“Communication is complex work, and it’s never been more important than it is today," Jones said. "I have a lot left to learn.”
Murfreesboro mayor praises Jones
The national award recognizes an electric cooperative or public power district CEO/general manager committed to advancing communication.
Jones in 2015 also won a Pinnacle Award from Leadership Rutherford, a Rutherford County Chamber of Commerce professional development service.
Jones and other utility staff worked with Murfreesboro officials to buy the city's electric department in 2020 on a 15-year payment plan that totals about $302 million.
Murfreesboro Mayor Shane McFarland praised the efforts of Jones in reaching an agreement on a purchase that also required approval from the Tennessee Valley Authority.
"He was a big reason why I felt comfortable Murfreesboro Electric would be in good hands moving forward," McFarland said.
"Of all the people I've worked with in government service, Chris Jones is one of the most ethical and honest people I've ever dealt with."
Jones works to provide broadband to rural areas and local governments
Jones also has worked with United Communications, which is majority owned by MTE, to provide internet services to rural areas, as well as the Smyrna and La Vergne governments.
United Communications consultant Jeff Davidson said Jones spearheaded efforts to persuade the Tennessee General Assembly to allow cooperatives to provide higher speed broadband services at a lower price than communication companies.
"His priority is to those people who are unserved and underserved at the same time," said Davidson, who previously served as deputy to former Rutherford County Mayor Ernest Burgess.
"The more I work with Chris Jones the more I'm impressed. He's not only a leader. He's a visionary."
Reach reporter Scott Broden with news tips or questions through email, firstname.lastname@example.org, or phone, 615-278-5158. Follow him on Twitter @ScottBroden.
About Middle Tennessee Electric (MTE)
Founded in 1936, MTE is the largest electric cooperative in the Tennessee Valley Authority region and the second largest in the United States, serving more than 750,000 Tennesseans in 11 counties — primarily Rutherford, Cannon, Williamson and Wilson counties. Municipalities served include Murfreesboro, Franklin, Brentwood, Smyrna, Lavergne, Lebanon and Mt. Juliet. MTE employs 520 people in seven local offices and its Murfreesboro headquarters.
This article originally appeared on Murfreesboro Daily News Journal: Middle Tennessee Electric leader Chris Jones wins national award