Black History Month: The Wesleyan Way: Antoine Poythress ’91

by Eddie Kenny

Antoine Poythress ’91 has always taken what he has learned and stayed the course to achieve incredible success in his career. More importantly, he has never forgotten who helped him along the way, and he is always willing to pay it forward.

Poythress is currently one of only three African American Chief Executive Officers in the state of Georgia’s hospital system. He is the CEO of Jenkins County Medical Center in Millen, Ga. about three hours southeast of Atlanta. His career has seen him expand his leadership portfolio through various finance opportunities in the healthcare and hospital care industry from Georgia to Texas, Mississippi to Pennsylvania, and eventually back home to Georgia.

Poythress grew up in Carrollton, Ga. along with fellow KWC men’s basketball great Corey Crowder ’91. Following a knee injury playing football in high school, Poythress completed a rehab period and then came to KWC in 1988, reuniting with Crowder. The Panther family quickly became a part of a network that helped him start his professional career.

“Wesleyan gave me a great foundation from an educational standpoint,” Poythress stated. “It was the best start you could ask for. The accounting program is outstanding and gave me the background to pass the CPA exam straight out of college.”

Antoine has always continued to give back by sharing his own professional experience with others and adding his name to their network. Among those is Aric Lyons ’23, the son of KWC football teammate Chad Lyons ’92. When he was CEO of Washington County Regional Medical Center in Sandersville, Ga., Poythress hosted Aric for week in the summer of 2020. The young Panther was able to experience firsthand the careers of healthcare professionals that care for the Washington County community and the surrounding counties.

That mentorship was also evident while at KWC, as Poythress took care of younger teammates and classmates, proving to be a resource for their adjustment to college life. One such example is Greg Risch ’93 who calls Poythress his “hero, and an inspiration to me both personally and professionally,” and the strength of the bond remains evident to this day. In November 2021, Poythress made the short journey to Savannah, Ga. to support Risch in the Savannah Rock ‘n’ Roll Marathon. While nasty weather shortened the race, it did not dampen nor prevent the opportunity for the two to visit. There was no doubt some exchange of success stories between the two.

“I am always trying to uplift groups and show that anything is possible with team work,” says Poythress. “A strong hospital in a small county is essential to economic growth and development. This also builds community pride, support and confidence.”

Poythress’ success is an example of how focusing on the importance of treating others with respect cannot be overstated in business and in his person life.  His is an example to follow and a true representation of The Wesleyan Way.