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Monty Burks, CPRS, PLC, PhD, serves as the Director of Faith-Based Initiatives for the Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, where his role is engaging and connecting Tennessee’s faith communities to the behavioral health care system, with the goal of expanding addiction and mental health support services across the state. He also oversees the Tennessee Lifeline Peer Project, a state program aimed at reducing the stigma associated with people who suffer from addiction and the Tennessee Faith Based Community Coordinators, whom seek to help congregations build their capacity to combat addiction and mental health issues in their respective community.
Dr. Burks earned his master’s degree in criminal justice from Middle Tennessee State University, his Doctorate in theology from Heritage, and wears the honorable badge of Certified Peer Recovery Specialist. Burks has more than 20 years’ experience working with the criminal justice system in various roles, including adjunct criminal justice professor at Motlow State Community College, Criminal Justice Student Research Analyst at Middle Tennessee State University, and Criminal Justice Program coordinator and adjunct professor at Tennessee State University.
Previously, Dr. Burks served as a program coordinator, job placement specialist, and cognitive skills instructor with Middle Tennessee Rural Reentry, earning national recognition as the “Outstanding Professional of the Year” from the Southern Criminal Justice Association for helping ex-offenders break down employment barriers.
Dr. Burks belongs to several professional organizations including the Tennessee Supreme Court: Access to Justice Commission, Tennessee Government Leadership Council, Southern Criminal Justice Association (SCJA), Child Development and Family Studies Advisory Board (MTSU), Meharry Vanderbilt Faith Alliance, and The Davidson County Behavioral Health Advisory Committee.
In his spare time, Dr. Burks practices and teaches Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, Mixed Martial Arts, and Muay Thai kickboxing. Utilizing martial arts as a platform to discuss, promote, and engage diverse communities on the conversations around mental health and emotional fitness!