Knight Foundation Names New Program Director for Lexington

MIAMI — Laura Williams has joined the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation as program director for Lexington, overseeing all grant making there. Williams brings more than 16 years of executive-level experience in the public and nonprofit sectors to the post.

Prior to joining Knight, Williams spent a decade at The Council of State Governments, where she most recently held the dual positions of deputy director and director of communications. At the council, she oversaw efforts to help state governments identify national trends impacting their work and to improve their decision-making and leadership skills.

“Laura’s well-demonstrated understanding of nonprofits and her knowledge about the city she has called home for the last 32 years, promises to bring new vitality to Knight’s work in Lexington,” said Susan Patterson, director of Knight’s Community Partners Program.

Williams is a member of the board of directors for Westmorland Neighborhood Association; the Center for Creative Living, an adult daycare; and Opportunities for Work and Learning, a nonprofit association. A Kentucky native, she earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism at the University of Kentucky.

In addition to Williams, Knight Foundation welcomes Matthew Bergheiser as the new  program director for Philadelphia, where he will be responsible for all area grant making. Bergheiser has worked on economic and urban development in New Jersey and Pennsylvania for over 10 years, most recently as executive director for Trenton Downtown Association, where he used the arts to fuel downtown redevelopment. Previously,  he served as executive vice president of The Enterprise Center in Philadelphia, where he worked to stimulate business opportunities in the city’s distressed urban communities.

Bergheiser earned a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University and holds a master’s of business administration from the Wharton School of Business at the University of Pennsylvania.

“With their long records of executive responsibility and outstanding results in their communities, our new program directors are prepared to advance the process of transformation in their communities,” Patterson said.

The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation promotes journalism excellence worldwide and invests in the vitality of Lexington, Philadelphia and other communities where the Knight brothers owned newspapers. To see and hear stories of Knight’s transformational funding, visit