A Catalyst for Creativity

Story by Yasmeen Elayan | Photos courtesy of the Creative Energy Group, LLC.


East Tennessee State University stands as a testament to the transformative power of education. Among its staunchest supporters is Tony Treadway, a proud ETSU alumnus and newly appointed Board of Trustees member, whose journey from a first-generation college student to a successful entrepreneur is inspiring a new generation of creative minds.

“My ETSU experience set me up for a successful career that includes ownership of the region’s top advertising firm, Creative Energy, where many of our employees are ETSU graduates,” said Treadway, who was appointed to the ETSU Board of Trustees in 2023 by Gov. Bill Lee. “They’ve helped my firm represent some of the top brands in the world. I’ve worked to give graduates opportunities and guidance to pursue their passions fearlessly.”

Treadway’s story mirrors that of many ETSU students — a tale of determination, hard work, and the pursuit of dreams against all odds. He was the first in his family to attend college, and ETSU provided him with a platform to explore his passion for broadcasting.

His journey at the university laid the foundation for a remarkable career, leading to a decade-long stint in television news and sports at WJHL-TV. His commitment to ETSU didn’t waver, even during the temporary halt of the university’s football program. Treadway, alongside other passionate supporters and President Brian Noland, worked tirelessly to revive it, leaving an indelible mark in the form of the Tony Treadway Press Box at William B. Greene, Jr. Stadium.

Treadway’s commitment to ETSU extends far beyond infrastructure, though. He said his role as a Trustee isn’t just a title; it’s a commitment to giving back. His advocacy for ETSU is not just about numbers; it’s about stories — stories of first-generation graduates, of resilience, and the university’s positive impact on the region and beyond through world-class education empowering student success.

“ETSU is in a great position for continued growth in student enrollment during a period when many universities are experiencing declines,” he said. “The university’s overall graduation rate exceeds the average of all Tennessee locally governed institutions.”

Treadway, President and CEO of Creative Energy, founded the advertising agency where dozens of ETSU graduates go beyond the classroom and make their mark in the world.

“There were incredible odds against us. Our vision was to represent top national brands from a region we proudly call home — far from the bustling city lights. With more than 30 years in business at Creative Energy, we turned that ambition into a reality, and we’re living our dream,” said Treadway.

His message to students is clear: Believe in yourself, take risks, and never stop chasing your dreams.

In Treadway, ETSU has found not just a Trustee but a torchbearer of its spirit — a reminder that with determination and unwavering support, dreams can become reality.

“While my blood runs Buccaneer blue and gold, I’m seldom blue myself because I’ve been so blessed,” Treadway added. 

ETSU Shield and Creative Energy logos joined by a multiplier graphic


Read more incredible stories in the Winter 2024 Edition of ETSU Today. #BucsGoBeyond

ETSU Today | Winter 2024

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