SAN DIEGO — The American Hospital Association has tabbed a former nurse and current hospital CEO in Virginia as the future leader of its board.

Nancy Howell Agee, chief executive of the Carilion Clinic, has been picked as the hospital group's new chair-elect designate. She’ll assume the role as head of the board in 2018, following in the footsteps of Eugene Woods, president and CEO of Carolinas HealthCare System, Charlotte, N.C. Rick Pollack, president and CEO of the AHA, made the announcement during his opening remarks at the Health Forum Leadership Summit on Sunday.

"Nancy has been providing us with great leadership for many years as a member of the AHA Board of Trustees and a former chair of the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association," Pollack said. "Not only has she made so many valuable contributions, but she brings a practical, patient-centered perspective that comes with being, and having, the heart of a nurse." 

Agee was born at Roanoke Memorial Hospital, the flagship of her eight-hospital system, and she launched her career in care in the early 1970s as a nurse, according to Carilion’s website. She served in several management and executive roles over the years, including as COO and executive vice president of the clinic from 2001 to 2011.

In July of that year, she took over as CEO, a role that she’s been in ever since. She was appointed to the AHA’s board of trustees in 2014 and has served in a slew of roles for the association, including as the AHA commissioner on the Joint Commission board. She also has had governing stints with the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association and Virginia Tech. There’s still a year and half to go before Agee’s term kicks off, but she’s already excited to get started.

“America’s hospitals are leading a transformation in health care and, as chair, I look forward to helping my colleagues as they work to improve the health of their communities,” Agee said in a statement.

Since starting at Carilion as a candy striper and then a nurse, Agee has built a reputation for being hardworking — often putting in 13 to 15 hour days — gregarious and people-oriented, according to a profile in The Roanoke Times.  

“She's just so nice, she just sort of leads you along,” John Williamson, president, chairman and CEO of RGC Resources in Roanoke, told the newspaper. “She's able to move things in a direction easily — that goes to character and personality.”

Agee lives in Salem, Virginia, with her husband, Steve, and son, Zach, according to Carilion.