Get to know: Will Clegg

Photo of William Clegg.

William “Will” Clegg is the Vice Chair of the Board of Directors at Chattanooga, Tennessee’s CHI Memorial Foundation. He is a partner at Henderson, Hutcherson and McCullough (HHM CPAs), a regional certified public accounting firm with offices in Chattanooga and Memphis.

Will has been heavily involved with the foundation’s signature black-tie event, Pink!, benefitting Memorial’s MaryEllen Locher Breast Center. He initially served as the Co-Chair of the event’s pre-party; as Sponsorship Chair for three years; then, in 2020, he and his wife chaired the event.

What was your first connection to CHI Memorial?
It began as more of a connection to several close friends and family members who have been diagnosed with breast cancer over the years. When my “right hand” at work was diagnosed, we began talking about becoming more involved. Asking for money is a very unique thing and given what we do professionally in the accounting industry, it felt like a sign. That was my initial “why.” Recently a close friend has been diagnosed with stage four cancer and seeing the small miracles Memorial performs daily … I’m humbled to have been asked to have even a small part in what Memorial can make happen for its patients.

How did you come to serve on the foundation’s board?
I was a member-at-large when I chaired Pink! Jennifer [Nicely, CHI Memorial Foundation’s Chief Development Officer] and her team were gracious enough to let me take a reduced role after Pink! because it’s such a big undertaking. I stepped back for a year or two but then, as we were figuring out what the world was like post COVID, I was re-engaged with the board and was fortunate to be selected to be the Chair-Elect/Vice Chair.

What have you learned as a result of your board service and connection to the hospital?
What you see from a community standpoint, not being on the board, is such a small sliver of the care and services provided, not only for patients but also for staff. [As board members] we have the opportunity every month to have a representative from a different part of the hospital come to speak and share their work with us. For example, we heard from Ranjith Babu, MD, about how he is conducting brain surgery while his patients are awake. We are continually able to hear about the work taking place that we’re raising funds for and the lives that are being saved.

Memorial’s team were leaders during COVID, not only in our community but in the region. I can’t even imagine everything they went through. Unfortunately, we lost a very close friend, literally almost a year ago to the day from COVID. I’ll never forget at his funeral service when I was talking to his wife and she knew that I was on the board at Memorial’s foundation. She wanted to make it known, right there at her husband’s service, how great the care was at Memorial not only for him but for the family. You don’t get that every day and everywhere. It’s a tone that is set from the very top of the organization.

What role does gratitude play in your philanthropy and service?
I would say it is validation. The care, and putting the patient first is what I always come back to … but not just the patient. There are difficult times and difficult decisions that families are required to make and the hospital cares for them, too. The care and grace that the staff, doctors and leadership of the hospital provide is second to none. When I hear how great the hospital and the service they provide are, it helps me to not even think twice about raising money because I know all the good it is going to do.

What excites you most about the next five years for the foundation and hospital?
Sometimes I think we take it for granted but this is a world-class health care facility and that’s huge given the times we’re in. Knowing we have these resources in town and that you could be diagnosed with a life-altering disease and receive treatment here, at home, near your family and loved ones is just an amazing source of comfort.

Not every community has that. We’re very fortunate in Chattanooga. The new surgeries and technologies that they’re introducing … five or ten years ago we wouldn’t have had that. We would have had to travel to Atlanta or Dallas. We are so fortunate to have top notch health care available right here.