Nancy Agee

Nancy Howell Agee, a native of Roanoke, was born in the very hospital that she now leads. The only daughter of Jo Ann Oney Howell and William Edward Howell, Nancy was born in 1952 at the then Crippled Children’s Hospital. Later there would be two brothers Richard William (Rick) and Gary.  Nancy’s mother was a native of Williamson, West Virginia.  Her father’s parents were from Harlen, Kentucky, moving to Roanoke so her grandfather could work for the railroad.  Her dad worked as a meat cutter for Mick or Mack Grocery Store, as did her paternal grandmother, Rena Kennedy Howell, a strong force in her life.  

 Nancy’s attended Virginia Heights Elementary School and Mt. Vernon High School for 7th grade graduating from Cave Spring High School in June 1970. Nancy remembers her high school experience as a Junior Achievement student in the Company Program creating a box from rubber bands that could be reused as a bank. She was offered a full scholarship to the University of Virginia, the first-year women were admitted. Her parents were uncomfortable with the idea, so she enrolled in the Roanoke Memorial School of Nursing in the fall of 1970.  After completing the three-year diploma program, she graduated as a Registered Nurse in 1973.  She went on to earn a BS in Nursing from University of Virginia in 1979.

 While a student at UVA, Nancy worked her summers in Roanoke writing a National Institute of Health (NIH) grant to support the then- novel idea of cancer care in non-university settings.  The award, one of only twelve, was made while Nancy was a student in the Master of Science program at Emory University that she earned in 1981. Upon completion of her Masters, she was recruited and served as the director of the newly NIH funded cancer grant in Roanoke which served all the hospitals in the region.

 In 1983, Nancy wed her high school friend, Steve Agee, at Grandin Court Baptist Church in Roanoke.  At the time of their marriage Steve was a Delegate to the Virginia General Assembly and in 2003, Judge Agee was elected to the prestigious Supreme Court of Virginia by a bipartisan vote by both chambers of the Virginia General Assembly.  The couple became parents in 1987 with the birth of their son, Zachary Steven.

Before becoming CEO of Carillion Clinic, a nearly $2 billion not-for-profit integrated health system headquartered in Roanoke, Ms. Agee served as executive vice president and chief operating officer. During this time, she oversaw day-to-day procedures and practice “servant leadership” combined with “ego strength” while stewarding the $1.5 billion operation.  Of the numerous facility and service expansions and technology innovations that she has witnessed, aided or orchestrated in her many years of service to Carilion Clinic, there are a few standouts such as  the advent of cardiac catheterization and cardiac surgery, electronic medical health records, developing an educational arm for the health professions locally through the Jefferson College of Health Sciences, and the monumental development of evolving from a hospital system to a clinic model with a large physician group, hospitals and other business lines.  Nancy is proud of the accomplishments and opportunities of the newest economic development engine for the Roanoke and New River Valleys:  the Carilion/Virginia Tech School of Medicine and Research Institute is bringing world-renowned physicians, researchers, and staff into our region to pursue the highest levels of complex patient care, medical education, and research.  

During her tenure as COO, she co-led Carilion’s reorganization from a collection of hospitals to a fully integrated, physician-led clinic. The reorganization resulted in a partnership with Virginia Tech to create an allopathic medical school and research institute. Carilion Clinic now includes seven hospitals ranging from the third largest in Virginia to mid-sized community and small rural or critical access hospitals. Carilion also operates complementary business lines, including home health, imaging services, pharmacies, and freestanding surgical clinics; and has a large physician group with more than 1,000 employed physicians.

Ms. Agee is a nationally recognized leader in health care, perennially named one of the Top 100 Most Influential People in Healthcare and the Top 25 Women in Healthcare by Modern Healthcare. Ms. Agee has served on the Board of Commissioners for The Joint Commission (an international hospital accreditation organization) and is a past chair of the American Hospital Association (a membership organization representing the nation’s 5,000 hospitals), the Virginia Hospital and Healthcare Association and the Virginia Center for Health Innovation.

Nancy unwinds by reading health care and education papers, novels, and biographies.  She reluctantly admits to picking up the weekly People magazine as soon as it hits the stores.  In her quiet times she is always accompanied by her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Henry, and will travel whenever she has the opportunity.  She serves on numerous Boards and emphasizes her commitment to action not just a title. 

Nancy Agee was inducted into the Southwest Virginia Business Hall of Fame in 2014.

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