Dr. Herman Williams and his wife Jeannie

NASHVILLE, TN — The Greater Nashville American Heart Association is pleased to announce Dr. Herman Williams and his wife, Jeannie Williams, as the co-chairs for the 2019 Middle Tennessee Heart Gala set for January 26, 2019 at the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, the premier event’s 45th year. Additionally, Becky and Dick Cowart will be presented with the annual Martin E. Simmons Award honoring their impact on the mission and tradition of the Heart Gala.

Dr. Williams has deep personal connections to the mission of the American Heart and American Stroke Association. He suffered a cardiac arrest at age 31 during his orthopedic surgery residency while he was playing in a basketball game with his co-residents. He was resuscitated by his colleague using bystander CPR and ultimately had an internal defibrillator implanted. Some years later in 2013, he also suffered a stroke and fully recovered. As if two miraculous reveries were not enough, in 2017, he had a second cardiac arrest at the Nashville International Airport and was saved, once again, by bystander CPR.

“Because of our personal connection as a family to heart disease and stroke, we know how important it is to bring more attention to this worthy cause. My husband is alive today because of what the American Heart and American Stroke Association has done in our community.  We’re looking forward to leading the Heart Association’s mission this year and support the fight against heart disease and stroke,” states Jeannie Williams.

“I’ve had the privilege to work with the Greater Nashville American Heart and American Stroke Association for several years and am a great supporter of their work due to my personal experience with heart disease and stroke throughout my life. The mission especially hit home for me when I suffered a second sudden cardiac arrest at the Nashville Airport and my life was saved using bystander CPR, something the American Heart and American Stroke Association has worked tirelessly to teach,” states Dr. Williams.

Herman is an active board member for the American Heart and Stroke Association, and he is a senior hospital executive with extensive healthcare expertise that includes the management and operations of large and small-scale national clinics and hospitals over the span of his 17-year career. He most recently served as Executive Vice President and Chief Clinical Officer at RCCH Healthcare Partners. Dr. Williams holds a Doctor of Medicine from Boston University School of Medicine, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Washington and a Master in Public Health from Harvard University. He is a Board-Certified Coach and holds the advanced coaching certificate of Professional Certified Coach (PCC) from the International Coach Federation (ICF).

Dr. and Mrs. Williams currently reside in Nashville, Tennessee, and have a 23-year old son, Cole.

For over 35 years, Becky and Dick Cowart have advanced the American Heart Association’s mission across the Southeast. Dick has chaired local and state fundraising campaigns and the Board of Directors for the Mississippi Chapter before joining the Greater Nashville Board of Directors, chairing twice. He has served as a member of the Middle Tennessee leadership for over 15 years. Becky chaired the Mississippi Chapter’s signature fundraiser, Art for Heart, and led volunteers in what is now known as the Heart Walk. They were early supporters of the American Stroke Association as an equally important mission. Early promoters of Go Red for Women, the Cowarts have encouraged countless individuals in Middle Tennessee to join their efforts in fighting heart disease and stroke. Their daughter, Claire Cowart Haltom, in continuation of her family’s commitment, formed the Pulse Board as a way for the American Heart Association to engage the next generation of philanthropic leaders.

Professionally, Dick has chaired the Health Law and Public Policy Department of Baker Donelson for over 25 years. He has used this role to advocate for many of AHA’s public policy goals and highlight the organization’s successes.  The Cowarts are prior recipients of the American Heart Association’s Silver Distinguished Service Award, the Heart of Gold Award, and are proud members of the Cor Vitae Society.

The American Heart Association was inspired to create the Martin E. Simmons Award to honor his legacy of selfless giving and the impact he made on the mission of the association in Middle Tennessee.

Simmons, a noted attorney and founder of several law firms in the Nashville area, was active in many community organizations, boards and philanthropic causes. As a volunteer for the American Heart Association, he served as chairman of the large firms division for the American Heart Association’s Middle Tennessee annual fund drive, chairman of the Davidson County Heart Fund campaign and in many other capacities over the years. His leadership and his generosity set the example for others to follow and advanced the association’s mission to be a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives.

For more than 45 years, the Heart Gala has supported the American Heart Association’s mission of building healthier lives free of cardiovascular diseases and stroke, the number one and number five killers of all Americans.