In his career as a hospital administrator, Bill MacNally climbed the well-known corporate ladder. Starting at small rural hospitals, he worked his way to public teaching hospitals. After nearly 15 years Bill reached the peak of his profession as Senior Vice President of a $2.5 billion not-for-profit integrated healthcare delivery system, holding numerous responsibilities including responsibility for hospital operations, Chief Information Officer, Chief Human Resource Officer and Executive responsible for Y2K. Bill embraced his work, was good at it, and was recognized for it.
A diagnosis of Multiple Sclerosis (MS) led Bill to re-focus his outlook.
“No one dies wishing they had worked just a few more hours,” Bill said. “When I was first diagnosed with MS, I had to change how I viewed life. God had given me a gift of time, and I had to decide what I was going to do with this gift.”
His decision was to take an active involvement in advocacy and charitable work with the same passion he gave to his professional career. In fact, when asked what he enjoys doing in his post-professional life, Bill said, “I love spending time with friends at a volunteer event.”
The list of organizations for which he volunteers is long and varied, and includes community groups, neighborhood associations, and county government boards. His greatest commitment by far, though, is his 13 years of service with the National MS Society. In fact, he has chaired eight committees in his local chapter, each for at least two years, and served on two other committees. Bill said he stays active with MS organizations because of his interest and desire in seeing positive outcomes from research efforts.
“I have tried to approach life doing what I feel passionate about, and I feel that I can make some kind of difference in making the world around me in some small way better,” Bill said. “It is easy to complain and feel sorry for myself, but when I see those less fortunate than me, I know how lucky I am and how much I can still do to make use of my gifts.”
Recognizing his commitment to MS research, a staff member in Minnesota urged Bill to apply for a consumer peer reviewer position with the Department of Defense Multiple Sclerosis Research Program (MSRP). Bill eagerly accepted the opportunity to serve, and welcomed the spirit of mentorship and cooperation provided to peer reviewers.
“Having a mentor was especially helpful just to reassure myself that I was using a valid process and going in the right direction after reviewing the first several proposals,” Bill said. “The staff is great to work with and very non-judgmental in helping you clarify your concerns or supplying you with the information you need to answer a technical question.”
The feeling of collaboration and teamwork is vital, especially if there are differences of opinion. “You have to be willing to speak truth to power even if you are the lone voice in the room,” Bill said. He also recognizes the unique opportunity to help share research on a disease that affects so many people.
“I am very privileged to meet some of the leading scientists from around the country who come together to share their opinion on this research,” Bill said. “This really is hard work, but it is so highly rewarding both personally and for what I am giving back to people with MS.”