Knoxvillian elected to Knights’ board of directors

Mike Wills of All Saints Council 15076 will serve as one of the organization’s 24 directors worldwide

MEMBER OF THE BOARD Mike Wills is the first Knights of Columbus supreme director from the Diocese of Knoxville. Photo by Bill Brewer

MEMBER OF THE BOARD Mike Wills is the first Knights of Columbus supreme director from the Diocese of Knoxville. Photo by Bill Brewer

The Knights of Columbus will have a supreme director from the Diocese of Knoxville for the first time in the diocese’s history.

Mike Wills, a member of All Saints Council 15076 in Knoxville, was elected to the organization’s board of directors Aug. 7 at the Knights of Columbus Supreme Convention in San Antonio, Texas. He is only the second Knight in recent memory from Tennessee to serve on the board.

In his newly elected position, Mr. Wills will be one of 24 directors worldwide who advise the international Catholic organization and help govern its fraternal, charitable and insurance operations. The Knights of Columbus was formed in 1882 to render financial aid to members and their families. While mutual aid and assistance are offered to sick, disabled and needy members and their families, social and intellectual fellowship is promoted among members and their families through educational, charitable, religious, social-welfare, war-relief and public-relief works.

Mr. Wills noted that the five supreme officers who manage the Knights of Columbus are named from the board of directors.

The Knights of Columbus has 1.8 million members around the world. In Tennessee, there are 11,250 Knights of Columbus, and Mr. Wills credited fellow Diocese of Knoxville Knights Bill Wicke and Tracy Staller, who have served as state deputies.

According to Mr. Wills, insurance is one of three legs of the Knights of Columbus tripod. The other two are providing opportunities for men to work as Catholics in their parishes, and to support parish priests, bishops and the pope.

The Knights of Columbus offers a wide range of insurance plans such as life, long-term care, and annuities. Mr. Wills pointed out that this Knights of Columbus division, which has more than $90 billion in insurance in force, has among the highest ratings of any insurance company in the country and is ranked on the Fortune list of top 1,000 U.S. companies.

Despite the high-ranking position and responsibility that goes with it, Mr. Wills isn’t intimidated by his new role.

“I don’t think it’s daunting. Because of my work and experience as an attorney for TVA and my experience with the Knights of Columbus I am prepared for this. I see what I’m going to be doing as similar to what I did with the Tennessee Valley Authority. I think that experience is one of the reasons I was selected to the Knights of Columbus board,” he said.

Mr. Wills will serve a three-year term on the board and can be re-elected three times; however, he can’t serve more than nine years. The board will meet four to six times a year in locations around the world to make decisions on matters like making emergency contributions following natural disasters. He said the Knights provided more than $100,000 in relief to Nashville after the 2010 flood and to Oklahoma after recent tornados.

Mr. Wills, who has been a Knight since 1983, is encouraged by growth in Knights of Columbus membership and believes the expansion of membership rolls is part of a strategy where Knights councils are becoming parish-based as opposed to stand-alone groups with ties to parishes.

He believes the new council model resonates with potential members.

“I think there is an emphasis where men are dealing with questions of faith and the Church. These men want to serve their church and parish,” he said, adding that access to good insurance is another draw. “Being in the Knights has given me the opportunity to meet other Catholic men, share my faith, and serve others beyond my family — my parish.”