Kaiser Permanente, the Oakland, Calif.-based healthcare giant, has named former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin to its board of directors.
Benjamin, 59, began her role on the boards of the Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and the Kaiser Foundation Hospitals on Monday. She currently serves as CEO of BayouClinic, a rural health clinic she founded in Bayou La Batre, Ala., and chair of public health sciences at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans.
While serving as surgeon general between 2009 and 2013, Benjamin led the Obama administration's push to reduce the rates of preventable illness, establishing the country's first-ever National Prevention Strategy and leading the National Prevention Council, a group of 20 federal departments, agencies and offices brought together by the Affordable Care Act to develop a plan to improve the nation's health.
Benjamin stepped down in July 2013 and was later replaced by Dr. Vivek Murthy, who continues to serve as surgeon general after he was narrowly confirmed in December, over a year after being nominated by the president.
Kaiser's board is a significant move for Benjamin, but it's not the only board she's served on since finishing her term as surgeon general. She was appointed to health information technology firm Alere's board in 2013, as well as Catholic not-for-profit health system Ascension's board in September.
Benjamin was the first African-American woman and the first physician under 40 to be elected to the American Medical Association's board of trustees in 1995. She became the first African-American female president of a state medical society in the U.S. when she was elected as president of the Medical Association of the State of Alabama in 2002.
Modern Healthcare has frequently named Benjamin in its Top 25 Women in Healthcare and 50 Most Influential Physician Executives and Leaders lists. She was recognized on both lists in 2013.