Who: Dr. Regina Benjamin, 59
New role: Board member, Kaiser Foundation Health Plan and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals.
Background: Benjamin served as U.S. surgeon general from 2009 to 2013, establishing the country's first-ever National Prevention Strategy during her tenure. Currently, she serves as CEO of BayouClinic, a rural health clinic she founded in Bayou La Batre, Ala., and as chair of public health sciences at Xavier University of Louisiana in New Orleans.
Kaiser as model for preventive care: “We have to see as a nation what we can learn from this large health system. Their outcomes and quality numbers are quite impressive—can we translate some of the things they're doing well to the rest of the nation?”
Studying health in the South: In 2014, Benjamin established the Gulf States Collaborative Center for Health Policy Research to study the region's poor health outcomes. “We know that we have good academic health centers, good facilities ... yet our rankings are so low. We're trying to see if health policies can improve that.”
Training more minority providers: Benjamin said the U.S. needs to do “whatever we can” to educate young minorities in science and math while exposing them to healthcare careers. At Xavier, a historically black college, she is developing a new curriculum to give undergraduates exposure to public health sciences before medical school.