Dr. Regina Benjamin has more than 25 years of health care experience dedicated to providing care to underserved individuals. President Barack Obama appointed her as the 18th United States Surgeon General and served a four-year term. Benjamin currently holds the NOLA.com/Times-Picayune Endowed Chair in Public Health Sciences at Xavier University of New Orleans.
As surgeon general, Benjamin implemented the National Prevention Strategy, shifting the nation from a focus on sickness and disease to one based on wellness and prevention. She advocated for eating nutritiously and breastfeeding, and addressed the dangers of tobacco use. In conjunction with the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention, she released the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention to reduce the number of suicides, a public health issue that results in the deaths of 100 Americans each day. Benjamin joined leaders of five U.S. federal agencies to announce Advancing Healthy Housing: A Strategy for Action, which unifies federal efforts to expand healthy housing, demonstrating the connection between housing conditions and residents’ health. She also strongly promoted the value of health IT systems and electronic health records.
Benjamin served simultaneously as surgeon general and as the first chair of the National Prevention, Health Promotion, and Public Health Council, a consortium of 17 cabinet-level Federal agencies that developed the National Prevention Strategy. During her tenure as surgeon general, Reader’s Digest ranked Benjamin as one of the “100 Most Trusted People in America”.
Prior to her position as surgeon general, Benjamin worked at the rural health clinic she founded in Bayou La Batre, Ala. She kept the clinic in operation during multiple natural disasters including Hurricanes George and Katrina, as well as a devastating fire.
Benjamin is former associate dean for Rural Health at the University of South Alabama College of Medicine in Mobile, Ala., and past chair of the Federation of State Medical Boards of the United States. She was the first physician under age 40, and the first African-American woman, to be elected to the American Medical Association Board of Trustees. She served as president of the American Medical Association Education and Research Foundation and chair of the AMA Council on Ethical and Judicial Affairs. Benjamin was the first African-American female president of a state medical society in the United States when she assumed leadership of the Medical Association State of Alabama.
Benjamin has a bachelor of science in chemistry from Xavier University of Louisiana, a medical degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and a master of business administration degree from Tulane University. She attended Morehouse School of Medicine and completed her family medicine residency in Macon, Georgia. Benjamin is also the recipient of 22 honorary degrees.