BATON ROUGE, La. (March 15, 2016) - The National Senior Games Association (NSGA) is pleased to welcome former U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin as a new Trustee for the NSGA Foundation.

Benjamin, who served as the 18th United States Surgeon General from 2009-2013, was unanimously approved to join the foundation board by the NSGA Board of Directors at its recent annual meeting. The NSGA Foundation functions as the health and wellness research and advocacy arm of NSGA, which governs The National Senior Games, the largest qualified multi-sport event in the world for people 50 and over.

“Our organization has made it a priority to bring in more people of capacity to advance our foundation mission,” NSGA CEO Marc T. Riker said. “Dr. Benjamin brings not only a wealth of medical knowledge, but also a great deal of experience in guiding practical policy making that will be an asset to our Board of Trustees.”

From her early days as the founder of a rural health clinic in Alabama to her leadership role in the worldwide advancement of preventive health, Benjamin has forged a career that has been recognized by a broad spectrum of organizations and publications. In 1995, she was the first physician under the age of 40 and the first African-American woman to be elected to the American Medical Association Board of Trustees. Other past board memberships included the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Kaiser Family Foundation Commission on Medicaid and the Uninsured, Catholic Health Association, and Morehouse School of Medicine.

Benjamin is the Founder and CEO of BayouClinic, Inc. in Alabama, and the Picayune Endowed Chair of Public Health Sciences at Xavier University of Louisiana. She has a BS in chemistry from Xavier, attended Morehouse School of Medicine, earned an MD degree from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, and obtained an MBA from Tulane University.

In 1998, Benjamin was the United States recipient of the Nelson Mandela Award for Health and Human Rights. She received the 2000 National Caring Award, which was inspired by Mother Teresa and was recognized with the Papal honor Pro Ecclesia et Ponticifice from Pope Benedict XVI. She was honored with a MacArthur Genius Award Fellowship and the recipient of the Chairman’s Award at the 42nd NAACP Image Awards. She has been chosen as a Kellogg National Fellow and Rockefeller Next Generation Leader, and is the recipient of 24 honorary degrees. In May 2013, Reader’s Digest, ranked her #22 of the “100 Most Trusted People in America.”

In the past, Riker noted the foundation’s trustees have generally been drawn from the NSGA Board of Directors and key volunteers from among the 51 NSGA member organizations that stage qualifying games for the biennial National Senior Games. However, in recent years NSGA leadership decided that more input from medical, sociological and corporate professionals was needed to help mature the foundation.

In 2014, Dr. Pamela Peeke, a New York Times best-selling author and senior fitness and nutrition expert, joined as an NSGA Foundation trustee. The result is a pending research study based on a survey of more than 4,200 senior athletes who reported results from a “fitness age test” that will show the benefits of maintaining a highly active lifestyle throughout life. “There is not very much research that has been done on healthy and fit seniors like our athletes, and the foundation will seek partnerships and advocate for more research of this type,” Riker said