Former U.S. Surgeon General Regina Benjamin to Discuss Disparities in Public Health in next EngenuitySC Competitiveness Series Event

Dr. Benjamin will discuss social determinants to public health and address practices that narrow the health gap in free online event

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(Columbia, SC) – EngenuitySC will host Regina M. Benjamin, MD, MBA, who served as the 18th U.S. surgeon general (2009-2013), in a discussion on disparities in public health and how to narrow the gap. The virtual event is free, open to the public and will take place on Zoom Webinar on Wednesday, Apr. 14 at 12:00 P.M.

The event will be moderated by Tisha Felder, Ph.D. and MSW, researcher and faculty at the University of South Carolina and co-founder of Mocha Mommas Milk. Participants will be able to submit questions via Zoom during the event, and Benjamin will hold a brief Q&A session at the end.

While the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to light the importance of public health, it has been a long time metric for economic success and competitiveness of an area. For instance, the Gallup-Sharecare Well-Being Index – an annual survey of physical, community, social, purpose and financial well-being – is one metric used to determine the Livability Index in the annual Midlands Regional Competitiveness Report. The report, produced by EngenuitySC, measures the Columbia MSA’s relative competitiveness to its peer cities in the Southeast.

“Public health isn’t just a public health issue. It’s an economic development issue: do companies want to come to a location if diabetes, heart disease or other impacts on their health insurance will affect their bottom line? It’s a community development issue: do we have safe places to walk or bike for enjoyment or for getting around town? It’s an equity and equality issue: does everyone have the same access to healthcare, healthy food, and safety?” says Elise Partin, Mayor of Cayce, S.C. and current EngenuitySC board chair. Mayor Partin is also a graduate of and an adjunct professor in the Arnold School of Public Health at the University of South Carolina.

“As business leaders and community leaders, we can make a further positive impact that has ripple effects through all aspects of our region,” continued Mayor Partin.

Ben Green, President and COO of Insurance Advantage and EngenuitySC Board Member, will open up the event and introduce the importance of public health in our region as an indicator of competitive communities.

The event is free and open to the public, but advance registration is required:

Dr. Regina M. Benjamin and Dr. Tisha Felder: Public Health Experts

Benjamin is a national leader in preventative health, fighting health disparities and developing innovative community-based strategies for low-income and rural communities. As a rural family doctor serving poor communities, Dr. Benjamin has spent her career seeing the impact of healthcare disparities and the social determinants of health on several generations of patients in her community. She knows it’s well-documented and researched that your ZIP code is a better predictor of your health and longevity than your genetic code. As Surgeon General and founder and CEO of the Gulf States Health Policy Center, Dr. Benjamin has been the driving force behind research and policies to promote equity and access. Taking a public and population health perspective, she reviews the range of social determinants, ranging from income and education, to the poor conditions of neighborhoods and recreational opportunities. Dr. Benjamin also explores practices and policies that will narrow the health gap.

Felder is an Assistant Professor and Researcher in the College of Nursing at the University of South Carolina (UofSC) and Cancer Prevention and Control Program at UofSC Arnold School of Public Health. Felder’s research focuses on two key areas: 1) encouraging breastfeeding among African American moms to reduce their risk of getting breast cancer; and 2) creating ways to improve the hormone therapy experiences of women with breast cancer. Dr. Felder’s research has attracted federal funding from the National Cancer Institute (2015-2020), and she has presented her work at several conferences, both regionally and nationally. In 2019, she was recognized for her research accomplishments as a 2019 Breakthrough Star at UofSC and named one of the 2019 “40 Under 40 Leaders in Health” from the National Minority Quality Forum in Washington, D.C.

A native of Easley, SC, Dr. Felder received her B.A. in Sociology from Wake Forest University (2001), Master of Social Work from University of Michigan-Ann Arbor (2002) and a PhD in Behavioral Sciences from the University of Texas Health Science Center School of Public Health in Houston in 2010.

EngenuitySC’s Competitiveness Series Explores Columbia’s Successes, Opportunities

This event is part of EngenuitySC’s Competitiveness Series, a collection of events that focus on the Columbia region’s opportunities and achievements. The series is sponsored by BlueCross BlueShield of South Carolina and Dominion Energy. The Competitiveness Series is an annual initiative of EngenuitySC, a nonprofit that works to make the Columbia, S.C., region a standout choice for top talent and competitive companies. The Competitiveness Series kicked off in January with the launch of the 2021 Midlands Regional Competitiveness Report. The 2021 report can be viewed here:

After the Public Health event on Apr. 14, EngenuitySC’s Competitiveness Series will continue through with a Workforce Equity workshop, presented in partnership with Midlands Business Leadership Group, and sponsored by Chernoff Newman – on April 27 via Zoom. Register in advance at

Complete details for all events that are part of the series can be found at

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