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Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center Announces CEO Succession Plan

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Dr. Jonas Fontenot to Succeed Todd Stevens as CEO of Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center in January 2023

BATON ROUGE, La. – Today, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center announces that Jonas Fontenot, Ph.D., M.B.A, will begin serving as President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) in January 2023. Fontenot currently serves as chief operating officer and the Dr. Charles M. Smith chief of physics. The transition is the culmination of a succession plan adopted by the Board to succeed Todd Stevens, the Cancer Center’s longtime CEO. Stevens will transition his time to concentrate on strategic business development and growth opportunities to advance Mary Bird Perkins’ mission across its regional network. “Managing the largest cancer care organization in the state requires a thoughtful and orderly succession planning process,” said Tom Meek, M.D., past Board chair, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. “We built the foundation of today’s announcement almost a decade ago and I am certain that Dr. Fontenot is the absolute right choice to lead Mary Bird Perkins into the future.”

Dr. FontenotFontenot is an accomplished scientist, clinician, educator and key member of executive leadership. His blend of clinical experience, scientific achievement, healthcare policy experience, and corporate management acumen are ideal to advance the organization’s mission. Fontenot is a board-certified medical physicist who has held more than $4 million in funding from federal and industry sponsors. He is an author of more than 50 peer-reviewed research papers published in international journals, inventor of innovative cancer therapy technologies currently used in clinical practice, and mentored dozens of graduate students and residents.

Nationally, he has served on the editorial board of major scientific journals, serves on research grant review panels for the National Institute of Health’s cancer research programs and is active on several councils that review and advise Medicare on healthcare policy. Fontenot was the first medical physicist selected by the American Society for Radiation Oncology (ASTRO) to receive the ASTRO Health Policy Fellowship designation.

Fontenot strongly values the Cancer Center’s culture of philanthropy and has been instrumental in helping inspire philanthropic support as a champion for the Take the Fight Forward Initiative, Adaptive Radiation Therapy Program and Dr. Charles M. Smith Medical Physics Program, in addition to establishing key resources in support of innovative technology like the Gamma Knife Icon. All of these milestone gifts and many others have helped to advance cancer care in the communities Mary Bird Perkins serves.

“It will be an honor and a privilege to lead Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center,” said Fontenot. “I am excited to represent the most talented and dedicated cancer care staff and oncology physicians in the Gulf South. We are uniquely positioned to support cancer patients across our communities and I look forward to building on Todd’s legacy to ensure Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center continues to live its mission to improve survivorship and lessen the burden of cancer.”

“Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center is well positioned for dynamic growth that will benefit cancer patients and communities throughout Louisiana,” said Tom Adamek, current Board Chair. “Todd’s experience and forward-looking leadership has built Mary Bird Perkins into a nationally recognized cancer care organization. The entire Board is thrilled for Dr. Fontenot to lead the organization into the future and continue to elevate the state of cancer care in Louisiana, and beyond.”

Fontenot succeeds Stevens, who transformed Mary Bird Perkins over his 23-year tenure, first envisioning and then building and assembling a team of talented professionals who have established programs focused on advancing patient care, research, education, and cancer outreach. Stevens’ fundamental belief that everyone should have local access to high-quality cancer care has been the catalyst for Mary Bird Perkins realizing its vision to become Louisiana’s leading cancer care organization.

Stevens’ focus on local access to quality cancer care has led to innovative partnerships that have established comprehensive cancer programs that are impacting every aspect of the cancer care continuum. These efforts have resulted in the provision of vital education, early detection and treatment services to communities across Louisiana and Southwest Mississippi. As the Cancer Center’s footprint has expanded, its vision, mission, and services have also increased, now serving more than 5,800 new patients each year.

Throughout his tenure, Stevens spearheaded the recruitment of expert physicians and care team talent and the investment in state-of-the-art facilities focused on patient-centered care and leading-edge technology. He also drove the organization’s emphasis on early detection resulting in the establishment of Mary Bird Perkins’ Prevention on the Go outreach program, which has provided more than 100,000 free cancer screenings and access to navigation services.

During Stevens’ tenure, the groundbreaking Mary Bird Perkins – LSU Medical Physics partnership was formed, opening up new and exciting areas of cancer research and educational opportunities in the highly-specialized field of medical physics. He was also instrumental in Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center’s participation in two National Cancer Institute programs – the NCI Community Cancer Center Program (NCCCP) which enhanced community cancer care across the country and NCI’s Community Oncology Research Program, an initiative increasing access to clinical trials for Gulf Coast residents.  

 “It has been a privilege to lead Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center for the past 23 years. I have had the opportunity to work with an incredible team of healthcare professionals and hundreds of stakeholders who share a passion to lessen the burden of cancer,” said Stevens. “I am excited about the future of the organization under Dr. Fontenot’s leadership and look forward to dedicating my time to building relationships with physicians and organizations to grow Mary Bird Perkins’ network.”

Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center is planning a series of events to celebrate Mary Bird Perkins’ progress during Stevens tenure as CEO.

About Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center
Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center is a regional cancer care organization that has been fighting cancer for more than 50 years. The cancer care organization provides care at nine centers in Baton Rouge, Covington, Hammond, Houma, Gonzales, Slidell, and Natchez, Mississippi, and its service area encompasses southeast Louisiana and southwest Mississippi regions. Mary Bird Perkins has a strategic affiliation with OneOncology and the largest radiation and medical oncology groups from across the area including exclusive partnerships with Southeastern Louisiana Radiation Oncology Group, which provides radiation therapy throughout Mary Bird Perkins’ service areas, Northshore Oncology Associates, serving St. Tammany and Washington Parishes, specifically the communities of Covington and Slidell and Louisiana Hematology Oncology Associates, which services the Greater Baton Rouge area. For more information, please visit www.marybird.org.