Mary Bird Perkins’ Johnnay Benjamin Nationally Recognized for Her Dedication to Community Service

(Baton Rouge, La.) – The Prevent Cancer Foundation recently recognized Johnnay Benjamin, director of early detection and education, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center, as a leader in cancer prevention and early detection by naming her the recipient of the 2020 Laurel Award for Dedication to Community Service. The Laurel Awards are presented annually to leaders from around the country in health equity, national leadership and community service.

Since joining the Cancer Center in 2010, Benjamin has played a pivotal role in managing the Cancer Center’s community prevention, education and early detection initiative, Prevention on the Go, and has taken the established program to new levels of success. She has provided strategic guidance for the program, analyzing trends and creating action plans to help bring lifesaving screenings to those at highest risk in the most disadvantaged areas. During Benjamin’s tenure, the Prevention on the Go program has screened 59,000 individuals, bringing the overall total since the initiative began in 2002 to nearly 100,000 screenings. She has also expanded the Cancer Center’s signature large-scale Baton Rouge outreach event, Fest for Life, to appeal to a broader audience and expanded it to other Mary Bird Perkins locations in Ascension, St. Tammany and Terrebonne parishes.

“Johnnay is extremely passionate about improving the health and wellbeing of every member of our community,” says Renea Duffin, vice president, cancer support and outreach, Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center. “She is always willing to go above and beyond to accelerate the Cancer Center’s mission to improve survivorship and lessen the burden on cancer. Johnnay and her Prevention on the Go team spends many of their nights and weekends at community cancer screenings, which are held during times and at locations most convenient for the participants. Her unwavering commitment to enhance cancer prevention and early detection on the community level makes her the perfect recipient for the Laurel Award for Dedication to Community Service.”

To further expand her education and leadership abilities, Johnnay recently enrolled in the Doctorate of Public Health Program at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, which was recently ranked number one in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. In addition to Benjamin’s Bachelor of Science degree in public health from Dillard University and Masters of Public Health from Tulane University School of Public Health, she is also a 2017 graduate of the Baton Rouge Area Chamber of Commerce’s Leadership Program.

“I am extremely grateful to the Prevent Cancer Foundation for this humbling honor,” says Benjamin. “This recognition reflects the commitment of the Prevention on the Go team and I am very appreciative of their efforts to make these screenings happen. Our focus will always be to help bring the community together and educate people on cancer prevention and screenings. More and more we are learning that people are not receiving their recommended cancer screenings due to a lack of time, awareness or other barriers, which can result in cancers going undetected. At Mary Bird Perkins, we believe every person should have convenient access to high quality prevention and early detection services.”

To learn more about the Cancer Center’s Prevention on the Go program, visit or call (225) 215-1234 to learn about a cancer screening near you.


About The Prevent Cancer Foundation
The Prevent Cancer Foundation is one of the nation’s leading voluntary health organizations and the only U.S. nonprofit organization focused solely on cancer prevention and early detection. Founded in 1985, it has catapulted cancer prevention to prominence and fulfills its mission through research, education, outreach and advocacy.

About Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center
Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center is a regional cancer care organization that has been fighting cancer for almost 50 years. The cancer care organization provides care at nine centers in Baton Rouge, Covington, Hammond, Houma, Gonzales, Zachary and Natchez, Mississippi, and its service area encompasses southeast Louisiana and southwest Mississippi regions. For more information, please visit