Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center Announces CEO Succession Plan

Mary Bird Perkins Cancer Center announced that Jonas Fontenot, PhD, MBA, will begin serving as President and chief executive officer 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.

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.

“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

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 Mary Bird Perkins – LSU Medical Physics partnership was formed, opening up new areas of cancer research and educational opportunities in the 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.”