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TSET Board of Directors Honors Service of Board Member

OKLAHOMA CITY (September 25, 2015) - The TSET Board of Directors honored the service of George E. Foster, OD, at their board meeting this week, and welcomed new board member Bruce Benjamin, PhD.

Foster, of Park Hill, was originally appointed to the TSET Board of Directors by Speaker of the House Larry Adair to represent the 2nd Congressional District and serve the remainder of a seven-year term. He was reappointed to the board in 2008 by House Speaker Chris Benge to serve out a full seven-year term which ended June 30, 2015.

House Speaker Jeff Hickman has appointed Bruce Benjamin, PhD, of Claremore, to represent the 2nd Congressional District for a new seven-year term ending June 30, 2022.

Foster is the past dean of the College of Optometry at Northeastern State University and Chairman of the Cherokee County Health Services Council. Foster is the past-president of the Association of Schools and Colleges of Optometry, a member of Leadership Oklahoma Class VII and a member of the National Rural Health Association. He is also a member of the Oklahoma Academy for State Goals and an associate member of the American Public Health Association.

Foster brought more than 40 years of experience in the public health to the Board of Directors and worked to represent the prevention and health needs of all Oklahomans.

“His guidance and leadership and focus on rural Oklahoma’s needs, brought a clarifying voice to the TSET Board of Directors,” said Jim Gebhart, chairman of the TSET Board of Directors. “Dr. Foster will remain engaged in his community and throughout the state to improve Oklahoma’s health status.”

During Foster’s time on the board, TSET strengthened its presence in rural Oklahoma with the long-running Communities of Excellence program, TSET Healthy Living grant program and incentive grants for schools and communities. Community-based grants seek to prevent and reduce tobacco use and obesity.

“My service these 11 years has been a unique opportunity to support public health efforts across state, with an emphasis on rural Oklahomans’ needs,” Foster said. “It has been a pleasure to serve with my fellow board members and to serve the citizens of Oklahoma.”

TSET is funded by the earnings from the investments of the majority of Master Settlement Agreement payment to the state. Oklahoma is one of 46 states that sued the tobacco industry in 1996 for deceptive business practices in marketing tobacco and tobacco-related healthcare costs.

The tobacco industry, found guilty of racketeering by a judge, makes an annual settlement payment to the states. Seventy-five percent of each settlement payment is deposited in the endowment fund for investment. Only the earnings are used to fund grants and programs aimed at improving the health of Oklahomans.

TSET is governed by two appointed boards, a Board of Investors and a Board of Directors. The Board of Investors manages the investments in the endowment trust fund and is chaired by the State Treasurer.

The TSET Board of Directors, appointed by seven different elected officials and representing each of the state’s five congressional districts, oversees the expenditure of the earnings to fund grants and programs to prevent and reduce tobacco use and obesity. The Board of Directors has also invested in cutting-edge research to reduce the toll of tobacco-related diseases on our state.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                               
Julie Bisbee, julieb@tset.ok.gov
Direct: 405-521-4992
Cell: 405-301-3693

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The Oklahoma Tobacco Settlement Endowment Trust (TSET) serves as a partner and bridge builder for organizations working towards shaping a healthier future for all Oklahomans. TSET provides leadership at the intersections of health by working across the state, by cultivating innovative and life-changing research, and by working across public and private sectors to develop, support, implement and evaluate creative strategies to take advantage of emerging opportunities to improve the public's health. TSET. Better Lives Through Better Health.