Newsroom | 13 February 2013

Cigna Foundation Grant Creates Scholarship Fund for Future Memphis Leaders


Cigna Corporation
Amy Turkington, 440-934-5385


  • $30,000 grant will endow new scholarships for Emerging Leaders Program at University of Memphis
  • Grant honors Memphis health leader Cato Johnson

MEMPHIS, Tenn. & BLOOMFIELD, Conn., February 13, 2013 - Underscoring its commitment to the power of the individual, the Cigna Foundation will fund an endowed scholarship for undergraduate students participating in the Emerging Leaders Program at the University of Memphis. The new scholarship, which honors Memphis community leader Cato Johnson, is being established with a $30,000 grant from the Cigna Foundation.

University of Memphis Black History Month Opening Ceremony on Friday, February 1, 2013. Pictured left to right are: Mary Tate-Smith, Cigna vice president of sales, Memphis; Cato Johnson, 2013 Authur S. Holmon Lifetime Achievement Award recipient; and Reggie White, Cigna general manager, government and education. (Photo: Cigna Corporation)

"Mr. Cato Johnson is such a giant of a leader in our community. So it is very appropriate that Cigna Foundation is endowing a leadership scholarship in his honor," said Dr. Rosie Bingham, vice president of Student Affairs at the University of Memphis. "The Emerging Leaders program at the University of Memphis is producing leaders to follow in the footsteps of Mr. Johnson. We are proud of Mr. Johnson. He and the Foundation can be very excited about the help they will be providing to some very impressive and deserving students."

The Emerging Leaders Program is a comprehensive scholarship program designed to contribute significantly to a balanced, well-rounded college experience. The grant from the Cigna Foundation will enable additional scholarship funds to be awarded to a student participating in the Emerging Leaders Program from the Memphis community who demonstrates financial need, to fund tuition and other college expenses not already met through the Emerging Leaders scholarship. The Emerging Leaders Program (ELP) began at the University of Memphis in 1983. Since its inception, over 600 students have benefited.

"Cato Johnson has demonstrated outstanding leadership in Memphis and throughout Tennessee and Cigna is honored to endow a scholarship in his name to help build our community's next generation of leaders," said Mary Tate-Smith, vice president for Cigna in Memphis.

Johnson, a native Memphian, has been senior vice president of corporate affairs at Methodist Le Bonheur Healthcare since 1985. Previously, he was vice president of corporate affairs at the Regional Medical Center at Memphis. Johnson received bachelor's and master's degrees from Memphis State University (now the University of Memphis). Mr. Johnson has a long history of service to Memphis and his many contributions to the community and to the State of Tennessee have been widely recognized.

About Emerging Leaders Program

The Emerging Leaders Program is a four-year academic and leadership scholarship program. Students experience intensive and outcome based leadership training that includes coursework, community service, workshops, campus engagement, a freshmen living learning community and internship participation. Current student leaders in training hail from 100 high schools, 32 different Tennessee counties and 13 different states.

About the University of Memphis

The University of Memphis is the flagship institution of the Tennessee Board of Regents System. Founded in 1912, it is recognized nationally for its academic, research and athletic programs. Today, the U of M educates more than 22,000 students, and it awards more than 4,000 bachelor's, master's, doctoral and professional degrees annually. Its Helen Hardin Honors Program, designed for academically ambitious and talented students, is the largest in the state. For more information, visit

About the Cigna Foundation

The Cigna Foundation is a private foundation funded by contributions from Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) and its subsidiaries. The Cigna Foundation supports organizations sharing its commitment to enhancing the health of individuals and families, and the well-being of their communities, with a special focus on those communities where Cigna employees live and work.

About Cigna

Cigna Corporation (NYSE: CI) is a global health service company dedicated to helping people improve their health, well-being and sense of security. All products and services are provided exclusively by or through operating subsidiaries of Cigna Corporation, including Connecticut General Life Insurance Company, Cigna Health and Life Insurance Company, Life Insurance Company of North America and Cigna Life Insurance Company of New York. Such products and services include an integrated suite of health services, such as medical, dental, behavioral health, pharmacy, vision, supplemental benefits, and other related products including group life, accident and disability insurance. Cigna maintains sales capability in 30 countries and jurisdictions, and has approximately 75 million customer relationships throughout the world. To learn more about Cigna®, including links to follow us on Facebook or Twitter, visit