The Los Angeles City Club was the scene of the 42nd annual gala of the Association of Black Women Physicians. The event demonstrated ABWP’s longstanding commitment to health equity and addressing medical challenges in the Black community.
The event also awards women who are pursuing medical degrees with scholarships as well as recognize trailblazers in other professions for their contributions, courage, and insight.
This year’s event opened with a poem by emcee and KJLH broadcaster Tammi Mac, followed by a rendition of “Every Time I Feel the Spirit” by Daniel Johnson and a full complement of talented musicians.
This year’s theme was “The Black Family: Strength and Unity Through Health and Mental Well Being,” underscoring the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on many persons and the social readjustment that has accompanied the return to a normal lifestyle.
The event is also celebratory as ABWP’s major fundraiser of the year. It is an opportunity for organizations and individuals to financially support the education of Black female physicians, who represent of 2% of physicians nationally.
According to Dr. Sheila Young-Mercado, president-elect and gala event chair, “$65,000 in scholarships will be awarded to 13 students attending medical school. The total level of scholarship funds raised over the years has now exceeded $1 million. One of the persons who embodies the ABWP spirit is Dr. LaTanya Hines, scholarship committee chair and a two-time scholarship recipient. She is a Silver Level sponsor of the event this year.”
The scholarship recipients attend five universities – Charles R. Drew University’s newly opened 4-year MD program, the UC Riverside and UC Irvine Schools of Medicine, Keck School of Medicine of USC, and the school of medicine at Western University of Health Sciences.
As for the professional honorees, Dr. Javette C. Orgain was the first ABWP Lifetime Achievement awardee introduced. She is a family physician and retired Clinical Associate Professor of Medicine at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
Dr. Orgain is the 100th president of the National Medical Association and the first Black speaker of the American Academy of Family Physicians. She is also past president of the Illinois Academy of Family Physicians and past president of the Cook County Physicians’ Association.
The second Lifetime Achievement Awardee was Dr. Carol J. Bennett, the Henry E. Singleton Chair in Urology at UCLA. She is the first Black female board-certified urologist in the U.S. She was described as “the ultimate physician” – a clinician, educator, researcher, and lead administrator who has paved the way for Black women urologists. In 2022, The urology clinic at the West LA Veterans’ Affairs Medical Center was renamed in her honor.
Dr. Bennett, who is married to Dr. Kenneth Black, spoke of the lessons that she has learned and has applied to her life. As a message to the young professionals in the room, she stressed perseverance in clinical work and research.
“Find a mentor,” she advised. “Don’t be afraid to ask them,” she suggested, “rather than waiting for them to choose you. Cultivate more than one, as they will be of assistance throughout your professional career.”
Los Angeles Mayor and former physician assistant Karen R. Bass received the Humanitarian Award. She was introduced by Congresswoman Sydney Kamlager-Dove, who succeeded Bass in Congress.
Mayor Bass noted that homelessness is a health issue. She cited homeless cancer patients who die because they do not receive proper treatment because out in the streets, they go untreated. She criticized the current system as not being focused on health, as it is no surprise when people wind up on the streets. She proposed a change in health service delivery and asked ABWP to be part of that effort.
Numerous sponsors have been strong advocates of ABWP. This year’s group includes the California Health Care Foundation, Anthem Blue Cross, California Wellness Foundation, Molina Healthcare, Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science, Dr. Jesse L. Sherrod, UCLA School of Medicine, the Keck School of Medicine, Dr. LaTanya Hines, the Kaiser Permanente Bernard J. Tyson, School of Medicine, First Advocates, Cedars Sinai Medical Center, and numerous other donors & supporters.
To donate to the ABWP or learn about future events, visit blackwomenphysicians.org, or email You can also contact [email protected], or call Sabra Waddy of Splendid Affairs at (818) 605-7405.