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Black Tie International:
The Brain Trust

The Brain Trust Raises Nearly $11 Million
For Brain Tumor Research


Dr. Keith Black

Keith L. Black, M.D., chairman of the Department of Neurosurgery, director of the Maxine Dunitz Neurosurgical Institute, and the Ruth and Lawrence Harvey Chair in Neuroscience at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, is among a small group of neurosurgeons in the world who perform hundreds of brain tumor operations each year. He is not satisfied to merely remove difficult brain tumors, however. His greater goal is to obliterate brain cancers altogether, and he has devoted his experience and knowledge as a scientist to this endeavor. His work has been the subject of numerous broadcast and print media stories, including a 1996 PBS program, “The New Explorers,” a Time magazine cover and feature article in 1997 on heroes in medicine, and a segment on CBS Sunday Morning in 1999. He often is called upon by CNN and other national media to discuss news events related to brain tumors or injuries. He was nominated as a “CNN Hero” in 2007, and has been named a 2010 BET Network Honoree for his public service.


THE BRAIN TRUSTA powerful group of 6 African American women who have so far raised nearly $11 million for brain tumor research led by Dr. Keith L. Black, Chairman of the Neurosurgery Department at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. Brain Trust members include Pauletta Washington, Keisha Nash-Whitaker, Dale Cochran, Carol Bennett, M.D., Angelia Sanders, and Gloria Mitchell.


The women of the Brain Trust – all 6 of whom happen to be African American –  represent a variety of professions, from business and the entertainment industry to medicine and law. Despite demanding careers and schedules, they pool their incredible talent and donate their precious time to benefit brain tumor research.  To date, they have raised nearly
$11 million. Pauletta Washington and another member of the group, Keisha Nash-Whitaker, have also enlisted the involvement
of their husbands, Academy Award-winning actors Denzel Washington and Forest Whitaker, both of whom have become contributors and outspoken supporters.

“Part of our job is creating awareness, and one of the most exciting aspects of our work is getting information ‘hot off the press’ and filtering it into the community in seminars, luncheons and other events,” says Pauletta Washington. “We may have some tougher fund-raising days ahead of us because of the economic situation, but we’re hopeful. Dr. Black is doing phenomenal work and he and his teams are incredible. When we see them working tirelessly, it makes our job easier. It keeps us optimistic and encouraged.”


Carol Bennett, M.D. – Chief of Urology at the Greater Los Angeles Veterans’ Hospital Healthcare System, sits on many boards, actively involved in schools, mother of two, wife of Keith Black, M.D. Bennett has earned a distinguished reputation through her work with the VA, as a surgeon and as a professor of urology at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Dale Cochran – Entrepreneur and philanthropist, community activist, world traveler, widow of world-renowned attorney and civil rights leader Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. She works to keep her late husband’s legacy alive in the community with youth programs designed to encourage young people to stay in school and lead active, healthy lives. She led the effort to bring to reality The Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Brain Tumor Center at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center.

Gloria Mitchell – Owner of a medical center in south central Los Angeles, philanthropist, community supporter, political activist, mother of five, grandmother of four. She and her husband, Dr. Accie Mitchell, continue to be involved in the community, working to bring hope and renewal to children and their families in the impoverished and underserved areas of Los Angeles. Her keen business sense has kept projects on target and on budget.

Angelia Sanders – Vice president of the Recording Academy (The Grammys), mother of two young children, sits on several boards, active in children’s schools. She has climbed the ladder in the record industry, having worked at Motown, BMG, and RCA record labels, and has helped to build the careers of Grammy Award winners Stevie Wonder, Lionel Richie and Will Smith, to name a few. Her contacts in the world of entertainment have enriched the work of the Brain Trust immeasurably.

Pauletta Washington – Singer, actor, classically trained pianist, philanthropist, and mother of four children, actively involved in children’s schools, wife of Academy Award-winning actor Denzel Washington. The couple lends their names and time to the Pauletta and Denzel Washington Family Gifted Scholars Award in Neuroscience, given annually by the Department of Neurosurgery to support two aspiring scientists.

Keisha Nash-Whitaker – Model, philanthropist, active mother of four, and wife of Academy Award-winning actor Forest Whitaker. Keisha has worked diligently to enlist the support of high-level figures in the entertainment industry in the creation of projects such as The Johnnie L. Cochran, Jr. Brain Tumor Center. One such supporter is Forest, whose grandmother was treated by Black after being diagnosed with a brain tumor several years ago.


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