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Welcome to the 2024 Aspiring Black Physicians' Conference: Building Bridges and Navigating Barriers!

Physician Panel


: Guess the Specialty

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Dr. Kermit Jones, MD JD

Dr. Kermit Jones is a board-certified internal medicine physician, U.S. Navy Veteran, and lawyer who practices in Northern California. He grew up in a small farm in South Haven, Michigan and spent high school working in the family agricultural and real estate business. He graduated from Clark Atlanta University with a B.S. in Chemistry and Georgia Tech with a B.S. in Electrical Engineering before attending Duke Medical and Law Schools. He joined the U.S. Navy after 9/11 and served with a U.S. Marine Corps Casualty Evacuation Squadron in Iraq in 2007 and 2008. Dr. Jones served as a White House Fellow in the Obama Administration from 2012-2013 and has worked for several law firms, hospitals and Federally Qualified Health Care Centers.

Kermit ran for the U.S. House of Representatives in the 2022 midterm cycle in California’s 3rd Congressional District, where he focused on healthcare, education and veterans’ issues, raising over 3.5 million dollars and obtaining one of the largest vote shares of any democrat running for office in California that cycle. He currently works as a medical director at Optum and is a clinician at Kaiser Permanente. He is married with two children, and speaks Urdu and Arabic.


Dr. Sydney Orunkunle, MD

Dr. Sydney Orokunle is a native of Corona , CA. She graduated from California State Polytechnic University, Pomona with a degree in Biological Sciences in 2010. She then obtained a post baccalaureate certificate from UCLA School of Medicine before obtaining her medical degree from St. George's University School of Medicine in Grenada in 2017. That same year, she relocated to Stockton, CA where she completed her Family Medicine Residency at San Joaquin General Hospital in 2020. Upon completion of residency, Dr. Orokunle and her family relocated to Sacramento where she currently works as a Family Medicine physician at Kaiser Permanente Adult and Family Medicine Clinic. In her spare time, she enjoys spending time with her husband who is also a proud alum of UC Davis MBA program and their 3 young kids.




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Dr. Sahael Stapleton, MD

Dr. Stapleton grew up in Southern California and attended college at UCLA, before completing his medical education on the east coast at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. From there, he completed an Internal Medicine residency at UCSF where he met his wife. He subsequently decided to pursue specialty training and completed his General Surgery residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. He then completed a fellowship in Colon and Rectal Surgery at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. He is skilled with a wide range of surgical approaches including traditional open surgery, laparoscopic surgery, and robotic surgery.

As part of his training, he also obtained a Master of Business Administration, and hopes to leverage that training to advocate for underserved populations throughout our community.




Dr. Olubunmi Ajosa- Popoola, MD

After traveling throughout Europe, Africa and parts of Asia in her youth, Dr. Popoola settled in Northern California by the time she was 10 years old. She attended Phillips Academy in Massachusetts and then returned to California to attend Occidental College. During her time there she participated in a study abroad program at the University of Beijing Medical School in Beijing China. She then completed her medical training Harvard University School of medicine followed by residency at the University of California in Irvine. At the level-1 academic trauma center she had significant exposure to the many disease processes within the Head and Neck field.

She embodies a model of care which focuses on providing compassionate, effective, and efficient patient care. Her hobbies include cycling, cooking, and trying recipes from books acquired on her travels.


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Dr. Michelle Latting, MD

Dr. Latting chose to practice medicine because she realized that by supporting health and wellness, she would be supporting others’ in their ability to live full, productive, and meaningful lives.

She chose to practice as an ophthalmologist because she recognized how important sight and vision related conditions were to patients. Her specific area of expertise is oculoplastic surgery. This involves surgery of the eyelids, eyebrows, orbit (or eye socket), and the nasolacrimal or tear drainage system. She completed her medical training at Johns Hopkins Medical Center and has completed three years of specialty training at the very best academic centers with the goal of being able to provide her patients with the absolute highest quality of care. In her free time, she enjoys spending time outdoors and exploring the state parks with her family.





Physician Panel
Med Student Panel

Medical Student Panel


Lucas Johnson MS2


Aliyah Parker MS2


Chance Bennet MS1


Demond Rodgers MS1


Araiye Medlock MS1

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Dr. Tariq Shaheed

Dr. Shaheed's medical training includes earning a Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine degree from the Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, and  completed an internship and a categorical three-year residency in Internal Medicine at Community Memorial Hospital in Ventura, CA. He further enhanced his expertise by pursuing a nephrology fellowship with the Kaiser Family Foundation, where he focused on addressing the high burden of kidney disease in the Central Valley of Northern California.

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Dr. Candace Lawson

Dr. Lawson earned her MD at UC Davis School of Medicine and is trained in family medicine but is currently working in administration as Chief Medical Officer for Methodist Hospital and Bruceville Terrace.

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Dr. Cristopher Smith

Dr. Smith obtained his MD at UC Davis School of Medicine. He is retired after 30 years with the California Department of Corrections in 2020. He has spent the last 17 years as a medical administrator in charge of medical services and primary care clinician and has been a volunteer internal medicine faculty at the UCD School of Medicine since 1987.

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Dr. Michael C. Lucien

Dr. Lucien earned his MD and completed his internship and residency in Pediatrics at UC Davis School of Medicine. Dr. Michael C. Lucien provides friendly, efficient medical care in an encouraging and supportive environment. He enjoys helping parents who wish to learn more about health and adjust to their child's constant developmental changes. He is currently an Associate Medical Director with the Community Physicians Group of UC Davis Health since December of 2021.

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Dr. Quinn Howard

Dr. Howard graduated from Howard University school of medicine and is a current 4th year resident in physical medicine and rehabilitation at UC Davis.

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Dr. Beatriz Marron

UCLA Prime Alumni and current UCD Internal Medicine Resident

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Dr. Caron Houston

With over 20 years of experience, Dr. Houston has directed a variety of health care centers across the country. She is a graduate of Wellesley College and the University of Texas Health Science Center-San Antonio. Her career has taken her from Baylor Medical Center in Dallas to Betances Health Center in New York City and most recently Sutter Health in Sacramento. This board-certified internal medicine physician has focused most of her career on geriatric care and holds this work very dear.

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Dr. William Bronston

Dr. Bronston graduated from Univeristy Southern California  Medical School with his MD. His training is in pediatrics, and psychiatry but i have been a State of Calif policy physician as medical director of California Department of Developmental Services and then Calif Department of Voc Rehab for 25 years.  

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Dr. Amy Sage

UCLA Prime Alumni and current UCD Internal Medicine Resident


Dr. Bennye Rodgers

Dr. Rodgers obtained his MD at UC Davis School of Medicine who prides herself on having the pleasure of bringing life into the world and providing primary care for women for the past 22 years. And over the last 15 years he has been providing to care for pregnant  women in underserved communities in San Joaquin County from 2009 to 2020, and here in Sacramento County since 2020. 

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Dr. Kimberly Davis

Dr. Jones completed her medical training at Meharry Medical College in Nashville, TN and subsequently completed her residency training at UC Davis Medical Center. She has worked as a physician at Kaiser Permanente in South Sacramento since 2012. As a psychiatrist, she partners with her patients in a safe space which aims to support reflection and understanding. 

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: Physicians in Attendance


Tips + Resources

Encouraging words and stories from Physicians unable to attend:

What drives you in medicine today?
Dr. Thomas Duncan (Trauma Medical Director, Ventura County Medical Center): 

  • The opportunity to provide evidence-based medicine to improve the quality of care provided to sometimes unfortunate patients.

  • The ability to spread the mantra of preventive care to decrease the number of preventable injuries and diseases that we see.

  • The fortune to teach and properly instruct the up-and-coming generation.

  • To serve as a role model for AAs aspiring to pursue medicine as a career.

  • The opportunity to make change happen at the advocacy level and be a voice for those without one.

Dr. Stan Patterson (Chief Medical Information Officer, HCA, Family Medicine Physician): 

My love always present love for science and my desire to help people in any way I can is what drives me the most.  My motivation is, and has always been, the same as when I first made a conscious decision to pursue a career in medicine.  The satisfaction I get when I can be a part of someone's life, contributing in some way to their overall general physical, emotional, and spiritual well-being is a true gift that I am fortunate to experience every day I see patients.  Knowing that I have something, even small, to contribute to those who struggle to find quality health care from someone who care, no matter the circumstances, brings me joy.  I want to be a doctor, who my patients can build trust in, and who looks like them and reflects their values and culture, or deeply respects the values and culture of those I serve.  It matters to me because I didn't have that growing up.


Why did you pursue this field of practice?
Dr. Thomas Duncan (Trauma Medical Director, Ventura County Medical Center): 

As a child/teenager, I was always curious about how objects (radios, model toy cars, etc.) worked and found myself dismantling them to determine how they functioned. As such, my zeal was to work in a field of medicine involving technical skills if/when I became a physician.

Dr. Stan Patterson (Chief Medical Information Officer, HCA, Family Medicine Physician): 

Medicine chose me.  I was nine years old and through the dedication of my teachers at my school in South Central LA, I got to think about what I wanted from life, beyond grade school.  Having my mom serve as a major mentor in my life, showed me what I could accomplish as she demonstrated her strength, perseverance, resolve, dedication, patience, and grace to her 3 sons every day, despite having to do it all as a single parent.  She never told us what we should do in life as a career, but she supported and encouraged us regardless of our resources and never let us feel like we were "less than," or "less deserving."  This helped us seek other mentors with a similar message and sustained me as I navigated life's path towards my ultimate goal.  Family Medicine fulfilled all the things I never knew I needed in a career.  I love my work every day and have never felt a moment of regret.

What do you enjoy most? 
Dr. Thomas Duncan (Trauma Medical Director, Ventura County Medical Center): 

  • Seeing a medical student or resident blossom from their infancy stage to a full blown physician capable of managing all works of medicine in their specialty with confidence.

  • Patients/families showing gratitude for the healing and/or change in demeanor from pain to near-absent physical ailment after an operation or intervention.

  • Audience at conferences display joy when a process that could change their community, city, or state click.

Dr. Stan Patterson (Chief Medical Information Officer, HCA, Family Medicine Physician): 

I enjoy the ability to forge relationships with the people I get to meet and see every day.  Whether it involves seeing patients, teaching residents and medical students, or working with other clinical professionals in my current role as Chief Medical Information Officer, I cherish the opportunity to impact another person in as positive a way as I can.  It means more to me to make that impact on those who have experience less opportunity in their lives.  Mentorship molded me and I hope to pay it forward.

What are/have been your greatest challenges? 
Dr. Thomas Duncan (Trauma Medical Director, Ventura County Medical Center): 

  • Dealing with administrative bureaucracy.

  • Handling state and federal mandates that do not add up to optimum outcomes.

  • Wearing multiple hats in order to be at the table to be part of important decisions that affect under-represented communikties.

Dr. Stan Patterson (Chief Medical Information Officer, HCA, Family Medicine Physician): 

My greatest challenges have been balancing with desire of what I want to do and what I think we should do for those who have less health care access and less resources, in general, with what I am able to do with the resources I have.  It literally takes a village of like-minded, common-goal oriented individuals to pool what we have to do more.  That's always been a bigger hill to climb than I ever anticipated.  I have become used to doing more with less...It's the story of my life, but there are always so many circumstances where our patients and our youth deserve so much more than we can give.  It's frustrating to see the effect of what happens when we can't do enough and how it impacts those who would have benefitted.  I hope we can continually think of ways to constructively overcome those challenges.

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    Sacramento, CA          (916) 475-9582     

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