The 15 White Coats, INC., a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, is led by Drs. Russell Ledet and Sydney Labat, as well as Dr. Rachel Turner and Student Doctor Brian Washington.
The original 15 White Coats in the iconic photo are physicians at various stages of training.
Board Of Directors
Meet Our Executive Director
Dedication to the cognitive advancement of students defines Lisa Batiste, an esteemed educator and visionary leader. As the Executive Director of The 15 White Coats, Lisa's journey is an embodiment of her passion for education, fortified by a diverse background that exemplifies her commitment to shaping young minds.
Lisa's academic voyage commenced at Southern University and A&M College, where she earned a Bachelor's degree in Chemistry with a focus on Organic Chemistry. Here, she also emerged as an Adjunct Instructor of Chemistry, a role that set the stage for her lifelong dedication to nurturing intellectual growth. Lisa later pursued a Master of Education in Instructional Design and Technology, equipping herself with innovative tools to craft effective learning experiences. This intersection of academia and teaching underscored her zeal for empowering students through knowledge.
Her journey took a monumental leap when she conceived the original tutor training modules for the Center for Academic Success at Louisiana State University, a milestone that led to the center's recognition with the 2006 Presidential Award. This accomplishment solidified Lisa's reputation as a dynamic architect of education.
Lisa's professional journey ventured into high school education, where she served as the head science teacher, imparting wisdom across disciplines like Physical Science, Biology, Chemistry, and Physics. However, shortly thereafter she returned to her roots at LSU, and rose to the prestigious position of Senior Program Manager for the largest STEM undergraduate scholarship program in existence. Her five-year tenure witnessed her co-authoring four curriculum-approved courses that aimed to elevate academic confidence and enrich learning outcomes. This trajectory culminated in invitations to the renowned Gordon Research Conference—an international platform that celebrates frontier research across various scientific domains—where Lisa's contributions spurred the development of multimillion-dollar STEM scholarship initiatives.
Lisa's transformative influence extended to her role as a Systemwide Director of Grants and Sponsored Programs, where she revitalized an entire university system's grants and contracts office. She was successful in bringing many successful funding opportunities to the university system.
Lisa’s rich academic background, combined with her profound influence in student success, program design and implementation, instructional design and educational leadership, defines her as a true luminary and a key force behind The 15 White Coats' pursuit of excellence.
In The News
Support The 15 White Coats
What is The 15 White Coats Organization?A Black physician-led group of change makers that are helping the next generation of minority physician aspirants by providing visual inspiration and economic support with hopes of diversifying healthcare for marginalized communities. The 15 White Coats is a federally recognized 501(c)(3) nonprofit that is based out of New Orleans, Louisiana. Our organization is named after a photo of 15 African American Tulane University School of Medicine medical students standing in front of a slave quarter at the Whitney plantation in Edgard Louisiana. The intention behind taking this photo was to illustrate to the entire world, how far African Americans have come historically with regard to healthcare, and our resilience to push past systemic barriers. The photo took off on social media, gained the moniker The 15 White Coats, and had been featured by Good Morning America, NBC Nightly News with Lester Holt, New Orleans Times-Picayune, CNN, MSNBC, NPR, U.S. Today, AAMC, AMA, and People Magazine, and many other media appearances. Eventually, the students behind The 15 White Coats decided to take that 15 minutes of fame and turn it into a platform and an engine for change. A non-profit was formed by a subset of the original 15 White Coats. Today, the organization is led by Russell J. Ledet, M.D., Ph.D., MBA, Sydney Labat, M.D., Rachel Turner, M.D., and Brian Washington, Jr. Our nonprofit was started to do three things: (1) to provide cultural imagery in the form of our iconic photos being placed in classrooms, learning spaces, and political buildings to illustrate how far African-Americans have come with regard to diversifying the medical profession (2) to utilize grassroots fundraising to economically assist historically marginalized individuals aspiring to enter into the medical field (3) to galvanize a keen interest in reading by placing books that are curated for cultural relevance in classrooms and learning spaces through Resilient Reader Book Club boxes. To date, The 15 White Coats have raised well over $200,000 and given out over $110,000 in scholarships. We have also placed our iconic photo in over 10,000 learning spaces around the globe. Importantly, it is a matter of personal conviction and commitment of its founding members that our nonprofit is a non-profit in its purest form. 100% of every dollar that we raise goes towards our cause, and we are running this organization on a volunteer basis, aside from our overhead, since day one.
What is the mission of The 15 White Coats?The mission of The 15 White Coats is to promote cultural imagery in learning spaces, provide economic support to minorities aspiring to be physicians, and to promote culturally-appropriate literature access in learning spaces.
What problem does our organization solve?The grave need to diversify medicine cannot be overstated, nor can the fact that we as a society are very far from this goal. No other event in history has made this more apparent than the COVID-19 pandemic, yet a lack of representation is felt in all aspects of healthcare, from oncology to mental health care. We know that by diversifying medicine we have better health outcomes for marginalized patients, youth, adolescents, and adults. Moreover, the need for diversification at the medical school level is important to help medical school students and faculty from other backgrounds understand that individuals from any background can become physicians. There are multiple studies that show that underrepresented minority students are more likely to return to medically underserved communities to practice, leading to a lower burden on our healthcare costs nationally, as well as leading to better outcomes because of cultural concordance. It's not a secret that there is a greater understanding and compassion for the issues of those from marginalized communities by underrepresented minorities. And there is a grave unmet need for a robust and comprehensive pipeline that prepares underrepresented minorities to be as confident and prepared as possible to enter medical school, be successful, and impact how healthcare is distributed across our country. As we celebrate the stories of individual triumphs over the recalcitrant system stacked against the advancement of disenfranchised minorities, we are building a new system to replace it. This system supplies mentorship, resources for the MCAT, resources for the AMCAS, guidance around preparing a personal statement, as well as buy-in for interview and acceptance consideration from medical schools for students who are at or above the MCAT scoring standard. We’d like to emphasize that we don’t aim to propagate the existing model of creating diversity to meet the quotas; we strive to identify the true talent among underrepresented aspirants and provide them with tools and financial means to level the field. Moreover, if we are to address the issue of diversification of the medical school matriculant pool, we must not neglect the early education interventions that are fundamental to long-term positive outcomes. The issue of access to culturally relevant literature is beyond a need. As stated earlier, the mission of The 15 White Coats is to promote cultural imagery in learning spaces, provide economic support to minorities aspiring to be physicians and promote culturally-appropriate literature access in learning spaces. Access is key, and the reality that so many schools in marginalized communities are absent of libraries decreases the likelihood of avid readers and subsequently affects the number of medical school applicant hopefuls we can project for. Lastly, the economics of becoming a physician is astounding, which is no secret. On average, it costs between $5K and $10K to APPLY to medical school, a range that seems quite high given the goal is to provide an inalienable right like healthcare to the most vulnerable populations. All the 15 White Coats wants to do is (1) provide cultural imagery in classrooms so kids can hope to be the Black doctors we are right now, (2) provide some funds to minority medical school applicants so the economic burden is not as bad as it could be and (3) to ensure that Black and Brown kids are reading books that reflect their lived experiences and has illustrations that look like the readers.
What am I donating to?Helping the 15WC raise funds towards scholarships for students of color applying to medical school. Simply applying to medical school can cost over $3,000.We recognize this financial burden because we have personally experienced it, and want to help alleviate that cost. Place framed and signed 15 White Coat posters in education spaces around the country to serve as an inspiration to our FUTURE PHYSICIANS, and continue the conversation on racial equity and OUR experience. Place cultural literature in learning spaces that tells the story of ACADEMIC EXCELLENCE from our perspective.
Do you profit from the donations?The answer is a vehement NO. We use 100% of the proceeds to support our cause. None of us are taking one penny of profit. This is truly for the future.
Are my tax donations tax-deductible?Yes, every donation is tax-deductible. We are an IRS-approved 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. Our tax ID is 86-1991878.
Are you all a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization and are all donations tax-deductible?Yes, we are an official IRS-recognized 501(c)(3) non-profit organization, and our IRS EIN/Tax ID is 86-1991878. Our official address is 1901 Manhattan BLVD, Building G, PMB 383, Harvey, LA 70058. We may be contacted via email at email@example.com.
How does The 15 White Coats create social impact? What metrics do we use to measure it?The 15 White Coats create social impact by helping to diversify an already scarce Black physician workforce. If there is one thing the COVID-19 pandemic taught us is that Black communities do not get a fair shake when it comes to healthcare. Moreover, the worst outcomes generally involve the most marginalized communities, oftentimes primarily Black communities. There are a number of challenges to increasing the number of African-American physicians in the United States of America including economic barriers that are associated with becoming a physician, accessibility to physician role models that are visible within the community, inequities in grade-school education tax dollar allocation federally, and a slew of other systemic oppression-associated factors. Our aims of creating social impact are to diversify the physician workforce by providing positive cultural imagery within learning spaces so that children can start to imagine themselves as physicians. Secondly, we do so by continuing to provide economic support to those who are hoping to become physicians but do not have the economic means to apply to medical school. Thirdly, we are continuing to place culturally aligned literature in classrooms and other community learning spaces to ensure that kids have the best access to reading materials. We know that children who have better reading skills have a higher likelihood of completing high school and college, both of which are requirements for going to medical school. We measure the size of our impact by how many students we are able to successfully transition from medical school aspirants to medical school students. Moreover, we are able to measure the impact of placing Resilient Readers Book boxes in classrooms by assessing the increased rate of reading within classrooms and anecdotal reports from educators, as well as administrators at institutions.