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Advocacy Day Promotes Understanding, Action

Friday, November 22, 2013 - 12:39pm

Dean John Valenza, DDS, introduces panelists for a discussion of oral health advocacy. From left are Valenza; Carl Josehard, MSW, of TIRR Memorial Hermann; UTSD Associate Dean Muhammad Walji, PhD; dental student Kyle Hale, MPH; and Scott Forbes, UTHealth Governmental Relations. Photo by Brian Schnupp.

Dean John Valenza, DDS, introduces panelists for a discussion of oral health advocacy. From left are Valenza; Carl Josehart, MSW, of TIRR Memorial Hermann; UTSD Associate Dean Muhammad Walji, PhD; dental student Kyle Hale, MPH; and Scott Forbes, UTHealth Governmental Relations. Photo by Brian Schnupp.

“Learning to Be an Advocate for Oral Health” was the theme for a seminar jointly hosted by The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston and the American Dental Education Association (ADEA) in October at the Denton A. Cooley, MD and Ralph C. Cooley, DDS University Life Center. It was the first such conference hosted by UTSD.

The half-day seminar drew 40 participants, including UTSD faculty and staff, private dentists, corporate executives and board members of professional associations interested in oral health research and issues currently before Congress.  Discussion topics included access to care, diversity, inclusion, health care reform as regards oral health, workplace issues, the cost of a dental education, and more.

Presenters included ADEA Senior Vice President for Advocacy and Governmental Relations Yvonne Knight, JD; ADEA Public Policy Research Director Evelyn Lucas-Perry, DDS; discussion panelists  Carl Josehart, MSW, chief executive officer of the Texas Institute for Rehabilitation and Research (TIRR) Memorial Hermann; UTSD Associate Dean for Technology Services and Informatics Muhammad Walji, PhD; UTSD dental student Kyle Hale, MPH; and Scott Forbes, vice president of governmental relations at UT Health Science Center at Houston (UTHealth).

The School of Dentistry has two ADEA/Sunstar Americas, Inc/Harry Wl Bruce, Jr. Legislative Fellows:   Professor Sheila Koh, DDS, of the Department of General Practice and Dental Public Health, and Patient Services Director and HIPAA Officer Kim Chambers. Their involvement factored into Dean John Valenza’s decision to accept ADEA’s offer to co-host an Advocacy Day seminar.

Valenza said the event helped clarify problems, solutions and ideas for confronting the challenges facing dental education today, while opening dialogue among faculty and administrators on creating and maximizing future advocacy opportunities.