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Board's Diversity Committee gains perspectives from Institute alumni

March 05, 2012

By Karen Fox, ADA News staff

For the ADA to continue to identify ways to embrace diversity and inclusion, the Board of Trustees is tapping a new source: the Institute for Diversity in Leadership.


Dr. Alves

Dentists who have participated in the Institute are serving as consultants to the Board’s Diversity Committee with full speaking privileges but no votes.

The Board passed a resolution in 2010 that called for the committee to add Institute participants to the Diversity Committee, saying efforts to promote diversity will be enhanced by engaging new input from diverse perspectives.

“From the Board members on the committee, I’m already hearing the strongest appreciation for the perspectives added by the Institute dentists,” said Dr. William Calnon, ADA president. “Diversity and inclusion have been important to ADA’s wider success and remain key themes in the ADA’s strategic plan. I’m personally excited to see this kind of innovation.”

A year-long educational experience for promising leaders from racial, ethnic and/or gender groups that have been less visible in dental leadership, the Institute has graduated 93 dentists over the last 10 years. Many have moved into volunteer leadership positions with component and constituent societies, the ADA and other organizations.


Dr. Babo
The consultants to the Diversity Committee are Dr. Loren Alves, San Antonio, Institute class of 2012 and a member of the National Dental Association Board of Trustees; Dr. Evis Babo, Atlanta, Institute class of 2008 and a member of the ADA Strategic Planning Committee; and Dr. Irene Marron, Miami, Institute class of 2009 and president of the South Florida District Dental Association.

Dr. Babo said that inviting input from the Institute dentists shows that the Board means what it says in its ADA mission statement, which among other things is to foster “the success of a diverse membership.”

“The Diversity Committee is trying to make sure that is getting done,” said Dr. Babo. “They see that the membership of the ADA is going to be different in the future and they’re trying to understand what changes they need to make to reflect the changing membership. They brought us in the process and listen to our opinions because we represent the groups they hope to serve.”

A key asset the Institute dentists bring to the table is the fact that they represent diverse communities.

“We need to work together as a team, and that’s what I like about what the Board is trying to do,” said Dr. Marron. “It was great to have the opportunity to meet with them and to know they are interested in what we think.”


Dr. Marron

Some of the issues they’ve discussed with the Board include the appeal of diverse dental organizations, and the growing number of women dentists and the need for ADA leadership to reflect that.

“There is a lot of history of exclusion,” said Dr. Alves, a member of the National Dental Association’s Board of Trustees. “We need these organizations to be autonomous, and young minorities need to understand there are a lot of strong shoulders they stand on. These organizations opened doors for minorities and gave us opportunities.”

At the same time, there’s much the ADA can do when working in concert with these organizations.

“Everyone wants more members but we have to work together,” said Dr. Alves. “The main thing I hope to impact is to be able to advance dialogue between ADA and NDA.”