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Diversity Summit: House passes resolution supporting 2009 effort

San Antonio—The ADA House of Delegates passed a resolution last month that paves the way for a 2009 National Summit on Diversity in Dentistry.

The House approved Resolution 71H-2008 which allocates funds in the ADA budget for the Summit that will bring together representatives of the National Dental Association, Hispanic Dental Association, the Society of American Indian Dentists, American Dental Education Association and the ADA in order to seek common ground on goals, plans and collaboration for advancing diversity.

"This isn't a one-time event that makes news and goes away," said ADA President John S. Findley. "We see this as the first step toward ongoing collaboration between the ADA, National Dental Association, Hispanic Dental Association and the Society of American Indian Dentists. This forum will help all of us as we look at the past, reflect on the present and develop concrete strategies focused on the future."

The concept of the Summit has been in the works since 2007, said Dr. Findley.

"I am extremely proud, and the Board is extremely proud, of the many accomplishments and ongoing programs that foster diversity in the profession and leadership, along with access to care for all Americans," he said.

Some examples include career guidance programs for underrepresented minority and low-income students pursuing careers in dentistry; the collaborative work of the Committee on Career Guidance and Diversity Activities; the ADA Institute for Diversity in Leadership, which has supported efforts to develop future leaders for the profession and local communities; and an advocacy agenda that places a high priority on strengthening Medicaid, the State Children's Health Insurance Program and community health centers.

"As I have said before, programs like these prove we aren't just talking, we're doing and learning," said Dr. Findley.

"Through discussions between the Board and its Standing Committee on Diversity in the past year, it has become clear that there is a need to provide a forum for additional conversation and learning in order to advance diversity in the dental profession," he added. "We envision the National Summit on Diversity in Dentistry as building on past accomplishments."

Res. 71H includes funding to support one pre-event meeting of the Summit's core planning group, which will include representatives from the ADA, NDA, HDA and SAID.

"Supporting this meeting I believe underscores our commitment to the Summit, and strongly encourages participation by other associations," said Dr. Findley.

The core planning group will also seek corporate funding to support the Summit. Various corporate sponsors have already indicated their potential interest in supporting the event.

After the core planning group meeting, which is expected to take place in early 2009, the planning group will continue its work through conference calls and e-mail.