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Institute for Diversity in Leadership gains ground on projects serving oral health care, communities

The newest members of the ADA's Institute for Diversity in Leadership spent the fall of 2006 honing the details of their personal leadership projects, resulting in an array of innovative programs that benefit the communities in which they live.

"Institute class members come to the ADA with wonderful ideas of what they want their leadership project to be," said Dr. Jeanne P. Strathearn, ADA 1st District trustee and chair of the Board of Trustee’s Standing Committee on Diversity.

"This may include an event or initiative that they've always wanted to do, but perhaps lacked some skill necessary to complete it," she said. "The Institute is designed to stimulate ideas and provide innovative ways to draw on colleagues, the tripartite system, the Kellogg School of Management, mentors, community contacts and peer support to accomplish their goals."

Added Dr. Strathearn: "The result is programs designed to improve patient health, help practitioners treat patients in need, provide valuable access to oral health care for their communities and encourage diverse high school students to pursue dentistry as a profession."

Made possible by the ADA Foundation through generous corporate contributions from GlaxoSmithKline, Procter & Gamble and Sullivan-Schein, the Institute for Diversity in Leadership is designed to enhance leadership skills of dentists who belong to racial, ethnic and/or gender backgrounds that have been historically underrepresented in leadership roles.

The personal leadership projects are the centerpiece of the Institute, providing members with hands-on leadership experience on a civic or professional issue with guidance from faculty and mentors.

Now entering its fifth year, the Institute continues to garner positive returns for the ADA. Several alumni have gone on to pursue leadership roles in their component or constituent societies. Every year, a number of qualified applicants vie for the 12 spaces in the program.

"During the selection process for the 2006 class, the Standing Committee on Diversity was overwhelmed with quality applicants," noted Dr. Strathearn. "It's so difficult to choose just 12 candidates when presented with such a strong pool."