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Houston Dental Festival celebrates diversity in dental community

Event receives 2015 Golden Apple Award

November 02, 2015

By Kimber Solana

Painting faces: (From left) Erika Mendez, Andrea Sauerwein, Alex Eagerly and Francisco Nieves, representatives from the American Student Dental Association-UTSD Houston, volunteer at the face painting station during the April 25 Houston Dental Festival.

Wild: Dr. Ginger Marblestone leans in with daughters Izzy and Libby to meet a baby alligator at the animal experience tent during the first Houston Dental Festival held April 25 at the Houston Zoo.

Catching up: Dr. Joseph Piazza, organizer and Greater Houston Dental Society immediate past president, and Dr. Gary Williams pose for a photo during the Houston Dental Festival.
— From mammals and insects to birds and reptiles, there’s great diversity in the animal kingdom. The same can be said in organized dentistry.

To help build solid relationships, foster a sense of unity and bring value in being a part of organized dentistry, the Greater Houston Dental Society established the Houston Dental Festival to bring together its local community of related dental organizations, their staff and families.

The inaugural event, held April 25 at the Houston Zoo, displayed and celebrated the diversity of ages, gender and ethnicities involved in Houston’s dental community.

“[The festival] was the big finish of a year of thinking outside the box to get our diverse dental community together for an opportunity to visit and start new relationships, renew old friendships and enjoy each others’ company,” said Dr. Joe Piazza, GHDS immediate past president.

For its effort, GHDS received the ADA 2015 Golden Apple Award for Outstanding Achievement in the Promotion of Diversity and Inclusion.

The GHDS partnered with seven local dental organizations to host the festival. The organizations were the American Student Dental Association Houston chapter; Charles A. George Dental Society, an association of African-American dentists; Greater Houston Dental Alliance; Houston Hispanic Dental Association; Houston Academy of General Dentistry; Houston Asian-American Dental Society; University of Texas School of Dentistry Alumni Association.

For about nine months, the partnering dental organizations helped plan the event and oversaw logistics, including marketing the event, finding volunteers, compiling and implementing a budget and organizing a schedule of activities for both adults and children. GHDS raised about $13,000 from sponsors, donations and ticket sales to host the event.

About 300 dentists, their staff and families, and dental students, attended the festival at the Karamu Outpost, an outdoor, covered picnic facility inside the Houston Zoo.

The three-hour festival was filled activities including bounce houses, face painting, special encounters with zoo animals for the children, prize drawings and a catered lunch. A dental bingo game helped break the ice. The festival provided a casual environment and relaxed atmosphere to meet and network with a great mix of dental professionals and their families.

“It was a complete success,” said Dr. Piazza. “Many people shared that they had a good time and will attend the next time.”

The second Houston Dental Festival is scheduled for April 16, 2016.

For more information on the Houston Dental Festival, contact GHDS at 1-713-961-4337.