2024 First Quarter Newsletter

Read what DIDM has been up to for the first quarter of 2024, like our Youth Summit at UMKC, and all of the upcoming events! Subscribe to our Newsletter to have it delivered straight to your email inbox.



Our Diversify Dentistry Youth Summit extended its influence & outreach to Kansas City!

Trailblazing Opportunity: Our inaugural out-of-state youth summit found its home at the renowned University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry, where our visionary founder, Dr. Laila Hishaw, once walked the halls.

Diversify Dentistry Youth Summit at UMKC SOD

On April 19th, the Diversify Dentistry Youth Summit was hosted for the first time at UMKC School of Dentistry. This impactful event was realized through the partnership between Diversity in Dentistry Mentorships, Inc. and UMKC SOD, funded by the Delta Dental Institute Oral Health Diversity Fund and Benco Dental Family Foundation. It brought together high school students from underrepresented backgrounds from Kansas City Public Schools District, aiming to inspire them to pursue careers in dentistry. The event provided hands-on experiences, mentorship, and insights into the dental profession. Through engaging activities, interactive discussions, and a White Coat Ceremony, students were encouraged to consider dentistry as a viable career option. The event received positive feedback from students and educators, with many expressing newfound interest in dentistry and praising the representation and support provided at the summit.

Joyce Hernandez, Manager of College Access and Success for Kansas City Public Schools, said, “My staff reported that the students remarked that the event was ‘life-changing, career confirming, and can’t wait to apply to UMKC.'” She mentioned that the students declared it, their favorite field trip ever, even more so than an amusement park! In addition, she shared how the students loved seeing so many staff and students who looked like them. “Representation can’t be beat!”

Dr. Laila Hishaw, founder of Diversity in Dentistry Mentorships, Inc. and UMKC SOD alumna, Class of 2000, reflected, “It was an incredibly moving experience to stand before these young people, many of whom had never considered a future in dentistry, and share that I once sat in the very same room nearly 25 years ago, feeling out of place because I didn’t see others who looked like me. But thanks to the Diversify Dentistry Youth Summit at UMKC, we were able to show them that they truly belong in this field and that we need them to ensure better oral and overall health outcomes for all communities.”

As the inaugural Youth Summit at UMKC drew to a close that day, it marked not just a singular event, but the dawn of a transformative journey for our Mentees. Barriers were broken, and dreams were ignited. With each Summit, a new chapter unfolds, enriching the tapestry of dentistry with diverse voices and perspectives, all united in a common quest for inclusive excellence.

You can read the newsletter from UMKC here and view photos and video recaps from Diversity in Dentistry Mentorships Inc. on our social media pages.

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Upcoming Student Summit: Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine

We’re busy at DIDM planning our next inaugural Diversify Dentistry Student Summit at Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine in June. For more information regarding the summit, please email [email protected].  


Dr. Laila Hishaw was honored with the University of Missouri-Kansas City Alumni Achievement Award from the School of Dentistry. 

With profound humility and heartfelt gratitude, Dr. Laila Hishaw received the University of Missouri-Kansas City Alumni Achievement Award, a testament to her unwavering dedication to dentistry and mentorship. As the founder of Diversity in Dentistry Mentorships, she has tirelessly advocated for inclusivity, inspiring future dental professionals.

Returning to her alma mater for the Alumni Awards, Dr. Hishaw reflected on her journey from student doctor to esteemed alumna, fueled by unwavering support and divine guidance. She expressed deep appreciation for her family, friends, and mentors, whose belief in her propelled her forward.

Accepting the award with grace, Dr. Hishaw looked to the future with renewed determination, acknowledging the collective efforts that had led to this moment. With gratitude in her heart, she vowed to continue her mission of making a meaningful impact in dentistry and beyond.


April Sponsor Spotlight: Execudent

Thank you Execudent for being our April Sponsor of the Month!
Execudent’s commitment to bridging talent and opportunity is unmatched, and their sponsorship is fueling our mission to empower aspiring dental professionals from all backgrounds.

With Execudent’s support, we’re not only sponsoring smiles but also opening doors for underrepresented individuals in dentistry. Their sponsorship enables us to expand pathways programs and provide scholarships, empowering future dentists of color to chase their dreams. This collaboration isn’t just about financial backing—it’s about belief, empowerment, and creating tangible change. Thank you!

May Partner Spotlight: Dental Speaker Institute

Thank you Dental Speaker Institute for your invitation and fundraising efforts for diversity at your WEvolution conference!

The Dental Speaker Institute invited Diversity in Dentistry Mentorships, Inc. to their 7th annual WEvolution conference in Chandler, AZ, to educate the audience with the impactful work we’re doing and to highlight the importance of diversity in dentistry.  They also held a raffle fundraiser for DIDM at this year’s networking conference to further our mission.  Various businesses and individuals donated sought after prizes for our raffle raising nearly $5000 in 27 hours! 

We want to express our heartfelt gratitude to Vanessa Emerson, DSI Founder & CEO for her unwavering support and encouragement.  

Thank you sponsors of the raffle prizes: 
Vanessa Emerson, FDSI, Dental Speaker Institute
Tim McNeely, Lifestone
Anissa Holmes, Dentalflx
Leslie M Thornton and HPWL Co.
Katherine Eitel-Belt, Lion Speak
Kyra Rahn, Keyreel Productions
Anne Duffy, Dental Entrepreneur
Margie Schaller, LaserPointer Productions
Minal Sampat, Marketologist & CE on the Beach
Elena Kelakos, The Eleni Group
Katrina Sanders,The Wine Op
Victoria Peterson, Productive Dentist Academy
Jonathan Bender, Whole Speak
Magic with Dr. Laura Collatz

Big thank you to our Marketing Coordinator, Kim Caponera, for giving up her Saturday to assist Dr. Hishaw with the raffle.

Visit the Dental Speaker Institute’s website

Arizona Dental Association WRDE Convention

A big thank you to Arizona Dental Association for inviting us and sponsoring our table to recruit new #MentorsForTheMovement!

At WRDE, we recruited new mentors and sponsors on a mission to inspire historically underrepresented youth to enter the profession and drive health equity! We had a great time greeting our existing and new mentors, future partners and co-conspirators in promoting oral health access, Delta Dental of Arizona, Execudent Inc., AzDA Cares, and Arizona Oral Health Coalition.

Thank you to our volunteers for working with Dr. Laila Hishaw at the booth:
Ms. Juliana (Martam) Manke, Dr. Elieza Yonan, Dr. Denise Mills, and Dr. Bruce Spigner.

Thank you Delta Dental Institute for your unwavering support of inclusivity and diversity in dentistry!  

Without the generous support of the Delta Dental Institute Oral Health Diversity Fund, our national youth summits would not have been possible. Thank you for ensuring that our underrepresented youths from all over the nation will get the same encouragement, exposure, and education on the possibility that they can become a dentist to effect change in their own communities. 
Read More about the Award


Diversity in Dentistry Mentorships is embracing new perspectives and elevating diversity in dentistry through the leadership of our board of directors and advisory council members.

To learn more about our leadership and read their bios, please visit our website. 

DIDM Website





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