FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
2024 New Board of Directors and Advisory Council Members Announcement
Media Contact: [email protected]
Diversity in Dentistry Mentorships, Inc Welcomes Ten New Members to Its Board of Directors and Advisory Council
Tucson, Ariz. (February 5, 2024) — Diversity in Dentistry Mentorships, Inc., a nonprofit dedicated to enhancing diversity within the dental profession, proudly welcomes ten new members to its Board of Directors and Advisory Council. These individuals, distinguished by their professional achievements and dedication to community service, represent a variety of backgrounds and expertise. Together, they will contribute to their mission of addressing racial disparities in dentistry through mentorship, education, and scholarship programs targeting underrepresented groups.
Dr. Laila B. Hishaw, Founder and Executive Director, emphasized the importance of these appointments: ‘Incorporating these diverse perspectives strengthens our leadership team, enabling us to make significant strides toward a more inclusive dental profession.’
New leadership roles include Student Dr. Luma Chenyi as Vice President of the Board and Dr. Dentonio Worrell as Chair of the Advisory Council. Each new member brings unique qualifications and a shared commitment to health equity and diversity in dentistry.
Board Secretary, Dr. Susan Sergie is an Alaskan Native originally from Alakanuk, Alaska. Dr. Sergie is dedicated to creating genuine connections with each patient, treating them like cherished family members. She is the practice owner of North Coast Family Dentistry in Anchorage, AK. A graduate of Midwestern University College of Dental Medicine in Glendale, Arizona, she earned her Doctor of Dental Medicine (DMD) degree. Dr. Sergie further refined her skills through Advanced Education in Pediatric Dentistry (AEPD) at NYU Langone in Phoenix, Arizona. While specializing in pediatric dentistry, she holds numerous certifications and licenses and extends her comprehensive dental care to patients of all ages, including those with special needs.
Board Member Dr. Joel Berg is a consultant in the dental industry and practices Pediatric Dentistry part time in the Phoenix, AZ area. He is former Dean at the University of Washington. Dr. Berg is a board-certified pediatric dentist and is a Past-President of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, and Past-President of the AAPD Foundation. He is Past President of the American Academy of Esthetic Dentistry.
Dr. Berg is an editor of the book Early Childhood Oral Health and has published extensively on subjects including dental restorative materials for children, and medical management of dental caries. He lectures to dental professionals regularly on “Medical Management of Dental Caries”. He has served numerous start-ups in C-suite and consulting capacities since leaving academia as Dean of the University of Washington School of Dentistry. Dr. Berg currently acts as Chief Dental Officer at Willo alongside his founding role as President of Execudent, Inc.
Board Member Dr. Denise Mills, received her Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene from Northern Arizona University in 1980. She then continued her education to receive her D.D.S. degree from the University of California, Los Angeles in 1985. She has practiced in Public Health through the Indian Health Service and had been in private practice since 1985. In July of 2009, Dr. Mills became a faculty member of Midwestern University, College of Dental Medicine-Arizona as a pre-clinical instructor. Currently she serves as full-time clinical faculty. She has continued her education receiving a Master’s Degree in Health Administration in 2014 and in 2020 received Doctoral Degree in Education.
Board Member Dr. Esther Lopez is a passionate, patient-centered dentist and public health and health equity advocate dedicated to prioritizing people’s overall health and wellbeing for the past 15 years. She divides her time between running her Oak Park, Illinois-based practice, Healthy Tooth Dental, serving as an adjunct professor at the University of Illinois Chicago’s College of Dentistry, and volunteering as a clinician and co-chair of the Dental Advisory Committee at RefugeeOne, a Chicago-based non-profit agency that helps refugees, asylum seekers, and immigrants resettle into the U.S. In addition to working directly with patients, Dr. Lopez advocates for policy reform to make dental care more accessible to those who need it most in the United States. Dr. Lopez is President of the Greater Chicago Hispanic Dental Association, and holds membership in the American Dental Association, Chicago Dental Society, the National Coalition of Dentists for Health Equity, and the Illinois State Dental Society, where she is part of two leadership teams: the newly formed Diversity, Equity and Inclusion committee and the Communications committee.
Advisor Student Dr. Begaye, MPH is Diné (Navajo) from Chinle, Arizona. She is enrolled at Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health to earn a Doctor of Dental Medicine degree. She has earned a Master of Public Health degree with a specialization in American Indian Public Health from North Dakota State University. She has experience in program implementation, data analysis, and community engagement and outreach. Marlinda’s commitment to change and responsiveness continues to impact and influence as she remains engaged in mentoring, supporting efforts to involve the voice of and honor the perspectives of Tribal communities and its members in organizational and educational systems, and being a voice for public health, equity, and advocacy.
Advisor Ms. Nikki Inda, a seasoned public relations strategist and community engagement professional, originally from Kansas City, Missouri, has spent over two decades in Tampa, Florida. A former spokesperson for Moffitt Cancer Center, Nikki’s expertise in storytelling, media relations, and brand building supports philanthropic endeavors at a high level. She coordinated impactful events, including a Veterans Day program and a successful “Healthy Kids” initiative focusing on underrepresented communities. Recognized as a community leader, Nikki participated in the U.S. Airforce Honorary Commander program, and in 2022, she founded Ladder Up LLC, a PR business bridging connections between people and industries. Her trademarked mantra is “The fortitude to climb – is the altitude to rise ™,” set for licensing in mid-2024.
Advisor Mr. Greg King has over 15+ years of experience in dental management. He is currently CEO and Co-Founder of TEAM NILO, a tech-enabled service company that connects collegiate athletes to community opportunities. Greg also owns and operates Ouchless Dental Support, a privately owned consulting company that helps dental and medical physicians scale their current operations. His passion is helping other people reach their full potential and seeing them succeed. When he is not busy helping people, Greg is spending precious time with his 3 small children and his beautiful wife, Sarah in Flower Mound, TX.
Advisor Dr. Krista Kunz is a Board-Certified Pediatric Dentist and owner of Magnolia Pediatric Dentistry in Mount Pleasant, SC. Her passions in dentistry include nonpharmacological behavior management and minimally invasive dentistry. She has a child with special needs which has greatly influenced how she views the world and how she approaches her patients. Dr. Kunz has worked in various dental practices including DSOs, private practices, public health, and capitation models. She worked as a general dentist for 4 years before specializing in pediatric dentistry. Dr. Kunz treasures her time with her husband, Daniel, and her beautiful kids, Jared, and Esme. She is a classically trained pianist and volunteers at the Medical University of South Carolina Hospitals most Friday mornings sharing her love of music.
Advisor Ms. Lolinda Turner is the Director of Student Success and Engagement at Pacific Northwest University-School of Dental Medicine in Yakima, WA. She is also a Registered Dental Assistant with over 20 years of experience, DEI Practitioner, and was a Dental Assistant Instructor as well as the 2023 Puget Sound Business Journal Healthcare Hero and Delta Dental of Washington CEO Innovation Award recipient.
Her work entails exposing, encouraging, and supporting youth and young adults from all backgrounds to the wonderful world of dentistry. In her role as Director, she will address the unique needs of DMD students by providing holistic/proactive opportunities, academic support/advising, and transition support. She will lead the implementation of programs and services designed to promote the academic, personal, and social/emotional success, engagement, and retention of DMD students in close collaboration with the PNWU Student Support Services team and the Dean of Students.
Advisor Dr. ArNelle Wright is a wife, mom of two, an entrepreneur, and a graduate of the University of Florida College of Dentistry. In addition to practicing as a General Dentist in Orlando, Florida, Dr. Wright has dedicated the early days of her career to heavy involvement in organized dentistry. Dr. Wright recently completed her term as the 17th District Representative to the ADA New Dentist Committee and served two terms as the New Dentist Member to the Council on Dental Practice and is completing her 3rd season as Co-Host of the Dental Sound Bites podcast, also at the ADA. Locally in the state of Florida, she currently serves as President-Elect for the Dental Society of Greater Orlando, as well as the 17th District Alternate Delegate to the ADA. Dr. Wright has a passion for helping the next generation of dentists along their journey into the profession, with a particular interest in minority women on a non-traditional career path. Dr. Wright’s approach to dentistry and mentorship encourages students to value their role as leaders early on, while also emphasizing the significance of life skills necessary to lead their patients to optimal dental care.
Let’s give a warm welcome to our new Board and Advisory Council Members and celebrate our returning members!
About Diversity in Dentistry Mentorships, Inc.
Diversity in Dentistry Mentorships is a 501(C)(3) nonprofit organization committed to strengthening the diversity pathway from middle school to dental school through mentoring, educational and hands-on programming, and scholarships to youth and pre-dental students from African American/Black, Latinx, and American Indian/ Alaska Native backgrounds. Through the power of mentorship and exposure to the profession, they aim to improve the racial disparity of the dental workforce, drive health equity, and provide safe oral health outcomes for all communities. Be a #MentorsfortheMovement and sign up today. For more information or to donate, please visit diversityindentistry.org .