Women’s History Month: Dentists offer thoughts, advice on leadership

Dr. Aguilar
Dr. Feinberg
Dr. Kim
Dr. Scoyoc
Dr. Summerhays

March is Women’s History Month, which celebrates the contributions women have made in the U.S. and recognizes achievements women have made in a variety of fields.

To observe the month, the ADA News asked five women leaders in dentistry these two questions: What does leadership mean to you, and what advice would you give young women who is interested in leadership roles in dentistry?

Lauren Aguilar, D.D.S.

American Association of Women Dentists president

Leadership means creating a space for others to feel inspired to work together to continue towards a mutual goal. To be a leader requires that you listen and inspire rather than taking charge of everything. Young women interested in leadership roles are highly encouraged to be their authentic selves and know when to put their needs before the needs of others because you can't pour from an empty cup. Don't forget that to become a leader in dentistry is thanks to many successful leaders before - try not to reinvent the wheel, be gracious, humble and happy.

Maxine Feinberg, D.D.S.

ADA president, 2014-15

To me leadership is the ability to inspire others and elevate them so you can achieve your common goals. Integrity is the most important trait in a great leader. My advice to young women in dentistry is understand the value of our profession and volunteer. No job is insignificant, and you can make a difference.

Mina Kim, D.D.S.

New York County Dental Society president-elect

Leadership is having a vision and guiding your team towards that vision. I believe another component of leadership is providing other dentists with opportunities to get involved, just as my mentors have done for me. Our strength as an organization lies in the diverse viewpoints we have and being able to be as representative of our organization as possible. I was part of New York State's first all-female executive board. One shared quality of our officers is that we value networking and following up. Connecting with others inside and outside of dentistry has resulted in sharing ideas, finding commonalities, and assisting in problem solving.

Stacey Van Scoyoc, D.D.S.

Illinois State Dental Society president

The one constant I have found to be my guiding principle is acting in the best interest of the group or organization as a whole. The action is often different than some individuals of the groups interest. It is more challenging when those actions conflict with my personal beliefs.  The advice I would give is to go for it!! It is worth the risk, sacrifice, and time. When the roadblocks, challenges and disappointments get in your way, do not let them deter you from trying. Also, perfectionism is not a prerequisite for leadership. Continuing to educate yourself and asking for guidance is part of the process. Good leaders take risks and learn from their mistakes.

Carol Gomez Summerhays, D.D.S.

ADA president, 2015-16

Leadership is the opportunity to help shape the profession for the better in our quest to improve health. I believe the number one responsibility is to identify, mentor, and grow other leaders. My advice to young women dentists is to get involved in leadership and take roles that allow you to balance work and family. Follow your passion. Stay focused and positive. Have a sense of humor. Find mentors and champions to support you in your personal and professional journey.

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