ADA launches Champions Network to bolster diversity, inclusion efforts

Initiative to equip national, state, local leaders with skills, resources, tools

The ADA is launching a new initiative that can help national, state and local leaders create a relevant and sustainable organization for future generations.

Aptly called the Champions Network, the new program will equip national, state and local leaders with the skills and resources to ensure all members feel welcomed and represented.

“The ADA has been making progress with diversity and inclusion over the past two years,” said Susan Doroshow, D.D.S., 8th District trustee and chair of the Diversity and Inclusion Committee, citing the adoption an ADA policy at last year’s House of Delegates to demonstrate its commitment on diversity and inclusion.

“But if we truly want every member to feel accepted and welcomed, we’ll need more leaders and volunteers at every level of the tripartite to support our efforts,” Dr. Doroshow said. “The new Champions Network has been launched to support that goal.”

The Champions Network will convene virtually throughout the year, starting on May 26 at 7 p.m. Central time.

Attendees will have opportunities to participate in educational sessions and discussions on topics such as transformational leadership, change management and intercultural competence. Participants will also have access to resources, best practices and tools that can help them implement diversity and inclusion efforts within their dental societies.

“By establishing a network of key volunteers, arming them with resources and supporting their commitment to advance diversity, equity and inclusion, we’ll be creating ‘change agents’ for state and dental societies,” Dr. Doroshow said.

According to the ADA Health Policy Institute, the dentist workforce continues to see increases in racial and gender diversity. In 2020, the dentist workforce racial demographics were 70.2% white; 18% Asian; 5.9% Hispanic; and 3.8% Black. In 2005, the demographics were 79.8% white; 11.8% Asian; 4.2% Hispanic; and 3.7% Black.

Meanwhile, the dentist workforce was 34.5% female in 2020, compared to 24.1% in 2010. That percentage is expected to continue to grow with the growth of the proportion of female dental school graduates.

“The demographics of dental school enrollment has changed since the baby boomer era, with more women — greater than 50% of some classes — and more ethnically diverse students,” Dr. Doroshow said. “But more important than building ADA membership is improving oral health equity. Ultimately, the measure of our diversity and inclusion will be when we’re attracting ethnically diverse students into dentistry, supporting their success in school, helping to guide them on their professional journeys and opening their ears and hearts to what they can teach us about how the ADA can truly advance oral health in their communities.”

The Champions Network participants will receive access to Basecamp, an online community for network communications, along with resources to implement diversity- and inclusion-focused efforts for dental organizations.

Future virtual meeting dates include June 23, Aug. 18, Dec. 8 and Feb. 23, 2023. A Champions Celebration will also be held at SmileCon on Oct. 13 in Houston.

For those interested in participating in the Champions Network program, contact .

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