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2017 DentaQuest Health Equity Heroes Recognized for Exceptional Efforts to Enhance Health


NYU Meyers’ Judith Haber among the five leaders honored for striving to achieve equity in local communities across the country

New York University’s Rory Meyers College of Nursing’s Judith Haber, PhD, APRN-BC, FAAN, executive director of the Oral Health Nursing Education and Practice (OHNEP) program and the Ursula Springer Leadership Professor in Nursing, was named a 2017 DentaQuest Health Equity Hero. The award, now in its third year, recognizes and commends the work of leaders who are breaking down barriers and developing innovative programming to improve health outcomes and access to care for underserved populations.


Haber is lauded throughout the health care industry for her innumerable contributions to dental, medical and behavior health, and her expertise in interprofessional practice. In addition to leading the OHNEP program, a national nursing oral health initiative, Haber is also the principal investigator of the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA)-funded Teaching Oral-Systemic Health (TOSH) Program and a leader in nursing education.

“I am honored to be recognized as a 2017 DentaQuest Health Equity Hero,” says Haber. “Health equity for me means that all people across the lifespan have access to affordable and effective oral health care as a right not a privilege, and all health professionals—nurses, nurse practitioners, midwives, physicians, physician assistants, pharmacists, and other professionals–can play an essential role in considering oral health as a key component of whole person care.”

The DentaQuest Health Equity Hero awards honor winners for their contributions locally and nationally. The efforts of this year’s award recipients span critical health needs including improving access to oral health and other types of care, promoting collaboration among health care providers, encouraging community water fluoridation, training community health leaders and more.

“We are honored to recognize these pioneers for their decades of service and unparalleled leadership in improving the health and equity of their local communities,” says Steve Pollock, president and CEO of DentaQuest. “As we strive to improve the oral health of all, this work is core to our organization’s efforts and demonstrates the opportunities for each of us to create change in our communities.”

Each hero will receive a $1,000 donation from DentaQuest’s Citizenship Fund toward a nonprofit of his or her choice that is committed to promoting health equity. DentaQuest is the nation’s leading oral health enterprise and largest Medicaid dental benefits company serving 24 million members across 30 states.

The other 2017 DentaQuest Health Equity Heroes are:

  • Johnny Johnson, Jr., DMD, MS, president of the American Fluoridation Society (Palm Harbor, Fla.)
  • Gary Schwarz, DDS, MSD, co-founder and immediate past president of the board of directors for Dentists Who Care (Weslaco, Texas)
  • Richard A. Simpson, DMD, chair of the Oral Health Coalition of Alabama, and pediatric dental liaison to the Alabama Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (Tuscaloosa, Ala.)
  • Julie Smithwick, LMSW, founder and executive director of PASOs (Columbia, S.C.)
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