The Society of American Indian Dentists (SAID) announces their 2021-23 Board of Directors. This year, the board expands to nine voting members including, for the first time ever, a student dentist.
SAID’s newly elected President, Dr. Felicia Fontenot said, “I am extremely humbled to carry the torch of the SAID Presidency. I will continue to advocate for resources and actions that will help increase the number of Native Americans in our profession of dentistry. In my actions as the first Mescalero Apache dentist, and as a female dentist, I have had to become comfortable with the discomfort of being the only person like me in the room. But I will not be comfortable with the current status of our representation in this field. I am committed to action and not undecided in where I stand in my response to systemic racism and other barriers that prevent our people from becoming dentists, and bar our communities from obtaining the oral health care they need.”
2021-2023 Board of Directors
- Felicia Fontenot, D.D.S, (Mescalero Apache) – President
- Cristin Haase, D.M.D., M.P.H. (Cheyenne River Sioux) – Vice President
- Adrian Sandoval, D.D.S. (Navajo) – Secretary
- Frederick John, D.M.D. (Pyramid Lake Paiute) – Treasurer and Immediate Past President
- George Blue Spruce, Jr., D.D.S., M.P.H., Pueblo (Laguna/Ohkay-Owingeh) – President Emeritus and Founder
- Jessica Bremerman, D.D.S. (Yakama Nation) – At-Large Board Member
- Seth Brooks, D.D.S. (Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma) – At-Large Board Member
- Tommie Chavis II, Student Dentist (Lumbee) – At-Large Board Member
- Jessica A. Rickert, D.D.S. (Potawatomi) – At-Large Board Member
- Jerry Snell, D.D.S. (Cherokee) – At-Large Board Member
Detailed Board of Directors’ bios and photos can be found here, http://www.thesaidonline.org/who-we-are.
As the first Student Dentist of the SAID Board, Student Tommie Chavis II represents 30+ SAID student members. He states, “I am very excited to be taking on the role of student member on the SAID board to represent all American Indian dental and pre-dental students as well as working to increase dental school access for American Indian people.” Read about Mr. Chavis’ own experience getting into dental school here, https://wp.me/pc2CNJ-1M
Janice Morrow, who has been SAID’s only staff for the last six years, was named SAID’s first Executive Director. She has an extensive career in nonprofit work especially as it relates to American Indian/Alaskan Native dentistry (AI/AN). She says, “The mission of SAID is near and dear to my heart, especially promoting the importance of oral health to parents of American Indian children. It is important to me to share with young dental patients receiving care through Tribal/Urban/IHS clinics that they, too, could become a dentist. We have a long way to go but SAID is committed and poised to continue building the pathways.”
SAID is a grassroots organization founded in 1990 by Dr. George Blue Spruce Jr., DDS, MPH and five other Creighton University Alumni Dentists. Their original reason for organizing was to work collectively to meet the needs of American Indian dentists, dental students, and dental auxiliaries, improving both the status for American Indian/Alaska Native (AI/AN) dentists within the overall profession of dentistry and strengthen the educational pathway for AI/AN students. Today, SAID continues with its original mission. In 2020 and 2021, ten SAID students graduated from dental schools across the country. While SAID is proud to have a continuous increase of American Indian/Alaska Native students joining our organization as pre-dental and dental students, we are dedicated to entering at least one SAID student in each of the 60+ US dental schools annually. Corporate partnerships allow SAID to continue to offer scholarships and programs that benefit AI/AN students in their pursuit of dental careers.
We invite you to join the SAID! Visit http://www.thesaidonline.org/