The AAO has announced the creation of a new task force to contribute leadership on inclusiveness and diversity issues and help ensure that the needs of all members are met. Last year the application process for the task force opened and members were invited to apply to serve on it.

“We are very excited to have eight committed and accomplished individuals joining in our efforts and bringing their leadership skills and creativity to our work on inclusion,” said AAO President Dr. Christopher Roberts. “We believe that diversity is a strength and ensuring the involvement of our diverse membership will only make the AAO stronger.”

The Inclusion and Engagement Task Force will have the following charges:

  1. Work to support and inspire diverse groups within the AAO by helping to develop tools and pathways to leadership.
  2. Identify obstacles for involvement in the AAO and make recommendations for change.
  3. Identify the unique needs and issues that face diverse orthodontists and implement plans to address these needs.

Dr. Steven Siegel of Glen Burnie, Maryland was appointed as the AAO Board liaison to the task force, which will also include:

Dr. Sunil Kapila of Greenbrae, California (Chair)

Dr. Kapila is Professor and Eugene E. West Endowed Chair of Orthodontics at University of California San Francisco (UCSF) and previously was the chair of the Department of Orthodontics and Pediatric Dentistry at the University of Michigan. As an educator, he has led in transitioning departments or groups into diverse and inclusive units, including recruitment, retention and career development of diverse faculty and students. His leadership helped achieve success in identifying, implementing and sustaining projects and programs that create safety and inclusivity of a diverse community.

An award-winning researcher, Dr. Kapila has received National Institutes of Health funding for research on the hormonal basis for TMJ degeneration and periodontal bone biology and has published two textbooks, Current Therapy in Orthodontics and Cone Beam Computed Tomography in Orthodontics.

● Orthodontic residency: University of Oklahoma (as a Fulbright-Hayes Scholar)
● Dental degree:
University of Nairobi, Kenya
● PhD:
University of California San Francisco (oral biology)

Dr. Hilary Nieberg Baskin, Greenwood Village, Colorado

Dr. Baskin has been in private practice for more than 25 years and works with five other orthodontists, focusing on patients who “fall between the cracks” in various ways. Patients include young people with developmental disabilities and economic hardship, the practice being one of the largest Medicaid providers in Colorado. Office locations were carefully planned to be on bus routes and the staff is multilingual. The team donates time and services to dental education fairs, the Colorado Foundation of Dentistry for the Handicapped, Team Smile, Donated Dental Services, Smiles Change Lives, the Colorado Orthodontic Foundation and the Give Kids a Smile program. 

With the AAO, Dr. Baskin has participated in political advocacy, attending the Professional Legislative Conference in Washington, D.C. and engaging with legislators on Capitol Hill. She previously served on the Board of Directors of Hadassah, an organization that concentrates on international health care and education and was awarded the organization’s national award for young leadership

● Orthodontic residency: Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Montefiore Medical Center
● General practice residency: Denver VA Medical Center
● Dental degree:
University of Nebraska
● Bachelor’s degree:
Colorado College

Dr. Gagan Bhalla, Mississauga, Ontario

Dr. Bhalla has maintained a private practice in Mississauga for over 26 years. He is a past Board member of the Great Lakes Association of Orthodontists and has focused extensively on community service in his home community as well as global charity work. He is an award-winning leader of the Mississauga Erin Mills Lions Club. In addition, he engages in large-scale efforts to raise awareness among Canadians of the holistic benefits of yoga and meditation. He serves as vice president of the Patanjali Yogpeeth (PYP) Canada and as secretary of Vedic Spiritual Heritage Foundation. The British House of Lords recognized his efforts by awarding him the prestigious Mahatma Gandhi Pravasi Gold Medal.

● Orthodontic residency: Saint Louis University
● Dental degree:
University of New York at Buffalo
● Certification:
Royal College of Dental Surgeons in Ontario

Dr. June Harewood, New York, NY

Dr. Harewood is currently the director of the orthodontic residency program at St. Barnabas Hospital Orthodontic in the Bronx, New York. She is also in private practice and has provided direct care to patients in underserved areas of New York and New Jersey since her first day in practice.

Engaged in diversity initiatives for more than a decade, Dr. Harewood has mentored pre-dental and pre-doctoral students, lectured in the Summer Health Professionals Education Program (SHPEP) and done community service work as a past president of her Student National Dental Association chapter. Currently serving on the Columbia University College of Dental Medicine’s diversity task force, she was previously the program director and an assistant professor in the Columbia graduate orthodontic program. She also served on New York Presbyterian’s Craniofacial Team, where she worked with an interdisciplinary team of medical professionals to treat patients with complex dentofacial anomalies. 

● Orthodontic residency: Columbia University College of Dental Medicine
● Orthognathic fellowship: (one-year) Jacobi Hospital
● Dental degree:
Columbia University College of Dental Medicine
● Bachelor’s degree:  University of Toronto, Trinity College

Dr. David Harmon, Mitchellville, Maryland

In private practice in Mitchellville, Dr. Harmon is an assistant clinical professor at the University of Maryland Department of Orthodontics and an adjunct assistant professor at the Case Western Reserve University, Department of Orthodontics. He teaches seminars on early treatment, clear aligner treatment, electro-surgery soft tissue management techniques and other advanced mechanics. He recently integrated 3D printing technology for use in fabrication of customized in-house aligners within his practice and has begun teaching the use of the technology to UM residents.

Dr. Harmon is a past president of the Maryland State Society of Orthodontists and a past Board member of Bishop McNamara High School, from which he graduated.

● Orthodontic residency: Case Western Reserve University
● Dental degree:
Case Western Reserve University
● Bachelor’s degree: 
Howard University

Dr. Christian Johnson, Kennesaw, Georgia

Dr. Johnson is in private practice in suburban Atlanta as a specialist in orthodontics and pediatric dentistry. She is Board-certified by the American Board of Orthodontics and worked full-time in pediatric dentistry prior to completing her orthodontic residency.

● Orthodontic residency: University of North Carolina
● Pediatric dentistry residency: The Ohio State University
● Dental degree: University of North Carolina
● Bachelor’s degree: 
University of North Carolina

Dr. Nick Kim, Sandy Springs, Georgia

Dr. Kim operates Suwanee Orthodontics in Suwanee, Georgia. He began his journey toward dentistry after being guaranteed early acceptance to dental school upon graduating from high school. While completing his orthodontic residency program. Dr. Kim served in the Resident Champion program, which provides outreach to residents about AAO activities, and participated in the AAO Professional Advocacy Conference in Washington, D.C.

● Orthodontic residency: University of Pittsburgh
● Dental degree: University of Alabama

Dr. Lauren Pass, Chicago, Illinois

Dr. Pass is in private practice in four locations in suburban Chicago and participated in the American Dental Association Institute for Diversity in Leadership. The Institute is an intensive program designed to enhance the leadership skills and provide networking opportunities for dentists who belong to racial, ethnic and/or gender backgrounds that have been traditionally underrepresented in leadership roles.

● Orthodontic residency: Columbia University College of Dental Medicine (chief resident)
● Dental degree:
Virginia Commonwealth University School of Dentistry
● Bachelor’s degree: 
Howard University