About the Summit

About the Louisiana Oral Health Summit

The Louisiana Oral Health Coalition, in partnership with Well-Ahead Louisiana, held its second annual Oral Health Summit, “The Road to Addressing Oral Health Equity in Louisiana,” on Friday, March 12, 2021 from 8 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

This half-day virtual event highlighted opportunities to advance health equity. Attendees participated in engaging sessions to learn more about the gaps in oral health care access for low-income children and families, and how to improve oral health equity by reducing disparities and expanding access to low effective preventive practices.

The Summit brings together stakeholders including dental clinicians, community advocates, local or state municipalities, students, Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs), Rural Health Clinics (RHCs), public health workers, academia and policy makers with a vested interest to improve oral health outcomes for all.

  • Learn More About Our Speakers

    MeChaune Butler, MPA is the Well-Ahead Louisiana Oral Health Promotion Manager. She is an innovative professional who has a strong passion in children and community health.  MeChaune is a native Louisianan working for the state department for over 20 years in public health. Her experiences include policy and partnership development, chronic disease programming and community advocacy. As the Oral Health Promotion Manager, she is committed to creating better oral health access opportunities, promoting oral health as an importance for overall health, implementing effective evidenced-based programs, and fostering and sustainable partnerships/collaborations. She is an active proponent for the Louisiana Oral Health Coalition and a member of the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD). She has recently served as the State Representative for the Dentaquest Oral Health Network which is now OPEN. She is also a member of the American Society for Public Administration (ASPA) and the Louisiana Public Health Association. She received a Bachelor of Science degree in Counseling and Master of Public Administration (Health Care Concentration) degrees from Southern University and A&M College in Baton Rouge. She considers herself blessed to be the mother of her two favorite girls.

    Stacey Chazin, MPA holds a master’s degree in public health from Temple University, a bachelor’s degree in communication from the University of Pennsylvania’s Annenberg School for Communication, and a bachelor’s degree in economics/marketing from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in organizational development and leadership at the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine. She currently leads capacity-building, training, and technical assistance for the Oral Health Progress and Equity Network (OPEN) comprising more than 2,000 advocates, organizers, providers, policymakers, and other oral health stakeholders across the country. Prior to joining OPEN, Ms. Chazin spent nearly a decade with the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS), a national health policy center, where she was director of prevention programs. In that role, she established and directed a portfolio of work focused on improving access, quality, and outcomes in oral health for Medicaid-enrolled children and adults. Ms. Chazin has extensive experience designing and leading multi-stakeholder collaboratives and providing technical assistance to state Medicaid agencies, their contracted plans, and public health partners to better serve low-income and diverse populations and reduce racial/ethnic disparities in care.

    Nicole Peace Coarsey, MPA serves as the Manager over the Division of Population Health at Well-Ahead Louisiana. In this position, she has oversight of the Louisiana Primary Care Office (LPCO) where she served as the LPCO Manager for two years. She and her team coordinate the Health Professional Shortage Area (HPSA) designations, administer the State Loan Repayment Program (SLRP), oversee the Louisiana Conrad 30/J-1 Visa Waiver program, the FLEX and SHIP grants, as well as other critical projects that strive to increase the healthcare workforce across Louisiana.

    LaTedra Collins, DDS Reared in the small town of Donaldsonville, between bayous and sugar cane fields Dr. LaTedra Collins was educated in the Louisiana public schools system and is a graduate of Xavier University of Louisiana.  After graduating dental school in Kansas City, Missouri she returned to New Orleans for a General Practice Residency program at Louisiana State University & University Hospital with certification in moderate sedation. Dr. Collins is licensed in Missouri and Louisiana having worked with Federally Qualified Health Centers, Dental Service Organizations and as an independent contractor.  She obtained a Certificate in Business Administration from McNeese State University in 2016.  Dr. Collins enjoys community service. She is a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.  She is a member of the American Dental Association currently serving as a Success Speaker. Past board member of the National Dental Association and member of the Academy of General Dentistry. Dr. Collins loves to travel and has participated on mission trips to Honduras, Haiti, and Bolivia.  Outside of dentistry she enjoys fishing, golf and spending time with family.

    Annaliese Cothron, DHSc is the Co-Founder and Executive Director of the American Institute of Dental Public Health (AIDPH). She received her Bachelor of Science and Master of Science from Mississippi State University, specializing in Experimental Psychology with a theme in Applied Statistics. She received her Doctor of Health Sciences (DHSc) from A.T. Still University and has a certification in nonprofit management and fundraising from Our Lady of the Lake University. After moving to San Antonio, she worked at UT Health San Antonio School of Dentistry for eight years as the Evaluation Coordinator for two school-based sealant programs, teaching as a core instructor in the Dental Public Residency Program and serving as Executive Director of the Texas Repository of Oral Health Data for Evaluation and Outcomes (ROHDEO). Ms. Cothron serves as a board member for several organizations including Texas Impact and the Texas Oral Health Coalition. Prior to joining UT Health San Antonio, she was one of the initial members of the Mississippi Tobacco Data Workgroup in the Social Science Research Center at Mississippi State University, focusing on health policy initiatives, tobacco susceptibility and cessation research, and administration of the Youth Risk Behavior Survey for the state of Mississippi.

    Cheri Crain was born in Houston, Texas and moved to Baker, Louisiana in 1989, right after graduating high school.  Cheri has been a resident of Zachary, Louisiana for over 30 years.  She has two children and three grandchildren.  She has been a softball coach, a softball board member, a girl scout troop leader, a girl scout cookie leader, a treasurer for drill team and many other titles throughout the years in the community. Cheri has worked for the State of Louisiana over 20 years.  She has worked at the Louisiana Department of Health, the Division of Administration and now works at the Governor’s Office of Elderly Affairs. She is the Compliance and Planning Program Manager II and oversees staff that are responsible for disaster management, the Ombudsman Program, program monitoring, program reporting and numerous other job duties. Cheri enjoys spending time with her grandchildren and breeding birds such as Parakeets, love birds and Conures.

    Douglas Cross, DDS a Dental Director and Dentist, Douglas Cross has had a vast number of experiences. For 23 years, he owned a private practice in New Orleans, Louisiana. He worked for the New Orleans Health Department and as a forensic dentist for the Federal Emergency Management Agency in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. Currently, he is working as a Dental Director/Dentist at EXCELth, Inc. in New Orleans and Dental Triage lead for the Louisiana Mission of Mercy. In 2015, he served as the vice-chairman for the LPCA Clinical Summit. Cross is a member of numerous organizations, such as New Orleans Dental Association, Louisiana Dental Association, American Dental Association, NNOHA, Louisiana Oral Health Coalition, and Hispanic Dental Association. He was awarded with Louisiana Primary Care Association Clinician of the year, Commanders Award DMORT Region III, National Geriatric Health Care Award, Baptist Seminary Service Award, Ohio State Honors Research Scholarship, and GNO Health Service Corps Grant.

    Shelley Finnan Lopez, MHA, BSN, RN-BC has been a Louisiana Registered Nurse for 24 years with 17 of these years dedicated to Children’s Hospital and 12 years in the Ambulatory setting. She is responsible for clinical excellence of the outpatient staff stationed at over 20 clinical locations throughout the State of Louisiana. Her passions include new hire onboarding, nursing professional advancement, and the promotion of outpatient health care services for the children of Louisiana. She received her Bachelor of Science in Nursing from University of Holy Cross and her Masters in Health Administration from LSU-Shreveport.  She is also nationally certified in pediatrics through the American Nurses Credentialing Center.

    Melisa Garcia, BS has 10+ years of experience in community outreach assisting at risk populations throughout the southwest border regions of El Paso, Texas, Las Cruces, New Mexico, and Cd. Juarez, Mexico.  There, she guided families in need to resources for medical, dental, nutrition and housing assistance at the local, state and federal levels.  Melissa has also served the State of Louisiana as Social Service Counselor for the Office of Citizens with Developmental Disabilities within the Louisiana Department of Health.  There, she served as an advocate for individuals with disabilities as a liaison to locate resources for dental care, dental coverage through Medicaid and provider donated dental services.  Now, Melissa is the School & Community Oral Health Coordinator for Well-Ahead Louisiana.  In her role, she oversees the Louisiana Seals Smiles, school-based/school-linked dental sealant program that provides free preventive services and education to underserved children within their school settings located in Dental Health Provider Shortage Areas.  She also provides administrative support and serves as an active member of the Louisiana Oral Health Coalition.  Melissa is in the final semester of completing her Masters of Public Administration at the University of New Orleans and serves as an active member of the Public Administration Student and Alumni Association to assist in providing a space for networking and professional growth for students, faculty and alumni.

    Dana Gray, MS has worked at the South Central AIDS Education and Training Center (SCAETC) for over 20 years. Her previous roles, under the Delta Region AETC, included that of the Education Coordinator and later as the Louisiana Local Performance Site Coordinator while working with and supporting the efforts of the Project Director and Clinical Directors.  Her experience helped in the development of various didactic, interactive, and clinical events that increased knowledge, foster change and raised awareness of the AETC and HIV to new and seasoned healthcare professionals throughout the state. Since returning to the AETC under the South Central AETC, she entered into the role of the LSU Health-NO Local Partner Site’s Program Manager; working to ensure work plan efforts were met while continuing to reach new and future healthcare team members. Dana currently serves as the Site’s Program Director/Principal Investigator. With her roots in place, she will continue to endeavor to meet the needs of persons living with HIV or at risk by ensuring AETC efforts support the training needs of healthcare professionals throughout Louisiana and the South Central Region.

    Gabrielle Juneau, BS currently serves as the Chief Executive Officer for Central Louisiana Area Health Education Center (CLAHEC), a non-profit organization dedicated to increasing the number of primary health care professionals and improving access to quality health care in rural and underserved communities in Louisiana. Our organization serves 17 parishes in central and south-central Louisiana. She received her BS Radiologic Technology in May 2008 from the University of Louisiana at Monroe. Immediately upon graduation, she practiced as a Radiologic Technologist at the Women & Children’s Hospital and Regional Medical Center of Acadiana in Lafayette, LA for almost two years before moving back to Avoyelles parish and realizing her passion for community outreach.  She served as the Director of Health Careers for CLAHEC for 7 years before being promoted as the C.E.O. This position has allowed me the opportunity to get to know the rural and underserved communities throughout central Louisiana and the barriers facing healthcare today. Our organization, through a variety of state and federal grants and community partnerships, conducts community outreach and offers health careers job shadowing programs to high school, college, and medical students in central Louisiana. She currently serves on the LSU-Alexandria Nursing Advisory Board and the Avoyelles Hospital Board of Trustees. Gabrielle and her husband reside in Marksville, LA with their two children, ages 10 and 8.

    Kristie King, MSW a social worker and community advocate with nearly 20 years of experience in the Nephrology (kidney) field which includes providing direct clinical services as a Nephrology Social Worker and developing various community-based initiatives. She earned a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology from Wayne State University along with a Master of Social Work. Her leadership experience has included both the non-profit and government sectors, strategically focused on building community-based health and well-being, often with special attention to the aging population and issues of equity. Overseeing the health needs and services of older adults as Division Director for the Office of Senior Services with Macomb Community Action, Kristie strategically identified and addressed barriers, ensuring that older adults safely age in place. Currently, Kristie is the Association Executive for The Southeast Michigan Senior Regional Collaborative (SRC), a nonprofit association of government and non-profit organizations that serve seniors and persons living with disabilities. In addition to her organizational management duties, she facilitates this think tank of organizations assisting them to collectively build partnerships that improve the quality of life for older adults and people with disabilities, through networking, training, and providing both direct and indirect resources. Kristie is committed to community empowerment and overall systems change. Her passion for community engagement lends her expertise as a Social Justice Facilitator complimenting her dedication towards achieving equity through diversity and inclusion practices.

    Mark Nichols, B.S, DDS graduated from the University of Texas, Dental School in Houston in June of 1982. He was in private practice in the Houston area for five years at Southwest Memorial. In 1987, began working at the Bering Dental Clinic, volunteering over 750 hours during the initial phase of the clinic. Dr. Nichols is currently the Director of Dental Services for Avenue 360 Health and Wellness, the Dental Director for the South Central AETC, and is Adjunct Clinical Associate Professor, Dept. of General Dentistry at the dental school in Houston. Since 1987, Dr. Nichols has seen over 15,000 patients with HIV and has been focusing his eforts on the treatment of HIV/AIDS-related oral pathology. He has presented abstracts and lectured in New Orleans, San Francisco, Berlin, Houston, and other cities in Texas. In November of 1990, Dr. Nichols completed a lecture tour in the People’s Republic of China. In January of 1996, he presented a lecture to the 18th Annual Asian-Pacific Dental Congress in Bombay, India, as well as to two medical schools in Bombay. In 1998 he presented Continuing Education courses in Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paolo, Brazil, and Caracas, Venezuela. Dr. Nichols has authored manuscripts in JADA, Oral Surgery, Oral Medicine, Oral Pathology, Journal of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. and European Journal of Cancer.

    Darmyra Perry, MPH is the Primary Care Grant Manager with Well-Ahead Louisiana’s Primary Care Office. She is originally from Mississippi. Prior to joining Well-Ahead, she was employed with the Mississippi State Department of Health where served as the Community Health Director for the Office of Preventive Health for 4 years. While in this position she and her team were instrumental in developing and implementing strategies for chronic disease prevention and health promotion initiatives across nine counties. Darmyra holds a Master’s degree in Public Health from Jackson State University. In her spare time, she enjoys reading, spending time with family and friends, watching movies, playing tennis and participating in any activities related to fitness.

    Edward S. Peters, DMD, SM, ScD is a Professor and Chair of the LSU School of Public Health’s Epidemiology Program and an Epidemiologist with the Louisiana Tumor Registry. In addition, he established and directs the School’s Epidemiology Data Center. Dr. Peters was recruited to the School in 2004 to help expand the cancer epidemiology research program. Since 2005, he has led the development of the MPH and PhD programs in Epidemiology. Dr. Peters received a BA in Biology from Clark University in 1985 and a DMD from the University of Connecticut School Of Dentistry in 1990. He completed a residency in General Dentistry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital in 1991 and a Clinical Fellowship in Oral Medicine at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in 1993. Dr. Peters earned a SM in Health Policy and Management and a ScD in Epidemiology from Harvard University School of Public Health in 1993 and 1999, respectively. He completed his residency in Dental Public Health at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine in 1996 and became a Diplomate of the Board of Dental Public Health in 2000. He is currently the Pfizer/Salvatore Giorgianni Professor of Health Systems and Chair of the Epidemiology Department at LSUHSC School of Public Health.

    T. Jay Ray, MS retired from the LDH Drinking Water Revolving Loan Fund (DWRLF) Program in January 2011. He returned in May to work part time as the Well-Ahead Fluoridation Monitor and a Project Coordinator in the DWRLF Program. Mr. Ray was previously employed as an Environmental Scientist assigned to the Public Water Supply Section in the U.S. EPA Region 6, Dallas, Texas. From 1986 to 1996, T. Jay served as the Administrator of the Louisiana Safe Drinking Water Program. He worked twenty years in the Kansas City and Dallas EPA Regional Offices. Prior to employment with the EPA, T. Jay was Chief Chemist in charge of treatment for a 50 MGD surface water treatment facility in Lubbock, Texas. He is also certified by EPA as a Microbiological Laboratory Certification Officer. T. Jay retired as a member of the American Water Works Association (AWWA), the Louisiana Public Health Association (LPHA) and the Louisiana Environmental Health Association (LEHA). Jay has a Master of Science in Microbiology from Texas Tech University. He has also attended Texas A&M University Short Courses and obtained 150 hours of Water Utilities Training, which enabled him to become a certified water and wastewater operator in the state of Texas. T. Jay is a Class 4 Louisiana certified water operator.

    Monica Roberts, RDH, MAT is the Dental Hygiene Clinical Coordinator for the Louisiana Department of Health, Office of Citizens with Developmental Disabilities Resource Center. She has over twenty years of experience providing direct oral health care instruction and clinical preventive dental services to people with intellectual/developmental disabilities (I/DD). Ms. Roberts has developed residential facility preventive recall programs, as well as, oral health training components for direct care service providers, dental auxiliaries, and inter-professional teams. She has been a presenter for the Louisiana Disability Summit. Her topics of discussion include ways to promote and maintain adequate oral health among people with I/DD.  In her current role, she also actively promotes oral health capacity building by the avenues of extending information, tools, and training to dental professionals seeking to better serve their patients presenting with special needs; and linking consumers and stakeholders to uniquely identified dental service providers. Ms. Roberts formerly served as an LSU School of Dentistry Associate Professor / Gratis Faculty Status and coordinated special needs dentistry clinical rotations for the junior and senior dental hygiene students.

    Terence Robinson, MPH serves as the Chronic Disease Epidemiologist at Well- Ahead Louisiana in the Louisiana Department of Health, Office of Public Health. Terence also serves as the Epidemiologist and Evaluator for the Oral Health Promotion Program and is responsible for designing and managing monthly tracking databases to track program activity outputs and outcomes, and surveil the prevalence of oral health outcomes. He graduated from North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University in 2014 with a Bachelor of Science in Biology. In 2019, he graduated from Morehouse School of Medicine Masters of Public Health Program.

    Lisa Staples, MPH is the Oral Health Lead for EatMoveGrow’s oral health program, she is based out of the Louisiana State University School of Dentistry (LSU SD). Lisa conducts research, develops policy, and manages the school-based oral health education and preventative services clinics. She works closely with EMG Health Educators and school administrators to coordinate in-school oral health clinics and classroom oral health education throughout the Service B Region in Louisiana. Lisa’s passion for improving oral health for Louisiana children is evident as she works with school administrators, school nurses, and local dental professionals to increase the number of brighter smiles in our state. Lisa was born and raised in Carmel, New York. She received a BA in Romance Language and Literature in Spanish from the State University of New York at Binghamton University. While pursuing her degree, she became proficient in written and oral Spanish. After graduating, Lisa was accepted into Teach for America and taught Pre-Kindergarten in Baton Rouge. Lisa’s interest in the overall well-being of her students led her to pursue a Master of Public Health from LSUHSC School of Public Health. Since Lisa began working in oral health, she has become the Louisiana State Representative for the Oral Health Progress and Equity Network (OPEN, Inc).

    Celeste Terry, RDH is passionate about oral health, prevention and access to care. She currently serves as the LA Grassroots Representative for OPEN Inc. (Oral Health Progress and Equity Network) where she is actively engaged in oral health access and equity. She continues to engage and advocate for oral health issues on a State level and on Capitol Hill. Additionally, she is the Louisiana HeadStart Dental Hygienist Liaison (DHL) through the National Center on Early Childhood Health and Wellness (NCECHW). She is currently employed with EXCELth, Inc. as a dental hygienist. Prior work includes program development and program coordination for the uninsured, underserved, senior citizens, homeless and persons with AIDS/HIV with the New Orleans Health Department for 36 years. She is a member of the Louisiana Oral Health Coalition, the American Dental Hygienist’s Association (ADHA) and the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors.  She received the Sunstar Award of Distinction for Community Service in 2011 along with recognition from the ADHA, LAOHC and NCECHW as DHL with HeadStart. She has volunteered for Mission of Mercy and gone on several mission trips to Lima, Peru, and Kingston, Jamaica providing free oral health services.  She obtained a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene from Loyola University which was the start of this journey to improve oral health for those in her community.

Oral Health Summit Recorded Sessions

Welcome and Opening Session

Billy Hall, DDS, Vice-Chair of the Louisiana Oral Health Coalition

Oral Health in Louisiana: Summit at a Glance 

Mechaune Butler, MPA, Program Manager, Well-Ahead Louisiana Oral Health Promotion

General Session 1

Are We United in Approaching Oral Health Equity? A National Perspective from AIDPH

Annaliese Cothron, DHSc, Co-Founder and Executive Director of the American Institute of Dental Public Health (AIDPH)

General Session 2

Addressing Health Equity Through Oral Health Progress and Equity Network (OPEN)

Stacey Chazin, MPH, Director of Capacity Building and Technical Assistance Open Health Progress and Equity Network (OPEN) and Kristie King, MSW, Executive Director, Southeast Michigan Senior Regional Collaborative (SRC)

General Session 3

Drivers Ed: Steering Louisiana’s Oral Health to Achieve Oral Health Equity

LaTedra Collins, DDS, Senior Associate at Taylor Dental

Breakout Session 1

Closing the Gap on Dental Workforce Disparities

Panel Edward Peters, DMD, SM, ScD, LSU School of Public Health; Gabrielle Juneau, BS, Central Louisiana AHEC; Nicole Peace Coarsey, MPA, Well-Ahead Louisiana; Darmyra Perry, MPH, Well-Ahead Louisiana

Breakout Session 2

Effective Preventive Practices for Schools/Communities

Panel Melissa Garcia, BS, Well-Ahead Louisiana; T. Jay Ray, MS, Well-Ahead Louisiana; Shelly Lopez, MJA, BSN, RN-BC, Children’s Hospital New Orleans

Breakout Session 3

Tele-dentistry: A Path to Improving Oral Health Equity

Panel LaTedra Collins, DDS, Taylor Dental; Douglas Cross, DDS, EXCELth, Inc.

Breakout Session 4

Assessing Oral Health Inequities Among Special Populations

Panel Dana Gray; C. Mark Nichols, South Central AIDS Education and Training Center; Monica Roberts, RDH, LDH/Office of Citizens with Developmental Disabilities; Cheri Crain, Governor’s Office on Elderly Affairs


  • OPEN’s Recorded Updates: This prerecorded video was presented to LOHC 2021 Oral Health Summit to provide attendees with updates from the Oral Health Progress and Equity Network (OPEN).  Updates were provided by Lisa Staples, OPEN State Representative and Celeste Terry, OPEN Grassroots Representative.
  • Advancing Oral Health Equity Through School-Based Oral Health: This published article provides information on the effectiveness of school-based oral health programs that address determinants of access to health care, health & well-being, and skill based health education in different settings aimed to achieve oral health equity.  Findings in the study show that school-based oral health programs advance oral health equity when implemented at different levels of influence.
  • Community Catalyst Oral Health Policy Equity Tool: This is an Oral Health Policy Equity tool provided by Community Catalyst can be utilized by key stakeholders, organizers, funders and advocates to analyze policies.  This resources can benefit in centralizing focus on oral health while promoting the principles of equity and community engagement.
  • Dental HPSA Map: This is the most updated Dental Health Provider Shortage Area (HPSA) map for Louisiana.
  • LOHC State Action Plan: The 2018-2023 Louisiana Oral Health State Action Plan outlines the combined goals of the Louisiana Oral Health Coalition members to improve the oral health of the state’s citizens.  The plan provides direction for achieving priorities set forth by key stakeholders representing individual oral health champions and multiple organizations from across the state.
  • Louisiana Oral Health Report Card: The Louisiana Oral Health Coalition (LOHC) developed the 2021 Louisiana Oral health Report Card to display how we compare to other states in the nation on oral health. The purpose of the Oral Health Report Card is to heighten the visibility and significance of Louisiana’s oral health status. The LOHC continues to work collectively to emphasize on the core oral health outcomes to address the gaps to influence policy change. The report card highlighted twelve indicators on oral health status, demographic coverage, utilization of services, awareness, and prevention, earning Louisiana a D.
  • National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research New Surgeon General’s Report on Oral Health: This report documents the national oral health progress since the 2000 publication of the first Surgeon General’s Report.  This report provides information on key issues that impact oral health, challenges, opportunities for improvement and future outcomes.