I have been in the dental industry for 12 years, in a variety of sales positions. Currently, I hold the position of Director Of Business Development and I am able to leverage my years of experience and my network of dental practices to close business.
My journey has been an interesting one. When I first began going to dental conferences, I was frequently the only African-American. The industry lacked diversity in those early days, but I have noticed changes over time.
There have been countless individuals who have molded me, guided my career and who have been mentors during my tenure. I’d like to take a moment to recognize the black leaders in the industry who have particularly inspired me.
For starters, Dr. Jerry Lanier, an entrepreneur, author and doctor, spent 23 years building Kids Dental Kare. He was able to build a small empire, sell his organization and exit with wealth and knowledge that he now uses to mentor and encourage others.
Another inspiration was Marvin Terrell, CEO of Divergent Partners Management, with over 25 years of experience leading companies and organizations in the global marketplace. His wealth of experience and strategic approach to complex and diversified business issues, has resulted in an impressive track record for industry success. Beyond the dental industry, his volunteer work with the Boys Girls Club of America has also been a great source of admiration. I value that he has been a great success in business and he still gives back to his community.
Ida Gray was the first African-American woman to become a dentist in the United States in 1890. While in high school, she worked as a seamstress, dressmaker and in the dental office of Jonathan and William Taft. Her ability to pass the entrance exam into the University of Michigan was aided by the experience she gained working in his dental office. She moved to Chicago, Illinois, and became the first African American to practice dentistry in Chicago and set up a practice servicing everyone, regardless of race or creed.
I would not be where I am today if not for the courageous individuals who paved the way for African Americans in the dental industry. I am so proud to work for an organization that is inclusive and intentional to encourage conversations around diversity.
To my friends and mentors, thank you. To Jarvis, thank you.