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Advancing Oral Health Equity in Texas: A Community-Driven Approach

February 28 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm Free

Oral health and overall health are intrinsically connected and when everyone has the opportunities they need, free from barriers, to pursue their best oral health, we see healthier communities. Our roadmap for oral health equity in Texas made community voice the driving force of the project. We contextualized disparities with community-led focus groups, interviews of state-level leaders in oral health, and a policy analysis of relevant legislative trends. Building on Texas Health Institute’s expertise in equity-focused research and systemic efforts to reduce oral health disparities, in this webinar we will share context and findings from our research and provide strategies to advance oral health equity at the community and state-level. Advancing oral health equity advances the health of all.


Natalia Chalmers, DDS, MHSc, PhD
Chief Dental Officer·U.S. Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS)

As the Chief Dental Officer at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS), Dr. Chalmers leads the development and implementation of oral health policy and innovation for over 160 million Americans. With more than 20 years of work experience in dentistry, public health, and clinical research, she brings a unique and diverse perspective to the CMS team. Dr. Chalmers has a Master of Health Sciences in Clinical Research from Duke University, a PhD in Oral Microbiology and Immunology from the University of Maryland, and a DDS from the Medical University of Sofia. She also holds a certificate in Drug Development and Regulatory Sciences from the University of California, San Francisco. I have multiple publications in peer-reviewed journals on topics such as opioid prescribing, emergency department use, and preventive dental services for Medicaid populations. She is passionate about improving access, quality, and outcomes of oral health care for all Americans, especially the underserved and vulnerable groups. She is also committed to advancing evidence-based practice, data-driven decision making, and stakeholder engagement in the oral health field.

Ankit Sanghavi, MPH, BDS
Executive Director

Ankit Sanghavi currently serves as the executive director of Texas Health Institute. Previously, he served as the director of community and oral health program at THI. Sanghavi provides leadership and direction on all Texas Health Institute initiatives and develops collaborative efforts with its local, state, and national partners. He earned a Master of Public Health from Texas A&M University in 2014 and Bachelor of Dental Surgery from Maharashtra University of Health Sciences India in 2011. His professional interests are research, innovation, and data in public health and health care.

Blair Williams, MPA, MBA, CPH
Director of Health Equity Research and Innovation

Blair Williams is a skilled public health professional dedicated to advancing positive health equity through data-driven translational research, innovation, multisector collaboration, and policy. She has 15 years of experience in public health with a multi-disciplinary educational background in health care administration, public health, research, business, and policy. As director of health equity research and innovation, Williams leads several health equity projects at the national, state, and local levels. She oversees national, multi-year big data health equity projects for America’s Health Rankings (AHR) and serves as a strategic thought partner on the AHR platform modernization and data equity efforts. In her current and past roles, she led the methodology, data collection, analysis, and dissemination of organizational assessments, community health needs assessments, community-led research, and policy assessments. As a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health studying health equity and social justice, Williams is conducting research on child wellbeing and building capacity for state agencies to implement models to advance child health. She received her MBA from Baylor University and her MPA from Upper Iowa University. She also serves as an advisor for a multitude of national agencies, including the American Journal of Public Health and the Child and Adolescent Health Measurement Initiative. Her professional interests include innovative approaches to improve equitable access to patient-centered care and diversity in the public health workforce.

February 28 @ 11:00 am - 12:00 pm