NYU Dentistry Center for Oral Health Policy & Management

About the Center

The NYU Dentistry Center for Oral Health Policy and Management is an interdepartmental and interdisciplinary think tank that focuses on oral health policy and management in the 21st century. A key focus of the center is to develop and promote a national agenda for oral health policy and management that recognizes the fundamental relationship between oral health and overall health and the responsibilities that the dental professions have for the overall well-being of the public. To create and further this agenda, the center will leverage NYU Dentistry’s existing resources and will engage with university, local, national, and international partners to create synergies related to oral health policy and management. Through research, publications, programming, and academic offerings, the center creates ways to further explore essential oral health policy and management issues regarding oral health and dental education.


Leadership: Learning it, Living it


Leadership Education Portfolio

This initiative strives to develop adaptive leaders who are prepared to perform in uncertain, complex, and ambiguous environments in the future. Its mission is to educate the next generation of leaders for the dental and health professions using a character-based model of leadership.

The process of leadership development differs significantly from most other experiences in dental education. Leadership is an art; it is creative and experiential rather than scientific. To foster leaders who will ensure a healthy future for dentistry, a different kind of education must be available, hence the motto: “Learning it, Living it.” At NYU Dentistry, this education includes:

  • The NYU Dentistry Leadership Track. This program is open to all students throughout the academic year. In fall 2021, the College enhanced this offering by formalizing it as a twice-monthly lecture series focused on character-based leadership, and began promoting this to all administrators, staff, and faculty as well as students.
  • Student Leadership Mock Congressional Hearing. Each spring, students are invited to apply for this competitive program, which trains students in leadership, advocacy, and public speaking. Participants prepare and deliver testimony on a health policy topic before a mock congressional panel.
  • The Dental Student Leadership Institute (DDSLI). Each year, up to 35 D1 students are selected to take part in the DDSLI, which is a three-year elective, curricular program. Participants engage in seminars, workshops, internships, mentoring, and other opportunities designed to prepare them to manage the complex challenges of advancing oral health in the 21st century.
  • Global Health Care Leaders: Washington, DC. Students from every academic program at NYU Dentistry are eligible to apply for this professional development experience, which takes students each spring to NYU’s Global Academic Center in Washington, DC. Participants engage in leadership, advocacy, and public speaking workshops and meet with federal lawmakers to advocate for issues related to oral health, including access to care and research funding.
  • Global Health Care Leaders: NYU Global Academic Centers. D4 DDS students are eligible to apply for this international experience. Selected students travel to one of NYU’s Global Academic Centers each year and meet with dental educators and regulators from across the globe to explore and compare differences and similarities in the practice of dentistry, dental education, and the regulation of the profession. In fall 2023, this program took place at NYU Villa La Pietra in Florence, Italy.


Center Leadership & Administration

Richard W. Valachovic, DMD, MPH

Founding Director

Dr. Richard W. Valachovic is a Clinical Professor at NYU College of Dentistry and President Emeritus of the American Dental Education Association (ADEA). His career prior to joining ADEA included positions on the faculties and administration of the schools of dental medicine at Harvard University and the University of Connecticut. He served on the attending staff of four Harvard teaching hospitals and the Dempsey Hospital in Farmington CT. He was the Chief of Dentistry and Director of the employee and student dental insurance plans at the Harvard University Health Service in Cambridge MA. His areas of professional interest include health policy and management, clinical decision analysis, interprofessional education and leadership. Dr. Valachovic holds a DMD degree from the University of Connecticut and an MPH degree and an ScM (Health Policy and Management) degree from Harvard University. He completed residency programs in pediatric dentistry and dental public health. He is a Diplomate of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology and Past President of the American Academy of Oral and Maxillofacial Radiology. He is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

Michael P. O'Connor, EdD, MPA

Founding Co-Director

Dr. Michael P. O’Connor is Executive Vice Dean at NYU College of Dentistry. His academic appointment is in the Department of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery, and he is Clinical Professor Emeritus of Health Policy and Management at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health. Prior to joining NYU, Dr. O'Connor was Vice President & Senior Associate Dean for Organizational & Professional Development and Vice President & Senior Associate Dean for Budget & Finance and CFO at the Columbia University Medical Center. He also served as the Mailman School of Public Health's Vice Dean for Finance and Administration for over twenty years. His areas of professional interest include health policy and management, employment law, organizational development, contract negotiations, conflict resolution, not-for-profit finance and administration, leadership, mentoring, and academic health center management. Dr. O'Connor holds a doctoral degree in education from Columbia University and an MPA from the City University of New York.

Gabriela Gonzalez

Administrative Staff

Ms. Gabriela Gonzalez is the Administrator of Strategic Initiatives in the Office of Budget Planning and Strategic Initiatives at NYU College of Dentistry. She is skilled in organizational development, operations management, team coordination, and project management. She holds a bachelor’s degree focused on business administration and management from Metropolitan College of New York.