50 for 50: Congratulations and Thank You, EP Magazine Advocate Heroes! Part II

EP Magazine, formerly called Exceptional Parent, is celebrating its 50th anniversary of providing an award-winning forum for the disability community. With the recognition that it’s the advocates who have provided the landmark events in the disability rights movement, EP is proud to honor 50 Advocate Heroes and showcase their extraordinary work and achievements in the following pages. While we have all had the opportunity to learn from those giants and pioneers that came before us, we are honoring living advocates.

BY EP Staff | July 2021 | Category: Accessible Homes

50 for 50: Congratulations and Thank You, EP Magazine Advocate Heroes! Part II

Although it's safe to say that every parent of a child with complex disabilities is indeed an advocate, many of them have also distinguished themselves in advocating in a larger arena. Many of our showcased advocate heroes started out as parents, exceptional parents for sure. They combined their efforts in becoming teachers, therapists, counselors, lawyers, healthcare providers, researchers and activists. This special brand of advocates – along with all the others we honor – will always have a unique place in the disability movement, not only for what they have done, but also for those they have inspired.

On behalf of EP Magazine, its Editors, the EP Editorial Advisory Board, and a group of our peers in the disability field, we congratulate and thank our 50 Advocate Heroes for their tireless work in support of the special needs community. Our honorees will be featured in this and succeeding commemorative issues of EP Magazine.

Julie Beckett

“Advocating for people with special needs… I wake up every morning, thanking the good Lord that He sent Katie to me and then showed me the way to educate people about home and community services and their importance for all people, especially those on Medicaid!”

Julie Beckett, according to the Family Voices website, is the mother of Katie Beckett “who was the first Medicaid Home and Community-based Waiver child. The waiver was granted in 1981 and has become a vehicle for many persons with disabilities to receive care at home or in their communities. Katie passed away May 18, 2012. Ms. Beckett and Katie testified numerous times before Congress and worked on many projects in an advisory capacity for the Bureau of Maternal and Child Health, at the Department of Health and Human Services.”

Ms. Beckett worked very closely with the U.S. House of Representatives and Senate. She carried out her work together with advocates from the health care community, the American Academy of Pediatrics, the Children's Hospital Group, Children’s Defense Fund, who became great friends and allies. She helped found Family Voice's in the early 90's with her friends Polly Arango and Josie Woll, who were able to identify a parent in every state willing to help. They were volunteers before the passage of the Family Opportunity Act in 2005, establishing the Family-to-Family Health Information Centers. That now serve U.S. territories and Native American tribes.

Ms. Beckett believes she “was born to be a History teacher,” and so became one. She loved that profession, but was offered a job at the University of Iowa that housed the Title V program, the Child Health Specialty Clinics, and it offered her daughter Katie health insurance, so she gave up her beloved profession. She worked for 30 years there, moving between the program and the Law school. She briefly worked on a SAMHSA grant, and then for the Centers for Disease Control in the National Center for Birth Defects and Developmental Disabilities. Ms. Beckett retired in 2014 from the University, fulfilled, knowing that her whole tenure was filled with helping kids and their families.

David A. Ervin, BSc, MA, FAAIDD

“For 34 years, I’ve had the privilege of walking alongside kids and adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD), at the heart of which is advocacy. Our task is simple but abiding: working relentlessly for absolute, unabridged access to the fullness of community life for all people, most certainly people with IDD. This is my life’s work, however imprecise and imperfect, and I’m fuller, smarter and more complete for the journey.”

David Ervin is CEO of Jewish Foundation for Group Homes, a nonprofit supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) in Maryland and Virginia. With more than 30 years in the field, Mr. Ervin has extensive professional experience working in and/or consulting to organizations and governments in the U.S. and abroad. He is a published author and speaks internationally on health, wellness and healthcare for people with IDD and other areas of expertise.

Mr. Ervin’s current research interests include the impact of COVID-19 on people with IDD, health equity and cultural competence in healthcare delivery to people with IDD, and the impact of integrating multiple systems of care on health outcomes and quality of life. He was a contributing author to the Rubin, et al. seminal volume, Health Care for People with Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities across the Lifespan, and has authored or co-authored a number of peer-reviewed journal articles in 2019-2021 on health outcomes achieved by people with IDD through access to multidisciplinary healthcare models. He serves on a number of policy and practice committees, including the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, The Arc of the US Joint Committee on Long-term Services and Supports, and is on the Board of a Virginia community service provider association.

David Fray, DDS, MBA

“Growing up with a deaf father that cared about people with disabilities impacted my career and shaped my values. As a dentist, I sought to serve life as whole rather than focus on the need to fix teeth that may seem broken. I have had the privilege of blending two vocations, that of a health care provider and a government disability director. The inclusive journey for individuals with developmental disabilities and their families continues to lead us as a society to make us better. My deepest hope is for future leaders in healthcare to listen to people with developmental disabilities and dare to dream with them and their families to achieve healthy and enriched lives. It is with gratitude that I have been honored and with understanding that we all stand in the footsteps of progress of those that mentored and inspired us. Dr. Steve Perlman has been my mentor for decades. There are many others. But the person that impacted me the greatest is Paula, my friend.”

Dr. David Fray graduated with a DDS from UTSD Houston in 1979 and received his MBA with an emphasis in Healthcare Administration from Oklahoma City University in 1997. He served for 16 years as a public health administrator in two States as Developmental Disabilities Director after 15 years of a private dental practice with an emphasis on geriatric and adult special needs care. He is board certified in Long-term Care from the National Association of Boards and is a licensed Long Term Care Administrator. He holds a mini-residency certificate in Developmental Dentistry from the University of Louisville School of Dentistry and Lee Specialty Clinic in Louisville Kentucky and a master’s certificate as a Certified Healthcare Emergency Planner (CHEP certification). Dr. Fray currently teaches at the University of Texas School of Dentistry in Houston Texas.

He was Chief of the Developmental Disabilities Division (DDD) in the Hawaii Department of Health in Honolulu for 13 years. While there. the Division eliminated all waitlists and moved all services to community based self-determined outcomes. The United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) Annual Inclusion Report has consistently ranked Hawaii as a top-five state for inclusion in community services with high quality outcomes. As Chief of the Developmental Disabilities Division in the Hawaii Department of Health from 2002 until 2014, he administered statewide comprehensive health and community support services to persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Dr. Fray is the immediate Past President of the American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD) serving on the AADMD Board. He is a private pilot and scuba diver. He and his wife, Judy, are the proud parents of two adult children and grandparents to four grandchildren. 

Rick Guidotti

“Around the globe, no matter where I’m shooting, no matter which continent we are on, which language we are speaking, people everywhere share the need to Be Seen, Be Heard and Belong! Change How You See, See How You Change!”

Rick Guidotti, an award-winning photographer, has spent more than 20 years collaborating internationally with nonprofit organizations, hospitals, medical schools, educational institutions, museums, galleries, advocacy groups and communities to effect a sea-change in societal attitudes towards individuals living with genetic, physical, behavioral or intellectual difference. His work has been published in newspapers, magazines and journals as diverse as GQ, People, the American Journal of Medical Genetics, The Lancet, Spirituality and Health, Atlantic Monthly and LIFE Magazine.

Mr. Guidotti is the founder and director of Positive Exposure, a non-profit organization that promotes a more inclusive world through photography, film, and educational programs. It has significantly impacted the field of human rights, mental health, medicine, and education by providing new opportunities to see each individual as a human being and valued member of our society.

In June 1998, his work was featured in LIFE Magazine’s cover story entitled, Redefining Beauty. In collaboration with the Genetic Alliance and the National Human Genome Research Institute, Mr. Guidotti premiered a photographic exhibition for the People’s Genome Celebration at the Smithsonian’s Museum of Natural History in 2001. Since then, he has continued to develop exhibitions, lectures, workshops, educational programs and initiatives around the globe. Examples: The FRAME series (Faces Redefining the Art of Medical Education), a web-based film library that changes how medical information is presented to healthcare providers in training, clinicians, families and communities. PEARLS Project highlights our shared humanity by providing a blog platform where individuals from around the world can tell their stories, and allow audiences to experience life from their unique perspective.

Mr. Guidotti is the focus of the award-winning documentary, On Beauty, by Kartemquin Films. In 2019, Rick and his team opened their new headquarters in East Harlem on New York City’s Museum Mile that embraces individuals at risk of stigma and exclusion, and serves as a central hub for showcasing the work of visual, performing, literary and multisensory artists, as well as providing educational, cultural and artist-in-residency programming. He remains committed to collaborating with individuals, families and communities around the world, “celebrating the beauty and richness of our shared humanity.

Matthew P. (MATT) Janicki, Ph.D.

“It has always been my interest to produce and support the underlying empirical basis for much of what we do with disability advocacy and provision. I was fortunate to hold a career position with a state developmental disabilities agency which supported my interests, exposed me to what adults with disability faced, stimulated my ability to develop new program models, provided the environment for building a strong network of others with similar interests, and helped with expanding research in support of the programs we were undertaking. I am fortunate, even now after entering academic life, to be effective in undertaking both advocacy and expanding the science which frames the supports for addressing age-related disabilities.”

Matthew P. Janicki, Ph.D. is the Co-President of the National Task Group on Intellectual Disabilities and Dementia Practices, a non-for-profit engaged in advocacy on behalf of adults with intellectual disability affected by dementia. He is also a research associate professor in the Department of Disability and Human Development at the University of Illinois at Chicago, and a member of the federal Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services (under the US National Alzheimer’s Project Act).

Previously, Dr. Janicki was the director for aging and special populations for the New York State Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, and spent a year as a Joseph P. Kennedy, Jr. Foundation’s Public Policy Leadership Fellow at the National Institute on Aging and the United States Senate. Currently, he is leading a longitudinal study of specialized group homes designed for dementia-related care of adults with intellectual disability, including Down syndrome. He was the principal investigator of several federally-funded studies that examined how community agencies provide community supports to adults with intellectual disabilities affected by Alzheimer’s disease and how families are aided by community agencies in supporting adults with Down syndrome affected by Alzheimer’s disease. He was also the project director of a NIH-funded effort that provided the World Health Organization with a series of background reports on promoting longevity among adults with intellectual disabilities throughout the world. He was the founding editor of the Journal of Policy and Practice in Intellectual Disabilities and is also the editor of numerous books and author of articles on aging, dementia, public policy, and rehabilitation concerning adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities (including Dementia, Aging, and Intellectual Disabilities: A Handbook).

Barbara L. Kornblau, JD, OTR/L, FAOTA

“Advocacy to me means looking at how things should be for everyone – not just ‘able-bodied people’ – and spreading the word through organizing and collaborating with others with common interests in equal access to the world we live in, the services we depend on, and the opportunities in which we should all be able to participate – from advocacy for education, to housing, to healthcare, to employment, to community access, and community integration.”

Barbara L. Kornblau is an attorney, an occupational therapist, a former President of the American Occupational Therapy Association (AOTA), a certified case manager, a certified disability management specialist, a person with a disability, the mother of six now-adult children with disabilities, and a national disability rights advocate. When the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) first became the law of the land, Ms. Kornblau prepared the White Paper for AOTA to educate its members on their advocacy role under the new law. As a former Robert Wood Johnson Health Policy Fellow in the U.S. Senate, she worked on disability issues for Senators Harkin and Rockefeller. Following this Fellowship, she served as a government relations and health policy consultant to Special Olympics International and the American Association of People with Disabilities.

Wanting to ensure that people with disabilities were integrated into the Affordable Care Act (ACA), Ms. Kornblau organized and led a coalition of National, State, and Local disability organizations to advocate for the integration of people with disabilities throughout the bill. Through inclusion of all people with disabilities and evidence-based sign-on letters, they succeeded in getting the word “Disability” included in the Affordable Care Act, everywhere the words “Racial” and “Ethnic” appeared.

After ACA became the law of the land, she saw that some of the disability provisions were being ignored. She was told there was no evidence to support people with disabilities as an underserved population, even though this was specified in ACA. She organized the Coalition for Disability Health Equity, led this coalition of disability self-advocates, public health and disability researchers, disability policy experts, disability public health organizations, data experts, and disability advocacy groups, to collaboratively respond. She developed a strategy, and as a result of the compiled key data and evidence of the existence of disability health disparities, successfully negotiated with high-level HHS leadership. This resulted in HHS’ commitment to an action plan to end disability health disparities, on the same basis as racial and ethnic groups.

Ms. Kornblau has spoken on disability-based health disparities at the intersection of race and ethnicity as a panelist at several Congressional briefings as part of her role representing “disabilities” on the Health Equity and Accountability Act (HEAA) Steering Committee, which now recognizes that “intersectionality” includes people with disabilities.

Joseph M. (JOE) Macbeth

“I was hired as a direct support professional after two days of orientation, directly after graduating from college. I will never forget how unprepared I was to support people with significant and complex disabilities and medical complications. Sadly, nearly 40 years later, this hasn’t changed much and an unprepared, untrained and unprofessional direct support workforce is our system’s greatest vulnerability. While this advocacy is my life’s work, it is just a small part of doing what’s right and just for people with disabilities. We have much more work to do and this advocacy will never end.”

Joseph M. Macbeth is the Chief Executive Officer of the National Alliance for Direct Support Professionals (NADSP). He was the first employee hired by the organization in 2011 and has brought it to national prominence. He has worked in the field of intellectual and developmental disabilities for nearly 40 years, beginning as a Direct Support Professional.  

In addition to authoring and co-authoring several publications regarding workforce issues, volunteering for non-profit boards of directors, and creating a nationally- recognized certification model using digital badges, Macbeth was appointed by New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as a Member of the Advisory Council for the New York State Justice Center for the Protection of People with Special Needs. In 2020, he was added as an honoree for the 20th Anniversary Historic Recognition Project sponsored by the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) recognizing distinguished leaders in the field.

John McGinley

“My mission in the Special Needs Community is to advocate for those, who cannot advocate for themselves. My son Max McGinley, was born with Down syndrome. And Max has served as a gateway and a blessing. Through Max, I have been lucky enough to know and love, countless individuals who were also born with Down syndrome. Our collective journey is all about inclusion, kindness and acceptance. We are only beginning to see the light.”  

John C. McGinley, is remembered by many as an actor for his roles in the TV show Scrubs, as well as in Office Space, Wall Street, and Platoon. In the special needs community, however, Mr. McGinley is recognized as a passionate advocate for people with Down syndrome. He was recognized as Parent of the Year by iVillage.com. In 2011, he received the Quincy Jones Exceptional Advocacy Award for his work on behalf of people with Down syndrome, and people with developmental disabilities in general. 

Mr. McGinley is a Board Member and International Spokesperson for the Global Down Syndrome Foundation. In addition, he has been a Special Olympics Global Ambassador and was an integral part in crafting Special Olympics' “R-word: Spread the Word, To End the Word” campaign.  In his interview with EP Magazine in 2008, John shared this advice to new exceptional parents who learn that their child has Down syndrome: “Number one,” John said, “you didn’t do anything wrong. First and foremost, this is not reciprocity for any transgressions that you may have done when you were younger. You didn’t do anything. The kid has an extra 21st chromosome. That’s it. That’s number one. Number two: breathe. Get some air, because it’s going to be a while. Number three: start discovering stores of patience that you didn’t know existed within yourself. Because some things – reading, writing, walking, holding your hand, having a catch – are going to take a little longer. So, if you can find a container with patience and sprinkle it generously over your Wheaties in the morning, do it.”

Margaret A. Nygren, EdD

“The most fundamental aspect of social justice is the assurance that all people can access the essential building blocks – supports, education, healthcare, community, civil rights – for creating their best lives.”

Dr. Margaret A. Nygren has served as the Executive Director and CEO of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities (AAIDD) since 2010. Previous roles include positions at the Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) and a Fellowship in the Disabled and Elderly Health Programs Group at the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) in Baltimore.

During her tenure at AAIDD, Dr. Nygren has worked to advance awareness of effective strategies to improve the inclusion and quality of life of people with IDD through the organization’s publications, educational events, and public policy activities. Since 2011, she has organized annual international delegations to promote knowledge transfer and exchange among disability professionals, researchers, and policymakers of many countries.  She has delivered invited presentations at national and international conferences hosted by the leading organizations in IDD. She has testified before committees of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration on electric shock devices, and the United Nations on barriers to deinstitutionalization, and she contributed to the deliberations of the committee of the World Health Organization charged with drafting the “Disorders of Intellectual Development” entry in the forthcoming 11th edition of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).

Dr. Nygren serves on the editorial board of the journal Health Psychology Report and as a reviewer for Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. Representing AAIDD, she works closely with national partners to advance a shared legislative agenda, and with The Arc of the United States, to develop effective position statements on issues that are important to people with IDD and their families.

She currently serves on the following national advisory committees: the Down Syndrome Consortium of the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), the Institute for Exceptional Care, the Residential Information Systems Project of the University of Minnesota, and the Transit Planning 4 All project of the Transportation Association of America.

A Fellow of the AAIDD, Dr. Nygren earned a bachelor’s degree from Beloit College, a master’s degree from West Virginia University, and a doctorate from Nova Southeastern University; and she recently completed a certificate in diversity and inclusion from Cornell University.

Elizabeth A. (LIZ) Perkins, PhD, RNLD, FAAIDD, FGSA

“Advocacy is the ultimate expression of my education and passion for social justice and health equity. If anything I have said, done, written, or taught, has improved the quality of life for people with IDD and their caregivers, or helped the professionals that support them to do their job better, then that makes me happy. As a professional with a disability in the disability field - it is simply my duty to amplify the needs and the voices of all people with disabilities while demanding the respect we all deserve.”

Dr. Elizabeth A. Perkins is the Associate Director and Research Associate Professor at Florida Center for Inclusive Communities-UCEDD, University of South Florida (USF). Originally from England, Dr. Perkins is a congenital above-elbow amputee. She became one of the first nurses in the UK with this disability to qualify and practice as a Registered Nurse Learning Disabilities (RNLD; learning disabilities is the UK term for intellectual disabilities). Her clinical career has focused on health and long-term care in older adults and people with intellectual disabilities. She emigrated to the USA in 1998, where she returned to higher education, earning a BA in Psychology (summa cum laude) and a PhD in Aging Studies from USF. Dr. Perkins is a Past President and Fellow of the American Association on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities, and a Fellow of the Gerontological Society of America.

Dr. Perkins' academic career has concentrated on improving quality of healthcare for people with disabilities, as well as aging with disabilities, and caregiving research. She leads FCIC’s Florida DD Waitlist Campaign to raise awareness of the extensive waitlist for DD Medicaid Waiver services in the state. She also teaches a graduate class, “Issues and Trends in Developmental Disabilities,” and mentors graduate students, including medical students, as part of FCIC’s Interdisciplinary Training Program. Dr. Perkins’ research and scholarly work has been published in a variety of notable journals including the Journal of the American Medical Association. She co-authored the 5th, through the 7th editions of  Physical Change and Aging: A Guide for the Helping Professions, a highly regarded gerontology textbook. In addition, Dr. Perkins developed popular health advocacy resources and tools, including the popular My Health Passport, and My Health Report. She introduced the term “compound caregiving” and subsequent research to identify the unique needs of lifelong caregivers of adult children with DD, who also become caregivers to other family members. Dr. Perkins is an editorial board member for the journal Inclusion, and one of the first international editorial board members of Learning Disability Practice, a journal of the UK’s Royal College of Nursing.

Dr. Perkins was a recipient of the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregiving/Johnson & Johnson’s Mattie J. T. Stepanek Intergenerational Caregiving Scholarship. In 2020, Dr. Perkins was recognized as a National Honoree in the National Historic Recognition Project. Recipients of the National Honors were recognized for their significant national contributions to or impact in the field of IDD in the U.S.A. between 2000 and 2020. 

Maria Shriver

“To me, advocacy means caring about those with special needs. It means using my voice, my time, and my energy to make sure they can use theirs. It’s that simple. Whatever I can do, I’d like those with special needs to do. Whatever dreams I have for my children, I’d like the same ones for those parents and their kids. I envision a world where all of us are special and all of our needs are met.”

Maria Shriver is a mother of four, an Emmy and Peabody award-winning journalist, a seven-time New York Times best-selling author, an NBC News Special Anchor and the founder of the nonprofit The Women’s Alzheimer’s Movement. 

Always curious about the world, Maria has devoted her life to reporting and interviewing some of the biggest changemakers of our time. In addition to her work for NBC News, she is also the founder of the media enterprise Shriver Media, which produces award-winning documentaries and films, bestselling books, and a beloved popular weekly email newsletter called The Sunday Paper.

Shriver’s life and career are driven by her fervent belief that everyone has the ability to be an “Architect of Change” and move humanity forward in their own way. Her latest book, I’ve Been Thinking… and its new companion I’ve Been Thinking…The Journal – both which were instant bestsellers – were created to offer wisdom, guidance, and inspiration to those seeking to create a meaningful life of their own.

Mark Wolff, DDS, PhD

“Throughout my 40 years in practice, I have made it a priority to consider the needs of persons with disabilities, many of whom have expressed how difficult it is to find a dentist willing and able to accommodate their needs. It is my firm belief that EVERY dentist should be able to provide care to persons with physical, intellectual, or developmental disabilities. It is thrilling as an educator to provide students with experiences serving persons with disabilities, so that we can demystify the process of providing care and create equitable access for all.” 

Dr. Mark Wolff is the Morton Amsterdam Dean of the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine and a Professor in the Department of Preventive and Restorative Sciences. He is a celebrated teacher, globally engaged scholar, and deeply experienced clinician. He is a prolific author, lectures worldwide, and is a frequent consultant to the dental industry. He has been a lifelong advocate and educator for individuals with physical, intellectual, and developmental disabilities through the lifespan.

Dr. Wolff holds both a DDS (1981) and PhD (1997) from the State University of New York (SUNY) at Stony Brook, where he also served on the faculty for more than two decades. Prior to coming to Penn, Dr. Wolff was Professor and Chair of Cariology and Comprehensive Care at New York University. He brought bold and innovative thinking to his role at NYU, where he led more than 400 faculty and staff. Among programs there, Dean Wolff designed and implemented the world’s largest electronic dental-health record and fully digital imaging system. One of his final projects at NYU before coming to Penn involved building a new care center for persons with disabilities. He recently replicated that project at Penn where a new 3,500 square foot Personalized Care Suite provides preventive and interceptive oral health care for patients of all ages living with a disability. The Center features 12 dental operatories, and is outfitted to comfortably treat patients in wheelchairs and on gurneys. It includes a quiet room with low lighting and sound baffling for patients with sensory sensitivities. A key goal of the Center is to educate students as well as practicing clinicians, teachers, nurses, and caregivers on how preventive practices and teamwork can improve the quality of life for both people with disabilities and their families. Other initiatives Dr. Wolff has launched at Penn include a major expansion of the school’s community dentistry programs in West Philadelphia, and creation of a new policy center, the Center for Integrative Global Oral Health, that is working to craft creative solutions to address unmet oral health needs related to the worldwide prevalence of caries, periodontal disease, oral cancer and craniofacial deformity which impacts more than 3-billion people annually. 

ALLEN WONG, DDS, EDD

“Advocacy is the responsibility of everyone. We cannot stand by and watch injustice go unanswered. Our Hippocratic Oath guides us as healthcare professionals to ‘do no harm’ and in that we need to stand up and speak up for those that cannot. Our AADMD motto of ‘One Voice for Inclusive Health’ helps us to rally like-minded organizations and people to promote inclusive and equitable healthcare. Our small voices become large ones that reverberate and resonate to bring changes. I am energized by the many who advocate along with me in the pursuit of ending human suffering.”

Early in his career, Dr. Allen Wong knew that it was important to provide his best dental care to all patients. During his residency, he had an opportunity to work with those with special healthcare needs (Intellectual Developmental Disability/IDD, medically- compromised, psychologically or physically-challenged as well). Hearing the stories of how challenging it was to find a provider from patients, let alone a good one, made him aware of the problem of access to care. Moreover, seeing the gross neglect of dental care for these populations was, to him, alarming. He has been on a mission since his graduation to encourage, teach, advocate and provide care for those with special healthcare needs. His volunteering with Special Olympics Special Smiles Program further elevated his passion to make a difference. Now, as Global Clinical Advisor, he has the privilege of promoting access to care and teaching prevention practices through dental caries and periodontal risk management with minimally-invasive strategies.

The American Academy of Developmental Medicine and Dentistry (AADMD) was the organization that helped elevate the advocacy, education and access to care for those with IDD. As President of AADMD, Dr. Wong feels privileged to help deliver the message and work towards equitable healthcare for all. His recent bout with COVID-19 in the Intensive Care Unit for four weeks made him acutely aware of the isolation and stressful procedures patients experience in the hospital. Those with IDD are two to four times more likely to contract COVID-19 and six times likely to die from it. This is another example of health disparity.

Building relationships, challenging healthcare students to join in the mission, increasing educational curriculum for medical and dental schools are part of Dr. Wong’s mission. He says he feels blessed to have Pacific Dugoni Dental school, his dental school, support him in his various endeavors.

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