Council on Advocacy

The Council on Advocacy represents the interests of dental students on legislative and regulatory issues that impact the dental profession. The council launches grassroots initiatives in support of dental students and the profession and works to establish a legacy of action-oriented advocacy on behalf of our members' patients and the practice of dentistry.

Current Members

  • Kate McPherson, North Carolina, chair
  • Claire Sesson, Buffalo, Legislative Coordinator (Districts 1-3)*
  • Jennifer Lenning, Tennessee, Legislative Coordinator (Districts 4-5)*
  • Janae Momchilovich, Marquette, Legislative Coordinator (Districts 6-7)*
  • Brooke Vierling, Minnesota, Legislative Coordinator (Districts 8-9)*
  • Leigh Ann Wahl, Roseman, Legislative Coordinator (Districts 10-11)*
  • Grace Eichler, South Carolina, District 4 trustee
  • Gerard Scannell III, Louisiana, District 5 trustee
  • Craig McKenzie, Pennsylvania, President 
  • Stephanie Follett, ASDA Staff Liaison
  • Keely O'Sullivan Kurtz, ASDA Staff Liaison 

Past accomplishments:

  • The Council introduced ASDA’s Advocacy Track Program. The interactive webpage allows chapter leaders to determine which advocacy events they should hold at their school based on their chapter’s experience and resources.
  • The Council increased its social media presence by promoting the #ASDAadvocacy hashtag. Now ASDA members can search for advocacy specific events on Facebook or Instagram using the hashtag.
  • The Council on Advocacy hosted ASDA’s first-ever Advocacy Month. Throughout the month of November, members were encouraged to learn about the importance of advocating for the profession by participating in advocacy events and engaging with advocacy resources. The event was a huge success. Chapters across the country hosted advocacy events, participated in Advocacy Month challenges and demonstrated why grassroots advocacy and voting are essential to advance ASDA’s mission.
  • The Council reviewed pertinent bills that relate to ASDA’s legislative priorities. Under each bill listed below, you will find ASDA’s stance and the actions taken to advocate for ASDA’s position. Since a new Congress started in January 2017, the federal bills listed are no longer active. While these bills may not have been passed during the last legislative session, it is important to recognize the amount of support ASDA received on these issues.
    • H.R. 649, The Student Loan Refinancing Act: 2,346 letters were sent to legislators requesting that they cosponsor H.R. 649. 40 co-sponsors have signed on to this legislation since ASDA began advocating for the bill in 2015. The bill would allow new dentists to refinance their federal student loans at any time during the life of the loan.
    • H.R. 4223, Protecting Our Students by Terminating Graduate Rates that Add to Debt Act (POST GRAD Act): 1,871 letters were sent to legislators requesting that they cosponsor H.R. 4223. 27 co-sponsors have signed on to this legislation since ASDA began advocating for this bill. The bill would make students pursuing graduate and professional degrees eligible to receive Federal Direct Subsidized Loans.
    • H.R. 539, The Action for Dental Health Act: 1,144 letters were sent to legislators urging them to support H.R. 539. 114 co-sponsors have signed on to this legislation since ASDA began advocating for this bill. The bill allows organizations to qualify for oral health grants administered by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). These grants would enable organizations to provide dental services to underserved populations. 
  • ASDA joined with more than 30 other organizations to urge Congress to increase funding for the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research (NIDCR). NIDCR is dedicated to research in order to improve dental, oral and craniofacial health. The letter encourages Congress to approve an omnibus appropriation bill for 2017 that provides the Senate Appropriates Committee-approved allocation of $430.5 million for NIDCR.
  • The Council created a new “How to Lobby” video that will be available to members before they visit the Hill in March.
2018-19 Council on Advocacy Annual Report

*Legislative Coordinator (Districts 1-3) monitors Connecticut, Delaware, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Vermont and Washington D.C.

*Legislative Coordinator (Districts 4-5) monitors Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, Mississippi, North Carolina, Puerto Rico, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia

*Legislative Coordinator (Districts 6-7) monitors Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, Wisconsin and West Virginia

*Legislative Coordinator (Districts 8-9) monitors Arkansas, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Dakota and Texas

*Legislative Coordinator (Districts 10-11) monitors Alaska, Arizona, California, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oregon, Utah, Washington and Wyoming