MLMIC had the pleasure of talking with Stacy McIlduff, Executive Director of the New York State Dental Foundation, to get an update on their new and ongoing initiatives. Ms. McIlduff joined the Foundation in February 2023.

Q: Thank you for taking the time to speak with MLMIC. What are the Foundation’s primary mission and objectives?

A: It’s my pleasure. MLMIC has always been one of the Foundation’s strongest supporters, and I can’t begin to express how much that is appreciated.

Our mission is to improve the oral health of New York State’s most vulnerable populations, including access to care for underserved and low-income communities, the elderly, Veterans, children, and those living in rural areas of the state.

The Foundation also provides support for dentists as needs arise, as was the case in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy, where we worked to provide much-needed relief funding.

One of the ways we fund our mission is by offering continuing dental education courses for dentists. For example, the Foundation was able to quickly develop an opioid training course for prescribers when the DEA mandate came out last year.

We also provide financial assistance to dentists who are seeking in-patient substance abuse treatment. If you visit our website, you can see all Foundation programs.

Q: You mentioned access to care being an important part of the Foundation’s mission; tell us more about that.

A: The Foundation’s new program, Salute Vets with a Smile, is connecting volunteer member dentists with Veterans needing care, including patients directly referred by Veteran’s Administration (VA) facilities. Veterans can request care by completing a simple online form.

Those dentists wishing to volunteer can visit the program page on our website to sign up. They can specify the services they provide, as well as their level of availability.

The Salute Vets page displays in real-time the number of vets that have received care, the number waiting for care, as well as the number of volunteer dentists (“Dental Heroes”).

Q: What are some of the other important ongoing programs?

A: Champions for Change is centered around engaging the next generation of dental professionals. We do this in a few different ways, including providing volunteer and mentorship opportunities for dental students to connect with dentists.

For example, at The Foundation’s Annual Brunch at the New York State Dental Association’s (NYSDA) House of Delegates, we seat student attendees alongside their sponsor dentists with the hopes of fostering a lasting connection.

Q: Is dental student outreach a large part of The Foundation’s efforts?

A: Absolutely. For example, The Foundation is very proud of the work we do with Special Olympics New York. We help dental students with transportation to get to the Special Olympics State Games, where they provide oral health screenings for athletes who visit the Special Smiles booth.

At the 2023 Special Olympics Summer Games in Ithaca, NY, volunteer students traveled from NYC and were able to screen 110 athletes in one day. It was a tremendous success and a tradition that we’re planning to continue this year.

We strive to engage students to get them involved in not just organized dentistry but also in giving back to their community, perhaps leading them to plant roots in New York State.

Q: What new initiatives does The Foundation have on the horizon?

A: On April 1st, we launched My Healthy Smile New York, a new pilot program to bring the Community Dental Health Coordinator (CDHC) model to scale in New York. A CDHC serves as a member of the dental team very much like a community health worker. Boots on the ground working with patients to help them navigate their dental care.

With this new program, we want to have CDHCs in different regions of the state. While we will gather data over the next four years to demonstrate this model’s efficacy, we do know it is working with community health workers. Why not dentistry?

Similarly, Tennessee has “Smile On 65,” an effective program with CDHCs working specifically with the senior citizen population.

Q: What are the biggest challenges for keeping each program not only running but also expanding?

A: Funding, both private and State. The Foundation has received funding from organizations like the Henry Schein Cares Foundation and has had the honor and privilege of working with NSYDA’s generous member dentists who help their community with significant contributions each year.

Q: What goals are you focusing on at the moment?

A: We want to leverage the support the Foundation has, examine the programs we offer and gather data that might help inform policy changes that will make significant advancements in improving access to care.

Another goal we have is to broaden corporate and community philanthropy and engage with partners who are interested in helping us get these programs to the level where they make the biggest impact. NYSDA members have always been very generous with their financial support, but we also need to expand our family of supporters to ensure that the work we do will continue for generations to come.

For more information on the New York State Dental Foundation, please do not hesitate to contact: (518) 689-2772 or