Alejandra Valencia DDS, MPH, MS
Alejandra Valencia is a native of Medellin, Colombia where she graduated from the University of Antioquia School of Dentistry. Before coming to the United States in 1999, Alejandra worked as a clinical dentist in Public Health settings for six years. She completed her Master of Public Health at the University of Illinois in Chicago and her Master of Science in Dental Public Health at the University of Iowa and is a current Diplomate of the American Board of Dental Public Health.
The focus and passion of Alejandra’s public health career has been working to reduce health inequalities, improve oral health outcomes, and increase access to dental services for underserved populations. Her studies have focused on understanding the barriers that Latino communities have to accessing and utilizing dental services. Alejandra’s study results have brought understanding about the implications of social determinants of health affecting access to oral health care services for populations of color and the long-term impact these determinants have overall health outcomes.
Alejandra is a member of the Oral Health 2020 Network – National Oral Health Connection Team, a group of oral health leaders assembled by the DentaQuest Foundation to affirm and support the needs of a growing network of stakeholders dedicated to improving the oral health for all Americans through system level changes. She serves in the Health Equity group, supporting the efforts of the Network to nurture a culture in which oral health is considered a targeted justice issue.
Alejandra is currently the Director of the Oral Health Forum; a community-centered initiative committed to improving oral health programs and services for all Chicago residents through education, assessment, policy and program development, and network collaboration. Through her position at the Forum, she has been an integral contributor in several efforts to advance the improvement of oral health for Chicago residents, such as the first and second Chicago Area Oral Health Plan and the Burden of Oral Diseases in Chicago. At the state level she was the lead investigator in the latest Healthy Smile Healthy Growth study; a surveillance project which assessed the oral health and obesity status of third grade children in Illinois with special emphasis on assessing inequalities affecting low-income children and racial and ethnic minorities.
Presently, Alejandra is leading a partnership effort with Chicago Public Schools and the Chicago Department of Public Health that woks towards the full integration of oral health services in schools located in high need communities in south Chicago. By delivering oral health education within the schools, case management services to families of children with dental needs, and leveraging community dental partners to establish dental homes, this investment aims to improve oral health literacy within communities, engage community members in their oral health, and increase the likelihood that oral health is incorporated into school health policy.