Huong Le, DDS, MS

Huong Le, D.D.S. M.A.

Myron Allukian Jr. Lifetime Achievement Award for Outstanding Contributions in Community Dental Programs 2020 Recipient

Against great odds, in 1975 a teenager and her family boarded the last boat that barely escaped the chaos unfolding in war ravaged Saigon. It has been with the same courage and vision that has defined Dr. Huong Le’s passion and commitment to creating a brighter future for those less fortunate. After completing her undergraduate dental studies at the University of Texas, she completed post graduate training in hospital dentistry and a master’s degree in health education.

Dr. Le’s remarkable career began at the community level, when she assumed the role of dental director at two community health centers (CHCs), and expanded when she became the inaugural chief dental officer for Asian Health Services (AHS).

Dr. Le’s visionary and innovative yet practical leadership style has fueled AHS’s ability to increase access to integrated health care to over 27,000 patients with 11 languages spoken. The organization has 70 staff working at six sites. One unique site is a community college-assisting program that combines providing comprehensive oral health care for community members with low incomes and a career-ladder opportunity for students. Under Dr. Le’s stewardship, the site demonstrated financial sustainability, thus paving the way for eight additional CHCs to receive funding and replicate the service model.

At AHS, Dr. Le recently led the opening of the first stand-alone dental and wellness center, which combines providing oral health care with screening for behavioral health and depression and was recognized by the Assistant Surgeon General as a best practice. In 2019, she initiated another innovative integrated care model that tests dental patients’ Hemoglobin A1c. The diabetes screening and control program is supported by the sugar sweetened beverage tax in Oakland, CA. Dr. Le advocated for the enactment of the tax, which, generates $11 million annually for prevention and mitigation of diabetes, obesity, and dental caries.

Beyond her extraordinary efforts at the community level, Dr. Le is recognized as a leader among her colleagues in both the state and nation. She was the first Vietnamese American on the Dental Board of California, where she serves as a board member (2009 to present) and formerly served as president. She is known for her clinical expertise as well as for her knowledge about the CHC environment. As president of the National Network for Oral Health Access, she championed the evaluation of and transition to electronic health records. She was chosen by the California Dental Association (CDA) to serve on the Committee on Workforce Development that was charged with developing critical policy recommendations that shaped CDA’s nationally recognized Covering Kids and Families–Access Initiative.

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