Oral Health Day 2024

Building and Retaining a Robust Dental Workforce
July 18, 2024, 10 a.m. – noon

Thank you to everyone who attended Oral Health Day 2024!

Every year, Oral Health Day is an opportunity for people from across North Carolina to come together and learn about innovations in oral health, policy advancements, and the continued work to create a more accessible and equitable North Carolina. Oral Health Day is for everyone interested in engaging in oral health advocacy — not only dental providers. Our mouths are part of our bodies, and oral health is whole-person health. If you would like to engage your community, advocate for systems-level change, and help create a better structure for oral health in North Carolina, register for Oral Health Day and join us in July!



10 a.m. Welcome
10:10 a.m. Oral Health Champion Award Presentation
10:20 a.m. North Carolina’s Oral Health Workforce, by the Numbers
Connor Sullivan, The Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research
10:45 a.m. Workforce Panel
Frank Courts, NCIOM Oral Health Taskforce, NCDS Council on
Prevention and Oral Health
Andy MacCracken, NC Center on the Workforce for Health
Stephanie McGarrah, North Carolina Pandemic Recovery Office
Melissa Smith, North Carolina Community College System
Moderator: Hugh Tilson, NC AHEC
11:30 a.m. Q&A
11:40 a.m. Solution Building
11:55 a.m. Closing

About the Speakers


Frank Courts, DDS, PhD
Chair, North Carolina Dental Society Council of Oral Health and Prevention; Co-Chair, NCIOM Oral Health Taskforce

Frank Courts, DDS, PhD, completed his DDS and Pediatric Dentistry Certificate at the UNC School of Dentistry. He also completed his Ph.D. in Microbiology/Immunology at the UNC School of Medicine. For more than 20 years, Courts served as Associate Professor and Chair of Pediatric Dentistry at the University of Florida, College of Dentistry. Courts subsequently practiced Pediatric Dentistry in Rocky Mount, NC, for over 18 years. He now works part-time at App Health Care in Jefferson, NC. Courts is active in the North Carolina Academy of Pediatric Dentistry and has served on its Board of Directors and as the organization’s President. Courts is also a North Carolina Dental Society member and serves as chairman of the Council of Oral Health and Prevention. Courts has also served as co-chair of the NCIOM’s last two oral health task forces.

Courts’ passion is advocacy for children’s oral health. He has served on the Medicaid PAG, initiated the state’s first hygiene-led school-based oral health program, and fostered many initiatives to improve access to oral health care for children and individuals with special needs.


Andy MacCracken, MPA
Director, NC Center on the Workforce for Health

Andy MacCracken is the inaugural director of the NC Center on the Workforce for Health. In that role, he leads collaborative efforts to develop and deploy statewide strategies that tackle today’s severe health workforce shortages and prepare for the future. Andy joined the Center from the NC Pandemic Recovery Office, where he drove policy and research initiatives and managed $200 million in programs supporting the state’s education, workforce, and health needs. He previously cofounded and served as executive director of a national postsecondary education policy organization. Andy has an MPA and BA, both from American University in Washington, DC. He serves on the boards of directors of the Chamber Orchestra of the Triangle and the KJS Legacy Project.


Stephanie McGarrah, MPP
Executive Director, North Carolina Pandemic Recovery Office

Stephanie McGarrah serves as Executive Director of the North Carolina Pandemic Recovery Office. A native of western NC, McGarrah most recently worked with the North Carolina Area Health Education Centers (AHEC) to help identify, measure and address health care workforce shortages across the state. Prior to that, she served as Vice President of Policy at the North Carolina Healthcare Association (NCHA) and as a consultant for UNC Health and taught and conducted policy research at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. From 2007 to 2013, Stephanie served as Assistant Secretary at the North Carolina Department of Commerce. She holds a Bachelor of Arts from UNC-Chapel Hill and a master’s degree in public policy from Duke University.


Melissa Smith, MSEd, RT-R, CT (ARRT), CNMT
Senior State Director of Health Science Programs, NC Community College System

In her role, Melissa provides oversight and support to the Continuing Education/Workforce Development and Curriculum Health Science Programs at all 58 colleges in the NC Community College System. With over twenty-five years’ experience in medical imaging, she transitioned from practice to educator and leader within the North Carolina Community College System. For the past fifteen years, she has developed significant educational programs and partnerships, focusing on enhancing healthcare education and student opportunities. Notably, she implemented the state’s first MRI Apprenticeship pathway and holistic admissions process. She has held various leadership roles, including Dean of Health Sciences at Caldwell Community College and Technical Institute. Melissa holds advanced degrees in Radiologic Sciences and Healthcare Education and is currently pursuing a doctorate in Leadership Studies. In 2022, she received the Excellence in Teaching Award/Community College Faculty of the Year from the NC State Board of Community Colleges.


Connor Sullivan, PhD
Research Associate / Data Analyst, The Cecil G. Sheps Center for Health Services Research

Connor Sullivan, PhD is a Research Associate / Data Analyst for the UNC Sheps Center Program on Health Workforce Research and Policy, providing data management and statistical analysis services for the Health Workforce Division.

Connor holds a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Virginia Tech and received his undergraduate degree from UNC Chapel Hill. Prior to joining the Sheps Center, Connor provided research services to the Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development, Cincinnati VA Medical Center: Trauma Recovery Center, Virginia Tech, and the US JFK Special Warfare Center and School. Originally, his research activities began with Dr. Eric Elbogen at UNC Chapel Hill with the Forensic Psychology Program and Clinic.


Hugh Tilson, JD, MPH
Director, North Carolina Area Health Education Centers

Hugh Tilson is the executive director of the NC AHEC Program and an associate dean of the UNC School of Medicine.

As program director, Hugh leads the NC AHEC network of nine regional NC Area Health Education Centers to meet the program’s mission to provide and support educational activities and services with a focus on primary care in rural communities and those with less access to resources to recruit, train, and retain the workforce needed to create a healthy North Carolina. That mission helps accomplish the NC AHEC vision where every North Carolinian is healthy and supported by an appropriate and well-trained health workforce that reflects the communities it serves.

Prior to his position at NC AHEC, Hugh oversaw his own consulting company, Tilson Solutions, which leveraged his more than 20 years of experience at the NC Hospital Association to provide strategic planning, public affairs, and communications consulting services to several North Carolina companies.

Hugh earned his undergraduate and law degrees at UNC Chapel Hill and his Master of Public Health at Harvard.



About Oral Health Day

Every year NCOHC brings oral health advocates from across the state for a virtual event featuring dynamic lineups of expert speakers on important topics in oral health, health equity, and public health.


Watch Oral Health Day 2023

Watch Oral Health Day 2022

Slides from day one, including data slides, can be found here.

For those who want to attend the solutions workshop on Thursday, June 23, you can find log in information above.

Watch Oral Health Day 2021


Watch Oral Health Day 2020 Parts 1 and 2