New Dentists Commit to Practice in Underserved Communities, Receive New Delta Dental Foundation Award

$125,000 awarded to five dental school graduates from Michigan, Ohio and Indiana

OKEMOS, Mich.--()--Five dental school graduates from the Midwest have already committed to making the world a better place and will receive a $25,000 award from the Delta Dental Foundation (DDF) as a result.

Increasing access to care by encouraging graduating dental students to practice in areas of high need is the impetus behind the Community Commitment Award.

Four dental school graduates from the University of Detroit Mercy, Case Western Reserve University, Indiana University and Ohio State University were recently awarded the Community Commitment Award.

A fifth student from the University of Michigan received a similar award— the Patrick P. Gribben Jr. Community Commitment Award.

The Delta Dental Foundation Community Commitment Award, new this year, was modeled after the Patrick P. Gribben Jr. Community Commitment Award which was established in 2014, to honor the memory of Patrick P. Gribben Jr. He served for 25 years as the president and chief executive officer of Delta Dental of Michigan and later as President of the Delta Dental Foundation.

In order to receive the award, the students must serve in the state in which they attended school and practice for at least one year in a Health Professional Shortage Area.

“Having regular access to dental care is important for maintaining good oral and overall health,” said Teri Battaglieri, director, Delta Dental Foundation. “We are very proud to recognize these five new dentists for their commitment to practice in underserved areas in their respective states and wish them the best as they begin their dental careers.”

The students were noted by their nominators for their work ethic, leadership and a strong desire to care for underserved populations.

"The unique opportunity to serve the underprivileged is important to most dental students. Unfortunately, the reality is that the significant cost of a dental education often impedes a new graduate’s ability to work in a community where the goal is to promote and preserve the health, welfare and physical well-being of residents,” said Philip Aftoora, Director of Student Services, CWRU School of Dental Medicine.

Patrick P. Gribben Jr. Community Commitment Award:

Chelsea Pinozek
Hometown: Escanaba, Michigan
School: University of Michigan
Destination: Health Delivery, Inc. in Saginaw, Michigan

Community Commitment Awards:

Trevor G. Kay
Hometown: Clinton Township, Michigan
School: University of Detroit Mercy
Destination: Private group practice in North Branch and Caro

Nichole Barnett
Hometown: Henderson, Kentucky
School: Indiana University
Destination: Valley Professionals Community Health Center in Cayuga, Indiana

Jacob Venoy
Hometown: Pomeroy, Ohio
School: Ohio State University
Destination: Hopewell Health Centers, Inc. in McArthur, Ohio

Lina Torres
Hometown: Bogota, Colombia
School: Case Western Reserve University
Destination: Destiny Dental in Cleveland, Ohio

About the Delta Dental Foundation

The Delta Dental Foundation is a nonprofit, charitable organization established in 1980, which serves as the philanthropic arm of Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio, Indiana and North Carolina. The Foundation’s goals are to support education and research for the advancement of dental science and to promote the oral health of the public through education and service activities, particularly for those with special needs. For more information, visit


Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana
Lisa Ermak, Media and Public Relations Coordinator, 517-896-1041


Delta Dental of Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana
Lisa Ermak, Media and Public Relations Coordinator, 517-896-1041