New Staff Feature: Dr. Zachary Brian joins the NC Oral Health Collaborative

In December 2018, Zachary Brian joined the Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation as the Program Director of the NC Oral Health Collaborative. In this role, he will lead NCOHC in strategic planning and partnerships, and will manage the activities of the program including evaluation and capacity-building.

We asked Zachary a few questions to get to know him better.

Q: Where are you from and how did you end up in North Carolina?

I’m originally from Kentucky, but have recently been working as the Dental Director for a Federally Qualified Health Center in New Haven, Connecticut. While visiting family in Chapel Hill, I stumbled upon the job posting for the NCOHC Program Director position with the Foundation. I had been looking for the opportunity to focus on oral health equity and access full-time, and given my love for the South, this position seemed to align perfectly. So, when I discovered the Foundation and its amazing mission, it was an opportunity too good to pass up. I applied that same day.

Q: What drew you to the Foundation for Health Leadership & Innovation (or this line of work)?

 I’ve spent my entire professional career in public health. Growing up in rural Kentucky, I know firsthand the challenges facing oral health equity and access, particularly in the South. While I really enjoy practicing clinical dentistry, as a Site Director and Dental Director for public health centers, I discovered a passion for advocacy, partnerships, and outreach, and shifted my focus toward affecting change in those arenas. I was naturally drawn to the Foundation for its cutting-edge work increasing equity and access throughout the state.

 Q: What type of organizations have you worked for in the past?

 I’ve had the opportunity to work with some great organizations in public health. After graduating from dental school, I relocated to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to manage a dental clinic for the Sault Tribe of Chippewa Indians. It was there that I developed a passion to improve oral health in underserved communities. That interest led me to New Haven, Connecticut, where I served as Dental Director overseeing a dental clinic in close partnership with Yale University. I also really enjoy teaching and have recently served as adjunct faculty for both North Central Michigan College and Ferris State University, teaching Biology, Anatomy & Physiology, and Dental Hygiene.

 Q: What are you excited for in this position?

 The Program Director position is really a dream job for me, and I’m excited to be able to fully dedicate myself to increasing equity and access for disadvantaged and underserved populations in North Carolina. The NCOHC has been at the forefront of these issues since its inception, and I’m looking forward to building upon that strong foundation with innovative programs, policy and partnerships. After years of clinically practicing, I’m excited to put my experience to work promoting change on a larger scale. To that note, as a dentist, I think I bring a unique perspective and have a great opportunity to forge lasting partnerships to advance the Foundation’s objectives throughout the state.

Q: What do you like to do for fun / in your free time?

 In my spare time, I enjoy traveling, photography, hiking, and exploring the outdoors. Also, my husband and I have three amazing dogs: Charlie, a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel; Chaplin, a Long-Haired Chihuahua; and Finn, a Yorkshire Terrier. They keep us pretty busy.