BOSTON– CareQuest Institute for Oral Health® — a leading national nonprofit focused on creating a more accessible, equitable, and integrated oral health system — today announced that Kaz Rafia, DDS, MBA, MPH, has been named as the organization’s first Chief Health Equity Officer.
Rafia, a former state dental director, is a leader in the oral health field who has pursued equitable clinical outcomes through innovative health care approaches throughout his career. As a member of the CareQuest Institute executive team, Rafia will leverage his expertise to spearhead strategic initiatives and partnerships that advance access to integrated, person-centered, and value-based oral health care.
“As a mission-focused organization centered on improving the oral health for all, advancing health equity is central to everything that we do at CareQuest Institute,” said Myechia Minter-Jordan, MD, MBA, president and CEO of CareQuest Institute for Oral Health. “Having a leader like Kaz join us as Chief Health Equity Officer sends a strong message: eliminating health disparities and breaking down systemic barriers to care, especially for marginalized and underserved communities, is nonnegotiable. Kaz’s experience and knowledge as a dental provider, state official, and educator is an incredible asset to our team and partners.”
Rafia will drive CareQuest Institute’s strategic efforts to advance the integration of oral health and overall health through the oversight of CareQuest Institute’s health improvement and grantmaking work.
“I’m honored to join CareQuest Institute in pursuit of an accessible, equitable, and integrated health system for everyone,” said Rafia. “The inequities in oral health outcomes for people of color, those living in rural communities, people with disabilities, people who identify as LGBTQ, and other marginalized communities in the US are unacceptable. The work that CareQuest Institute is advancing, in collaboration with an impressive group of partners at the community, state, and national levels, is critical to eliminating oral health disparities once and for all.”
Before joining CareQuest Institute, Rafia served as the state dental director for the Oregon Health Authority, where he set the equity-focused State Oral Health Strategic Plan. That Plan focused on population health measures, health care workforce development, optimization of value-based care coordination model, and telehealth.
Prior to that, Rafia was the director of operations for the Partnership for International Medical Access-Northwest, working to build sustainable long-term international partnerships with culturally diverse authorities and leaders to better understand and serve their needs.
Rafia was also a founding partner of Rafia Dental, a clinical associate professor at Oregon Health & Science University, and a clinic director at Kaiser Permanente.
Kaz earned his doctor of dental surgery degree from the Ohio State University, a master of business administration degree from University of Illinois, and a master of public health degree from Johns Hopkins University.