Disparities Leadership Program Alumni Spotlight: Tequila Terry, MBA

Vice President/Executive Director
DentaQuest Institute

Westborough, MA

Class of 2016-2017

Why are you passionate about this type of work?

To start, I’ve seen firsthand how healthcare disparities have affected people in my community and even in my own family. I grew up in an area where factors like race, ethnicity, insurance status, and what part of town you live in, often determined the type and quality of care a person received. This variation made the difference between a healthy life and a life of sickness and/or death. Today, as I think of my young daughter, I am grateful that she is healthy. One day though, she may need our healthcare system for something more significant than check-ups. Part of my motivation is to improve the system for her sake. Additionally, this work aligns with my belief that we should have a system of care and coverage that works for all.

What was your “aha” moment while working on equity-related efforts at your organization?

My “aha” moment was when I realized that before I could get buy-in on a strategic plan to address disparities, I needed to take a step back and first get more widespread internal awareness about this subject. While everyone agreed that equity was important, there wasn’t consensus that it should be a priority. An important part of our plan had to include a formal “awareness campaign” in order to set the stage for the work we wanted to do.

What part of the Disparities Leadership Program has been the most useful in moving your work forward?

The DLP was an effective program to help get our team thinking about making internal connections in order to broaden our coalition. The Kotter Model of Change in particular was a great framework to use for this purpose.

What is one piece of advice you would give anyone working on disparities/equity related efforts?

There are likely many competing priorities in every organization. When trying to increase support for equity-related efforts, be sure to use data and link your findings to business imperatives (e.g., vision, mission, financial goals, etc.) in order to strengthen the case for prioritization.