This week, Marco DamianiCEO of AHRC New York City, was honored with the David B. Kriser Medal from NYU’s College of Dentistry at its 2019 commencement ceremony. The Kriser Medal is the highest form of recognition the college can bestow upon someone. Marco was awarded the medal for “his extraordinary wisdom, counsel, and guidance throughout every phase of the planning and design of the NYU Dentistry Oral Health Center for People with Disabilities.

It is truly a remarkable day when you receive an award for just doing your job!” Marco said in his remarks at the ceremony. “When I first had the great fortune to meet with the leadership at the NYU College of Dentistry I quickly saw and felt the passion, professionalism, commitment, and vision for not just providing a world-class dental education, but also for playing a part in creating a better world – in particular a better world for people who are perceived by society as ‘different.’

Marco Damiani gives remarks after he received the Kriser Medal from the

Marco Damiani gives remarks after he received the Kriser Medal from the NYU College of Dentistry

The oral health center has a number of innovations that set it apart as a safe establishment for people with disabilities. It is equipped with two sedation suites staffed by experienced anesthesiologists, reducing the need for hospital referrals. It contains a multisensory room for those that may experience overstimulation as a result of a dentist’s visit. The center offers a full range of dental services, from basic cleanings to oral surgery to orthodontics.

In his message to graduates, Marco encouraged them to strive to meet the ideals that helped build the oral health center. “While a core commitment at NYU Dentistry is to provide the best possible dental education, there is more at work here, a second equally compelling commitment: disrupting the cycle of low expectations,” he said. “The low expectations of people with disabilities who have often come to accept or tolerate sub-optimal care when they deserve the best possible care. The low expectations of some providers and even academic institutions that are comfortable either shunning or making token efforts to serve people with disabilities, when they should instead embrace the opportunity to broaden their clinical and academic perspectives and impact on these individuals. You can make a difference in disrupting the cycle of low expectations. Do it!

Marco was recognized along with Larry McReynoldsExecutive Director of Family Health Centers at NYU Langone, who was also instrumental in founding the oral health center for people with disabilities. Marco finished his remarks by encouraging the graduates to “always do more than what is expected, especially for those not as fortunate as you. Difference is the only thing we all have in common. Difference matters. Make a difference.