Oral Health Advocacy Skill Development

Legislative Priorities


Presented by Gary Harbison & Ashley Herrman

Course Description: Have you ever wanted to talk with your elected officials but didn’t know where to start? Do you know how to structure a meeting with a Legislator? All of these things questions and more will be answered during this session as we dive into the basics of advocacy and MCOH’s policy agenda. Through interactive skill development, participants will have the opportunity to role play a legislative meeting and practice advocating for oral health before being given a call to action for the months ahead.

Objectives: At the end of this presentation, participants will be able to:

  • Identify at least three MCOH policy priorities.
  • Employ advocacy techniques in speaking with elected officials.
  • Conduct effective legislative meetings.

Gary Harbison has served as the Executive Director of the Missouri Coalition for Oral Health since late December in 2011, the year the agency reorganized. Since then he has provided leadership through several significant changes in Missouri oral health, including the reinstatement of adult dental benefits in Medicaid, the establishment of the Oral Health Caucus in the Missouri legislature and the filling of the MO State Dental Director position after nearly 12 years without oral health leadership in the state system. Mr. Harbison has developed MCOH into a focused and strategic statewide network of advocates dedicated to health equity and access to care. He was awarded Oral Health Champion by the Missouri Dental Hygienists’ Association in 2018. MCOH was awarded Health Advocacy Organization of the Year in 2016. Prior to his work with MCOH, Mr. Harbison has worked in a variety of leadership positions, including the Kansas Mental Health Director, the Maternal & Child Health Title V Director of Special Health Care Needs at the Missouri Department of Health & Senior Services and as the Director of Outcomes Evaluation at the Missouri Department of Mental Health. Mr. Harbison worked in community mental health, psychiatric rehabilitation and hospital-based psychiatric services. Mr. Harbison worked as an individual, marital and family psychotherapist and has worked in community service and in service to people with complex health challenges for most of his career. Mr. Harbison serves on the Board of the American Network of Oral Health Coalitions and is a fellow of the American College of Mental Health Administration. He has a Master of Arts Degree in Psychological Counseling and a Bachelor of Science Degree in Psychology, both from Southeast Missouri State University.

This speaker has declared no commercial conflict of interest relative to this presentation

Ashley Herrman, MPH, starts with the Coalition on August 20, 2018.  She will be working in a position that is new to the Coalition, the Community Outreach and Project Development Director, which has lead responsibility for broadening the Coalition statewide network.  Ashley has a wealth of knowledge and experience.  She has a background in public health with a Masters of Public Health from the University of Missouri Columbia and a Bachelor's of Science in Health Science from Truman State University.  Ashley has worked in local public health agencies as well as in non-profit organizations.  She has extensive experience in tobacco control and prevention, as well as other healthy living initiatives such as access to healthy food and increasing community health through physical activity.  Ashley is an advocate for oral health and community relationship building to advance public health policies both locally and at a state level.

This speaker has declared no commercial conflict of interest relative to this presentation