The road Dr. Chad Gehani traveled to become president of the American Dental Association is a long one.
It began in India with a dream to become an American.
“I landed up in Queens with $7 in pocket only 42 years ago,” said Dr. Chad Gehani, President, American Dental Association.
Although he had a dental degree from India, he was not certified to practice here.
So he took a job sweeping floors in Manhattan, for $3.50 an hour, before working as a dental hygienist while studying for the dental boards.
“Within a year, I got my dental license and that was not good enough for me. I came to United States for education,” said Gehani.
Gehani and his dentist wife Rehka enrolled in a program at Columbia University's College of Dental Medicine, he focused on endodontics, a specialty allowing him to perform root canals, and she is an orthodontist. They opened a practice in Jackson Heights in 1981, joining the growing community of immigrants in Queens.
“Diversity is our biggest strength, it not a weakness. But when you combine diversity with inclusion, magic happens,” said Gehani.
In 1987 he became the attending dentist and chairman of endodontics at Flushing Hospital where he finds satisfaction teaching and mentoring young dentists.
“My religious place is teaching at the hospital,” said Gehani.
This month, the dentist climbed the ladder again becoming the first naturalized American elected to lead the 160 year old American Dental Association, a professional organization representing 164,000 dentists across the country.
“I am so proud to be the president of such a prestigious association, which is globally known for its science, its education and of course patient safety,” said Gehani.
The Gehanis have three children who followed their parents into the family business, becoming dentists themselves.
“You can dream in America and you can make it happen, with some hard work and if you’re determined to do it, only in America you can do that,” added Gehani.