Our History

New Mexico Dental Association Foundation (NMDAF) works to increase oral health literacy in New Mexico, while also providing direct access to oral health care through several of our outreach programs.

Founded in 2005, our programs have served thousands of low-income individuals and families including veterans, elderly, disabled, and medically compromised New Mexicans.  We support a dynamic volunteer hub of dentists, labs, and other oral health professionals across the state who donate their time, energy, and resources so that eligible clients can get the dental treatment they need.   

Over the last 18 years we have provided

  • $15 million in free treatment by
  • 11,000 professional and community volunteers to
  • 12,500 clients

We are committed to serving the oral health needs of all New Mexicans through education and access to dental care because we believe…

  • Smiling is central to our human experience.
  • A healthy mouth is foundational for a healthy life.
  • Oral health education improves overall health and leads to better oral health access and outcomes.

We also support upcoming dental professionals with mentoring, clinical observations, leadership training, and volunteer opportunities to help grow professional support networks, reduce the shortage of dental care providers, and increase our state’s ability to meet the treatment needs of all our residents. The collaboration between new students and experienced dentists enlivens the oral health field, strengthens the industry, and provides invaluable benefits to both providers and patients.


Why we do it

Our teeth are an integral part of our physical anatomy. Healthy teeth are vital for maintaining a sound facial structure, a nourishing diet, verbal communication skills, and for maintaining the significant social and emotional benefits of a healthy smile. Surgeon General Jerome Adams declared that oral health is essential to general health and well-being in his 2020 report Oral Health in America: A Report of the Surgeon General

While the impact of poor oral health on our overall wellness is garnering more attention and research, the economic impacts of poor oral health are only beginning to emerge into the spotlight. Good oral health is a critical need.

Poor oral health impacts a person’s ability to secure work and hinders their upward mobility in a career.  Just over 40% of people admit that they believe a person is less educated and less capable if they have an unhealthy smile.  The NM Coalition for Literacy estimates that 46% of our state’s citizens are functionally illiterate.  Health (and oral health) literacy are higher than that.  More than half of these citizens live in poverty.

We aim to help low-income individuals and families join a network of care to increase overall access to oral healthcare and improve oral health outcomes. NMDAF works with counties and school districts to identify low-income families in need of oral health education and access to oral health care. We collaborate and coordinate with community partners who provide education. NMDAF then offers free denture clinics, cleanings, and a variety of other dental procedures in-office and clinic events for both adults and children using our network of volunteer dentists. We provide the opportunity for New Mexicans to find a dental home and build a future of health.

We want New Mexico to smile. Please join us in our efforts through volunteering or donating.

Federal Tax Form 990

Our Staff

Trish Rule, PMP
Executive Director

Trish Rule has a BBA with an emphasis in Production Operations Management and is the Executive Director.  Her unique program management skillset provides the Foundation with an excellent match for the largest charitable event in the state. In addition, Trish brings a wealth of experience in accounting, and computer technical support.

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Brenda Mendoza
DDS Referral Coordinator

Brenda Mendoza has an associate degree in Business Administration and a certificate for Community Health Care worker in the state of NM. She has always been eager to help others in her community. She loves meeting client’s needs and help them achieve their goals. As a DDS referral coordinator, she is responsible for program and case management for the Donated Dental Services program, volunteer outreach, community engagement with partners and coordination across the state.

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Tara Dearholt
Client/Volunteer Services Specialist

Tara Dearholt is the Client/Volunteer Services Specialist for the Foundation. Her duties include scheduling and communicating with clients and volunteers, organizing meetings and events, and ordering and purchasing supplies.


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Cathy Casaus
Computer Systems Specialist

Cathy Casaus has a BBA with an emphasis in Business Computer Systems. Cathy brings to the Foundation an extensive background in computer system analysis and design. She continues to identify and implement software solutions to meet the needs of the foundation including some custom software applications. In addition, she does the bookkeeping, manages our social media, manages event registration systems, and works on many other special programs to support the Foundation.


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Megan David
SalesForce Consultant

Megan David has an MA in sociology, and more than twenty years of experience in data and policy analysis and program management for non-profit and government agencies.  Megan is responsible for Sales Force which allows our organization to manage our oral health literacy and whole health literacy programs.


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Our Board of Directors

Keon Ahghar, DDS
President, Board of Directors

Dr. Keon Ahghar is passionate about providing the best dental care to families in the Roswell area. Dr. Ahghar takes pride in his ability to listen and provide comprehensive, patient-centered care. Dr. Ahghar treats each patient with the philosophy of “What would I do if this were my mother, brother, or child?” He truly takes treating patients like family to heart. He serves on the Program Advisory Council for the organization and has been the Chair of the Roswell Mission of Mercy for the last two years. Dr. Ahghar is a native New Mexican and grew up in Albuquerque.

Zachary Adkins, DDS

Dr. Adkins grew up in Albuquerque, NM, has degrees from the University of New Mexico and Creighton University in Omaha, NE where he graduated Cum Laude from the School of Dentistry in 2008. He enjoys continuing his education and he makes learning a priority. Dentistry is not just a career for Dr. Adkins, it is his passion. He feels strongly about educating his patients on proper oral health and believes wholeheartedly in giving back to his community. He understands the importance of living pain-free and enjoys watching his patients leave his office with confidence in their smile.

JenniferThompson, DDS

Dr. Jennifer L. Thompson earned a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from Duke University, and Biomedical Engineering degree, and attended the University Of North Carolina School of Dentistry, then joined her mother's practice in Farmington in 2008. She is currently serving as the New Mexico Dental Association President, has served as the San Juan County Mission of Mercy fundraising chair in September 2013, and is the Chair in 2021. She also participates in Donated Dental Services.


Fred Watson

 Retired owner/ manager at Molina/Watson Dental Technologies, Inc.  Fred started his career as a Dental laboratory technician in 1979 an has been nationally certified since 1997.
He specialized in dental implant treatment planning and restoration; fixed hybrid, over denture, single-multiple units and complex cases. He has
advanced digital knowledge/experience, and has a
Dawson-Pankey background.


Kelley Ryals, DDS
Board Member

Dr. Kelley Ryals grew up in Santa Fe, NM. She attended Santa Fe High School, graduated Cum Laude from The University of New Mexico with a Bachelor of Science, and graduated Cum Laude from Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska with a Doctor of Dental Surgery in 2011. She returned home to Santa Fe, NM in 2011 and opened Santa Fe Modern Dentistry and several other dental offices with Pacific Dental Services. Also in 2011, she joined the New Mexico National Guard as a Lieutenant Colonial where she is currently serving as the State Dental Officer.



Robert Espinoza, DDS
Board Member

Dr. Espinoza is a general dentist in Las Cruces, New Mexico at Desert Peaks.  He attending Dental School at Loma Linda University School of Dentistry. He served as class president all four years and was a part of the Dean's List for academic achievements and won several leadership awards including recognition by the California Dental Association for research and the Prince Award. He contined his studies at  the University of New Mexico in the Advanced General Dentistry program. He studied an extra year of day-to-day dental procedures in a clinic and hospital setting, as well as LV. sedation, dental implants, endodontic, fixed and removal prosthodontics, advanced pediatric cases, periodontal surgeries, impacted wisdom teeth removal, emergency dentistry and preventative dentistry. 


Julius Manz, DDS
Board Member

Dr. Julius N. Manz is currently the Director of the Dental Hygiene Program at San Juan College.  He attended the University of New Mexico obtaining his bachelor’s degree in Physics and Mathematics.  After college he spent the next 10 years as a Naval Submarine Officer and Nuclear Engineer.  After resigning his commission in the United States Navy as a Lieutenant Commander, he attended dental school at the University of Colorado.  Dr. Manz practices general dentistry in Farmington, NM is a Professor and the Director of the San Juan College Dental Hygiene Program.  He is a past president of the New Mexico Dental Association, past delegate to the American Dental Associations House of Delegates and currently serves as the NMDA Secretary/Treasurer.   He extensively writes and lectures on dental related matters.


DezBaa Damon-Mallette, DMD
Board Member

A general dentist working with the Indian Health Service, Gallup Service Unit. She is originally from Aztec, NM, and a member of the Navajo Nation.  After graduating from Aztec High School, she attended Arizona State University where she majored in Biology and minored in Anthropology.  In 2007, she graduated from Arizona School of Dentistry and Oral Health, a school of A.T. Still University, and was fortunate to be mentored by the first American Indian Dentist, Dr. George Blue Spruce.  Dr. Damon-Mallette also earned a Certificate of Public Health from the University of North Carolina while in dental school.  Her dental career started in Bethel, Alaska, which she thoroughly enjoyed since there was the opportunity to fly out to small villages to set up mobile dental equipment and provide dental services. After some time, she moved back to the Southwest and has since worked in Arizona and New Mexico, specifically Ganado, Shiprock, and Albuquerque, before making Gallup her home.  She has worked in both public health and private practice.


Jim Dearholt
Board Member

Jim Dearholt is the owner of Dearholt AutoCare in Albuquerque NM he started the business in May of 1988 and has built the company to be one of the best auto repair shops in Albuquerque. Jim has been the President of the Napa AutoCare Business Development Group Association for 29 years and grown the group from 6 members to 36 active members. Jim currently serves as an Elder at Hoffmantown Church. He is a big game hunter and also loves to camp and travel the country with his wife in their 5th wheel RV.

Kent Cravens
Board Member

Kent Cravens is currently the CEO at Greater Albuquerque Association of REALTORS (GAAR). An Albuquerque native, Kent Cravens comes with a background as an entrepreneur, association executive and an elected public official.  In his current role as CEO of GAAR Kent is visible in the Albuquerque business community as a policy advocate for Real Estate issues.

Kent's experience in business began in 1989 when Kent opened Premier Foods, Inc., an institutional food and supply wholesaler serving the food service industry in the Albuquerque, NM area. After successful completion of the sale of Premier Foods in 1999 Kent bought Alphagraphics US020, a quick print franchise, and over a period of the next fourteen years would build it to be a leader in the franchise network. Kent and his wife Melanie successfully completed the sale of their AlphaGraphics franchise in 2013.

Concurrent to running AlphaGraphics Kent was named Executive Director of the New Mexico Dental Association where he stood watch over the business affairs of the association and was instrumental in founding the New Mexico Dental Foundation, a non-profit which currently provides over $1 million a year in donated dental services to New Mexico’s underserved population. From 2000 to 2011 Kent served in the New Mexico State Senate. Kent focused on business and economic development issues while serving on numerous legislative committees to include Senate Corporations and Transportation, Senate Judiciary, Senate Education, Senate Rules and numerous other committees


New Mexico Foundation for Dental Health, Education & Research (dba. NM Dental Association Foundation)

PO Box 16854

Albuquerque, NM  87191

Office: (505) 298-7206

Fax: (505) 554-3836


All Content Copyright © 2021, New Mexico Foundation for Dental Health Research and Education, a 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation.


All donations are tax-deductible.

EIN 74-3146433

The NMDAF is the charitable arm of the NMDA