Pediatric Dentist Selected as 2024 Distinguished Alumnus

Dr. Reneida Reyes holding a plaque, alongside Dr. Stacy Reisfeld

As Reneida Reyes, DDS ’78, MPH, took the stage at Stony Brook School of Dental Medicine’s White Coat Ceremony in April, the decorated pediatric dentist began her address with two words: Tempus fugit. In Latin: “Time flies.”

Back on the Stony Brook campus once more, Dr. Reyes has made the most of her time as a practitioner, teacher and in organized dentistry, prompting the SDM’s Alumni Chapter to name her as this year’s recipient of the Distinguished Alumnus Award.

Among her many roles in her illustrious career in dentistry, Reyes served as president of the American Dental Association (ADA) Foundation’s board of directors from 2014 to 2016, and is currently the section chief of pediatric dentistry at NewYork-Presbyterian Brooklyn Methodist Hospital, a position she held while also maintaining a private practice until 2022.

I am certainly honored to receive this award,” Reyes said. “This recognition confirms the commitment of the School of Dental Medicine to develop a cadre of dental leaders from the inception who are dedicated to the oral health wellbeing of the community. The philosophy promulgated by the founding fathers of the School of Dental Medicine was reflected by the composition of the first two classes selected, who proved to hold high ethical standards and were always willing to serve.”

With classmates Wesley Hartswell and Paulette Tempro, Reyes also holds the distinction of being the first African-American graduate in SDM history.

Dr. Reneida Reyes addresses the crowd at an on-stage podium”We were fortunate to be in a dynamic, innovative environment comprised of a faculty and administration as well as both clinical and research leaders committed to the student body,” she said. “As a class we had a very collegial relationship with each other as well as with the class ahead of us. We were very supportive of each other.”

Reyes’ journey in dentistry also includes serving as chair of the New York State Dental Association’s National Children’s Dental Health Month, having earned the American Dental Association’s Golden Apple Award in 2007 for establishing the Sugarless Wednesday Program. Reyes also chaired the ADA’s Reference Committee on Education and Related Matters, and served as a delegate and member of the Council of Memberships. She was also past president of the Second District Dental Society, whose Oral Health Committee she has chaired since 1984.

For her service to her community and the profession, Reyes has received numerous accolades, including the 2020 Second District Dental Society Distinguished Service Award; the 2021 Distinguished Service Award from The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry; the Dr. Susan Smith McKinney Award from the Brooklyn Hospital Center Black History Medical Synergy; the Foundation of Excellence in Community Service Award from the New York State Dental Foundation, the Women of Distinction Award from National Association of Health Services Executives; and Minds in Motion Award from the Science Skills Center Incorporated.

How fortunate we are to count someone as accomplished and respected as Dr. Reyes among our network of alumni,” said Patrick Lloyd, dean of the School of Dental Medicine. “She has been an inspiration and mentor to many aspiring dentists who have followed in her footsteps, and a such a valuable contributor to our profession in so many ways, here in New York State and beyond.”

Reyes began her career as a dental hygienist, having received an Associate in Applied Science degree from New York City College of Technology. Later earning a Bachelor of Arts in inner city studies from Medgar Evers College, she enrolled in the DDS program at Stony Brook. Reyes then completed her residency in pediatric dentistry at the Harvard School of Dental Medicine and the Boston Children’s Hospital and earned a Master of Public Health Degree from the Harvard School of Public Health.

In addressing the Class of 2027 at their White Coat Ceremony, she encouraged them to soak in their four years as dental students.

“I urge you all to savor every opportunity presented to you, connect with your faculty, and remember that the relationships that you establish during this phase of your development will be lifelong relationships,” Reyes said.