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Dr. Jeanne Sinkford bypassed not only the barrier of race but also her gender in becoming the first woman to be named a dean of a U.S. dental school. Dr. Sinkford was named the dean of Howard University’s dental school in 1975 and is a living legend in the world of dentistry.

Born in 1933 and raised in Washington, D.C., Sinkford’s family pushed values and excellence by way of education as she and her three siblings all attended institutes of higher learning. Entering Howard University at the age of 16, Sinkford initially studied chemist and psychology ahead of attending dental school. After working at the university’s dental school, she traveled to Chicago with her husband, cardiologist Dr. Stanley Sinkford and attended Northwestern University.

Sinkford obtained her Ph. D in physiology while in Illinois ahead of returning to the Washington area. She worked as dean of Howard’s dental school until 1991 and managed to balance her career in education and family wife with the same ease as she did with her career climb.

With a commitment to serving the types of communities she was raised in, Sinkford recruited minorities and women students to dental school as the Director of the Center for Equity and Diversity at the American Dental Education. Last year, she was given the Distinguished Service Award from the American Dental Association, which adds to a staggering list of accolades and honorary degrees from institutions nationwide.

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