“Barrier breaker.”

In 2019, The Washington Post aptly described the first woman and first African American to serve as president of the American College of Dentists.

Dr. Joan Bluitt Foster, 1938 – 2019 (Photo courtesy The Island Funeral Home)

Dr. Juliann Bluitt Foster “served as a role model… but was also a pioneer” according to  Cheryl Watson-Lowry, the Chicago Dental Society’s second female African-American president.

Bluitt Foster died April 17, 2019 at her home in Hilton Head, S.C. and in her 80 years on the earth, she advanced her profession, and the role of women in organized dentistry.

Watson-Lowry describes Dr. Bluitt Foster’s mentorship qualities in an obituary published in the CDS Review:

“As the first female and African-American female president of the Chicago Dental Society, Juliann Bluitt inspired me and countless others to pursue our dreams without limitation. She not only served as a role model to so many of us but was also a pioneer in multiple arenas.” 

After earning her dental degree from Howard University in 1962, she dedicated her professional efforts as a member of the Chicago Board of Health, then later joined Northwestern University’s dental school as a dental educator and assistant dean.

Bart Barnes illustrates in his story how Dr. Bluitt Foster “encouraged and supported an increase in the number of female dental students”.

“It was expected that women would not be good in operating a dental practice because they didn’t have business experience,” she told the Chicago Tribune in 1992. “But women have been managing time, money and resources for years.”

Read more about Dr. Bluitt Foster’s early years in Washington and her legacy in dentistry: here.

Learn about her career in Chicago and achievements as the first female president of the Chicago Dental Society: here.