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Our Team

T.J. Clarke II, MBA

Executive Director

T.J. has over twenty years of experience as a public servant and nonprofit leader and has distinguished himself as a nationally recognized leader with a strong background in public health, legislative advocacy, public policy, community engagement, and government relations.


Most recently, T.J. served as Executive Director for the CT Rural Water and Wastewater Association and previously served as a Director of Legislative and Community Engagement at Charter Oak Health Center and Special Initiatives Coordinator for U.S. Senator Chris S. Murphy. He was instrumental in directing vaccination clinics to help those most in need throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. T.J. is the current Majority Leader of the Hartford City Council and has served on the council since 2015. He also earned a Master's Degree in Business Administration.

T.J. believes in the power of creating healthy communities that improve the quality of life for all. His innovative and collaborative approach centers on building meaningful and strategic multi-sector partnerships to address the inequities that impact underserved communities and produce tangible results to advance health equity.

You can reach T.J. at or 860-246-2644.

Gary Turco, MS

Community Engagement Specialist

Gary brings a wealth of experience to the Connecticut Oral Health Initiative (COHI). He has worked tirelessly to improve policies and services for those who need them most, either by helping create grassroots movements or supporting organizations providing direct services.

Gary currently serves as a State Representative in the Connecticut General Assembly, to which he was elected in 2018. His primary focus has been on lowering the cost of living for Connecticut's families, expanding access to vital human services, and creating new and more equitable opportunities for prosperity. He is also an adjunct professor in communication and political science. 

Previously, Gary worked as a legislative and policy aide in the Office of the Speaker of the House in the Connecticut General Assembly. He helped staff several committees, including Human Services and Children. He also worked in strategic communications with non-profit clients that focused on improving the health of children and adults and volunteered as an early childhood education teacher in Uganda, Africa.

Gary strongly believes that every resident of Connecticut deserves equal access to quality and affordable oral health care services. By building a coalition of community voices, he feels we can achieve this goal together.


Gary received a bachelor's degree in political science from Sacred Heart University and a master's degree in communication from Central Connecticut State University.


You can reach Gary at or 860-246-2644 

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