Though in 1950 she had never taught a class, except Sunday school, Massachusetts native Dr. Esther Wilkins was willing to venture to the Pacific Northwest and lead the first eight students enrolled in the dental hygiene program in Washington.
Not garden-variety courage.
It seems apt that The Lucy Hobbs Project® lauds Dr. Wilkins, 98, as one eight Exemplary Members in the Dental Community during its annual celebration, to be held June 4 and 5 in Baltimore, Maryland.
Also serendipitous that some of Dr. Wilkins’ contributions are housed at the National Museum of Dentistry, which will host the two-day event’s opening reception.
As keynote speaker for the June event, Carey Lohrenz, the first female F-14 Tomcat Fighter Pilot in the U.S. Navy, will describe her journey of fearless leadership as a pioneer in military aviation. Her story serves as another contemporary parallel to Lucy Hobbs, who, in 1866, became the first American female to earn a degree in dentistry. Dr. Hobbs was denied access to education based on her gender, but persevered to learn dentistry through apprenticeship, and eventually graduated from the Ohio College of Dental Surgery.
Powered by Benco Dental, The Lucy Hobbs Project is a national, long-term program based on three pillars – networking, innovating and giving back. Named after Hobbs, this project aims to bring women together from all facets of the dental industry – dentists, dental assistants, hygienists, receptionists, sales representatives and others. The project is free to join and offers networking opportunities, education programs and charitable events.
Its annual celebration takes the opportunity to honor eight pioneers for change, those who in some way have helped lead the charge for women in dentistry and embody the project goals. Among this year’s Lucy Hobbs Award recipients are seven unique women and one man, whose unwavering professional dedication merits accolades:
- Luz Marina Aguirre, DMD, Assistant Professor of Dental Medicine at Columbia University College of Dental Medicine in NY, NY, leads by example as faculty advisor for the student chapter of the Hispanic Dental Association. As president of the New York chapter ofthe Association, she personally dedicates herself to the reduction of oral health disparities.
- Nathan Cox, Dixie Regional Manager for Benco Dental, says he feels honored that three Lucy Hobbs Project award recipients have hailed from his part of the world in that number of years. The six-year associate from Huntstville, Alabama appreciates Dr. Hobbs for her underdog status, “She did something no one believed she could do.”
- Lindsay D. Limbaugh, DMD, MS, a Board Certified Orthodontist, partners in a two-location practice in Huntsville, Alabama. In between implementing treatment innovations professionally, the Diplomate of the American Board of Orthodontics encourages the next generation, hosting Girl Scouts at her office — even leading a campaign to create a “Dental Awareness” badge.
- BB Maboby Bahadarakhann, who dedicates her life to providing services to those in desperate need of oral health assistance, founded SmileOnU in 2013, while working as an oral surgery representative. Born in a refugee camp in Thailand and raised in Chicago, Illinois, BB lives today in Newport Beach, California, where through her nonprofit organization she is able to rebuild smiles in the Orange, San Diego and Los Angeles counties.
- Kealy Akin, a Territory Representative from the Dixie Region in Nashville, Tennessee, says that as a working mom of two she gains inspiration daily from female customers who are running successful practices while balancing busy home lives. In just under two years with Benco Dental she has spearheadedseveral Lucy Hobbs Project initiatives in her area.
- Amanda Seay, DDS, channeled her early affinity for the arts into a focus on restorative dentistry at the private practice she owns in Mount Pleasant, South Carolina. Dr. Seay’s family emigrated from Vietnam to the U.S., where she was bornshortly afterward. The challenges that accompanied only served to ignite her thirst for education. As a clinical instructor and Key Opinion Leader for dental companies involved with the beta testing on new products and materials, she continues that quest.
- Kendra S. Schaefer, DMD, returned to her Midwest roots after graduating from, teaching at and practicing at the prestigious Ivy League University of Pennsylvania. As one of the few Maxillofacial Prosthodontists in the Midwest, she utilizes her expanded skill set to provide treatment in her private practice in Madison, Wisconsin. Schaefer continues to share her talents by giving back locally and internationally with Operation Smile, Medical Ministry International and the Academy of Prosthodontics Outreach Program for Native Americans.
- Esther Wilkins, BS, RDH, DMD, credits the fortitude her hardworking mother and mentor sister gave her to accomplish what she needed to do with her life. She devised a program of study and created mimeographed handouts that evolved into an up-to-date textbook for the profession of dental hygiene. The textbook has been used around the world and translated into several languages. Today, when not working on its 12th edition, Dr. Wilkins shares knowledge amassed throughout a legendary career with students at Tufts University School of Dental Medicine, where she graduated in 1949.
- Yet another inspirational woman in dentistry will greet participants in the form of North Carolina practitioner Dr. Desiree Walker, who originally competed in 2014 on the NBC television show American Ninja Warrior and was recently invited back for its seventh season, which was shot at Universal Studios, Orlando in May.
- Throughout the celebration, attendees will be hosted to events at the National Museum of Dentistry and Baltimore Marriott Inner Harbor at Camden Yards, including a Continuing Education opportunity, courtesy of Benco Dental and event sponsors: Kavo Kerr Group and P&G Crest + Oral B.
- Continuing Education credits will be awarded, at no cost to attendees, via a presentation “Overcoming Life’s Goliaths and the Power of Vision,” led by Motivational Speaker Dave Weber. In lieu of a fee to attend this event, attendees are asked to bring an article of in-season interview appropriate apparel to donate to the Dress for Success organization.