— Two state dental association officials and a trailblazer for the FDI World Dental Federation will receive honorary memberships in the ADA by the Board of Trustees.
Larry Carl, Dr. Tin Chun Wong and Patrick Finnerty will be recognized for their outstanding contributions to the advancement of the art and science of dentistry.
Mr. Carl will retire as executive director of the Iowa Dental Association after 15 years at the end of July, but he won't be leaving organized dentistry.
"Being an honorary member provides a continuing connection with an organization that I've held with high esteem," Mr. Carl said. "It is a significant honor from an organization that I've valued."
Before assuming leadership of the Iowa Dental Association, Mr. Carl earned a bachelor's degree in business management and marketing from Creighton University and, among other jobs, was executive director and CEO of the Iowa Chiropractic Society.
It was at the Iowa Dental Association where he made his mark, both leading the IDA through a case that went all the way to the state Supreme Court, and helping create Iowa's Missions of Mercy. Both were cited by Mr. Carl as highlights of his time with the IDA.
In the Supreme Court case, IDA leadership opposed the insurance industry setting maximum fees on all noncovered services. The IDA helped develop a bill with the legislature that advocated for dentists that was then supported by unanimous vote in the Iowa Supreme Court in 2013.
The Iowa Supreme Court reversed a previous decision by a district court that sided with the insurance industry's interpretation of a noncovered services law passed in 2010. Noncovered services laws prevent insurance companies from controlling what a dentist may charge for services dental benefit plans don't cover.
As for the Missions of Mercy, Mr. Carl said he was devoted to sustaining them for over a decade. "Oral health care cannot be overvalued, and providing that care to the people who are least able to access the care is most satisfying for both the member dentist and the patient," he said. The Iowa MOM is celebrating its 10th anniversary in Cedar Rapids with a MOM event this fall.
Dr. Richard K. Bokemper, IDA president, nominated Mr. Carl for honorary membership in the ADA. "Mr. Carl has served the Iowa Dental Association with distinction and has been a passionate advocate for our profession," Dr. Bokemper said. "Mr. Carl has kept Iowa in the forefront of membership in the ADA. We now also have an active new dentists' committee to continue to keep Iowa's high rating for the foreseeable future."
Dr. Ryan Stuntz, IDA vice president, cited Mr. Carl's enthusiasm for contributing to the state association's success. "Larry has shown dedication, hard work and loyalty beyond what anyone could have asked of him for the past 15 years," he said. "It was never too late to get ahold of Larry, and we constantly received communication in the early hours of the morning as Larry put in extra time to advance the Iowa Dental Association."
Tin Chun Wong
Dr. Wong, based in Hong Kong, served as president of the FDI World Dental Federation from 2013-15 and said she was grateful to receive recognition from the ADA.
"I was very surprised, felt honored and humbled, then delighted," she said. "Being an honorary member means that the ADA has bestowed on me their appreciation for the work that I have done and that the members of the ADA wish to acknowledge their appreciation by making it known in their invitation to me to join them as one of their own, part of their own family. I am not a U.S. citizen nor do I live in the U.S. — therefore this gesture is particularly meaningful to me."
Dr. Carol Gomez Summerhays, immediate past president of the ADA, nominated Dr. Wong for, among other things, being the second female dentist to serve as FDI president since it was founded in Paris in 1900. "When Dr. Wong first became interested in becoming a dentist in Hong Kong in the 1960s, there were few female role models. After earning her dental degree at the University College Hospital Dental School in London, England, she went on to specialize in orthodontics. She broke through the glass ceiling in her country as the first female president of the Hong Kong Dental Association."
Dr. Wong recalled the challenges she encountered as a woman who wanted to be a dentist. "Sixty years ago, there had only been the odd one or two," she said. "In those times, women dentists were very rare, even on global terms, except in a very few countries. The women dentists then were educated abroad because there was no dental school in Hong Kong. In the 1960s, women became more aware that they could have a career and some sought to study dentistry by going abroad. Our dental school was built in 1980 and then there was an exponential growth in women dental students, then dentists."
Dr. Maxine Feinberg, ADA president from 2014-15, said Dr. Wong's service in the FDI made her extraordinary. "T.C. Wong has been a champion for improved global oral health and has worked tirelessly for decades on behalf of those who are in need of dental care," she said. "Her energy and stamina are legendary; she traversed the globe while president of the FDI in an effort to raise awareness on the importance of oral health and the connection between oral and systemic health. Dr. Wong has been a good friend of the ADA and we can be proud to include her among our ranks as an honorary member of our association."
"FDI is always very appreciative of the enormous support given by the ADA over all these years," Dr. Wong said. "This does not only mean your wonderful reception at all FDI congresses; the ADA has always sent its best and brightest members to FDI's committees and council, delivering their contribution in a most respected manner. Many of FDI's actions in the headquarters and in projects around the world often owe the advice or suggestions from your participation in decision-making."
Nominated by Dr. Kirk M. Norbo, ADA 16th district trustee, Mr. Finnerty is the president of the Virginia Dental Association Foundation and has been intimately involved with dentistry for decades.
"I was humbled and honored to be recognized by the ADA with this honorary membership," Mr. Finnerty said. "I have spent a good deal of my professional career working to improve the oral health of various groups and populations, and so receiving this honor is very special to me. Being an honorary member means that one of the premier dental/oral health organizations in the world believes I have made at least some meaningful contribution to improving oral health — and that means a great deal to me.
Now proprietor of his own health care consulting company, PWF Consulting, Mr. Finnerty was CEO of Virginia's Medicaid program from 2002-10 and before that served in numerous roles in the state's departments and commissions specializing in health policy issues that included Medicaid, the Children's Health Insurance Program, health insurance, managed care and health care regulation.
"I began working on oral health issues in 2000 when I was the executive director of the Virginia General Assembly's Joint Commission on Health Care," Mr. Finnerty said. "Following my work in the legislature, I served as Virginia's Medicaid director for eight years. While in that position, our agency worked closely with the Virginia Dental Association, the Old Dominion Dental Society and various advocacy groups to make significant improvements in the Medicaid dental program for children."
Dr. Terry D. Dickinson, Virginia Dental Association executive director, said Mr. Finnerty was a person who always looked out for dentists in his years of service to the state. "I can't imagine having a better, more qualified, more committed and better representative of the best of our profession and Association than Pat Finnerty," Dr. Dickinson said. "What else can I say about a person that gives so much of himself to a cause that we, as members of the ADA, hold so dear to our hearts and minds?"
For more than a decade, Mr. Finnerty has dedicated himself to strengthening the commonwealth's commitment to Missions of Mercy, said Dr. Ralph L. Howell, Jr., a Virginia dentist who knows Mr. Finnerty well. "Pat has distinguished himself as a humanitarian working with the Virginia Dental Association Foundation's Mission of Mercy events," Dr. Howell said. "Over the years, since the very beginning of the MOM projects, Pat has volunteered his time and resources assisting to provide dental services to the underserved population of Virginia. Pat has even traveled to other states to assist them in starting MOM projects of their own."
Mr. Finnerty said his decision to support MOM was easy. "There are many reasons why MOM has had such an impact on me," he said. "It may sound a bit odd, but one of the first things that comes to mind is its simplicity. MOM is simply people helping others in need. That's it. There's no expectation of receiving anything in return, no payment, no barter, no quid pro quo. MOM is volunteers caring for others and wanting to make someone's life better. It's that simple. Martin Luther King, Jr. once said, 'Life's most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?' MOM is a significant part of my answer to that question."
Registration for ADA 2017 is open. To learn more about the ADA annual meeting, which runs Oct. 19-23 in Atlanta, or to register, visit ADA.org/meeting