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Laurel Osborn's volunteer efforts support dental access and advocacy

New AADA president to take office Oct. 10

September 15, 2014

By Stacie Crozier

Volunteering abroad: Mrs. Osborn, in front at left, travels by truck with her husband, Dr. John Osborn, in front at center, and other volunteers before hiking to Medor, Haiti, for a charitable dental clinic.
Volunteering abroad: Mrs. Osborn, in front at left, travels by truck with her husband, Dr. John Osborn, in front at center, and other volunteers before hiking to Medor, Haiti, for a charitable dental clinic.
Knoxville, Tenn. —
Whether assisting a volunteer team providing dental care to homeless residents in her hometown or helping with logistics and public relations for Remote Area Medical Clinics throughout the U.S. and abroad, Laurel Osborn is a hands-on volunteer and advocate for her husband, her community and people in need worldwide.

Mrs. Osborn brings a wealth of boots on the ground experience, advocacy and nonprofit organization leadership to the Alliance of the American Dental Association as its incoming president. She will be installed Oct. 10 in San Antonio at the AADA Convention at the Hilton Palacio Del Rio hotel.

A retired critical care nurse turned stay-at-home mom, Mrs. Osborn and her husband Dr. John Osborn have been dedicated RAM volunteers for two decades, not only in Tennessee, but in other states and even outside the U.S. Dr. Osborn has served as RAM's dental director for 15 years. The couple volunteer at between six and 10 charitable dental care clinics every year.

Mrs. Osborn has not only volunteered with helping patients but also in raising awareness about the organization's work with state and national policymakers. Tennessee was the first U.S. state to pass legislation, dubbed the "Stan Brock Law," in honor of the founder of Remote Area Medical, allowing medical and dental professionals licensed in other states to provide volunteer care at Tennessee charitable medical and dental clinics. Currently a dozen U.S. states have such laws. She also helps organize clinics in other states.

"Access to care initiatives like RAM and Mission of Mercy clinics have always been a major focus for me," said Mrs. Osborn. "I find it rewarding to help fill the gap for people in need of dental services."

In the past 25 years, Mrs. Osborn has served the Alliance at all three levels: president, vice president and treasurer of the Alliance of the Second District Dental Society; president, vice president, treasurer, legislative representative and convention co-chair of the Alliance of the Tennessee Dental Association; and membership council chair, board member and president-elect of the Alliance of the ADA.

She said the Alliance, like other volunteer organizations, has been working to focus on what its value is to the dental community of today.

"Everyone is busy. Frequently both spouses work and time that our volunteers spend needs to be rewarding and produce a feeling that we are making a change in the world," she said. "The purpose and mission of the AADA is to support and promote the profession of dentistry. There is a lot we can do. We strive to mirror the priorities of the ADA by focusing on their initiatives. In the last year we launched, "Healthy Smiles from the Start" in partnership with the ADA, Henry Schein and Colgate, a program that addresses pre- and postnatal oral health, and it has been a huge success. The AADA has launched a volunteer page on its website, allianceada.org, to keep our members informed of upcoming volunteer opportunities particularly related to access to care. We actively participate in legislative advocacy on the state and national level, attend meetings so we are educated on the issues and participate in visits to our congressmen and senators. We can leverage the strength of the ADA by utilizing the voice of the AADA membership."

During her term as president, Mrs. Osborn said she hopes to foster a positive relationship with the ADA, ASDA and state dental associations and encourage members to bring enthusiasm, inspiration and focus to the Alliance as they move forward in these changing times. Other priorities for the Alliance include promoting tripartite membership, identifying and providing for the needs of the local and state organizations and increasing use of technology and social media to reach out to AADA members and partner organizations.

Mrs. Osborn and her husband have three sons. John II is recently married, Andrew just started his first year of dental school and Thomas is a musician. The family enjoys outdoor activities including motorcycling, four wheeling, mountain and street biking, hiking, boating, flying and camping. Mrs. Osborn also tries to squeeze in time in her busy schedule for horseback riding, jazzercise, gardening, cooking and singing. In addition to focusing on access to care issues, Mrs. Osborn has served on several Knoxville-area nonprofit organization boards.

For more information on the activities of Alliance of the ADA or to join, visit allianceada.org, the Facebook page at facebook.com/AllianceADA, follow on Twitter @AllianceADA or call the ADA toll free number, ext. 2865.