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ADA Board recognizes honorary members for contributions to dentistry

June 11, 2020

By Mary Beth Versaci

The American Dental Association Board of Trustees has awarded honorary membership in the Association to three people for their "outstanding contributions to the advancement of the art and science of dentistry."

In April, the Board named Tommi Cole, retired ADA senior manager of the Department of Board and House Matters; Paul Mulhausen, M.D., chief medical director at Iowa Total Care; and Gary Price, retired president and CEO of the Dental Trade Alliance, as honorary ADA members.

Photo of Tommi Cole
Ms. Cole
Tommi Cole

Ms. Cole retired May 22 after nearly 44 years at the ADA. The Board surprised her with honorary membership in advance of her retirement to recognize her many years of service to the organization.

"It means to me that in at least some small way, I made a contribution to the profession," she said.

When Ms. Cole learned she was being awarded honorary membership, she was "humbled and extremely, extremely, extremely honored," she said.

"Tommi served the ADA leadership for over 30 years in a manner that was full of joy and respect," ADA Executive Director Kathleen T. O'Loughlin said. "Her engaging smile, her dedication to family and friends, her devotion to her co-workers has left a lasting legacy in the administrative services area. We miss her laugh, her compassion and her honesty."

Ms. Cole joined the ADA in September 1976 in the Division of Education, where she held positions in several areas, including the Dental Admission Testing Program, the Council Hospital and Institutional Dental Services, and the Council on Dental Education. She also served as the assistant to three assistant executive directors of the division, and in 1998, she began working for the ADA's executive offices.

In 2003, Ms. Cole became the manager of Board and House Matters and was promoted to senior manager in 2012. Her responsibilities included overseeing activities of the Board and House of Delegates, specifically managing all resolutions submitted for consideration by those bodies and serving as the primary resource for reference committee personnel.

"It is hard to think of the ADA without Tommi," said Jerry Bowman, ADA chief of governance and strategy management. "Her humor, patience and willingness to do anything necessary endeared her to all, from ADA presidents to all of her co-workers." 

Ms. Cole said her favorite part of her job was getting to work with trustees throughout their tenures.

"Just having them come in as new trustees, working with them and getting to know them, that was the best part for me," she said.

Photo of Paul Mulhausen
Dr. Mulhausen
Paul Mulhausen, M.D.

As a geriatrician, Dr. Mulhausen is a member of the ADA’s National Elder Care Advisory Committee and Elder Care Work Group.

"Working with the American Dental Association has been one of the most gratifying experiences of my professional life," Dr. Mulhausen said. "It is an honor to collaborate across professions with colleagues in care who are so dedicated to the well-being of their patients and the health of their communities. Being formally welcomed into the fold makes my experience even sweeter."

He was nominated for honorary membership by Dr. Cesar R. Sabates, ADA 17th District trustee, who has worked with Dr. Mulhausen for nearly 10 years. Dr. Sabates said the physician brings a valuable perspective to the table on how oral health is essential to overall health.

"Dr. Mulhausen represents the spirit of interdisciplinary approach to health care," Dr. Sabates said in his nominating letter. "He is a champion for the integration of oral health in overall health and is a consummate professional."

Having worked side by side with ADA experts in special care dentistry, geriatric dentistry, general dentistry, hospital dentistry and organizational leadership, Dr. Mulhausen said he deeply respects their dedication to a shared vision for better health. 

"I am overjoyed to learn that the respect has been mutual," he said.

Dr. Mulhausen is not new to interprofessional collaboration. During his cross-disciplinary geriatric fellowship at Duke University, he worked with a dental fellowship director who made an impression on him as an advocate for oral health and mentor in interprofessional approaches to care, he said.

Now, in his work at Iowa Total Care, which partners with the Iowa Medicaid Enterprise to help improve health outcomes and the value of care, Dr. Mulhausen continues to work to better the health care experiences of seniors.
 
"I am exceedingly proud of my professional identity as a geriatrician and my formal training experience in geriatrics," he said. "My current work to make the safety net work well for the vulnerable and the elderly, especially in Iowa, has been one of my three primary career goals: try to understand, try to help others and try to make things better."

Photo of Gary Price
Mr. Price
Gary Price

Mr. Price retired in January after 19 years with the Dental Trade Alliance, an association of companies that provide dental equipment, supplies and services to dentists and other oral health care professionals.

"I have benefited from dozens of friendships in the dental community over two decades," he said. "These personal and professional relationships became an important part of my daily life. Working with dentists across the country to improve oral health has been incredibly rewarding. Those who know me well know that I like to run under the radar. To receive this recognition from my friends at the ADA is something I never expected and is very special."

Dr. O'Loughlin nominated him for honorary ADA membership and said in her letter that he enhanced the dental profession's "relationship with the dental industry by maintaining a collaborative spirit and open communications throughout his tenure."

Mr. Price has been involved with the ADA Foundation Give Kids A Smile program and the Dental Education: Our Legacy — Our Future campaign and was a founding member of The Journal of the American Dental Association’s Industry Advisory Board.

Under his leadership, the Dental Trade Alliance and Dental Trade Alliance Foundation joined with the ADA and other organizations to form a coalition that partnered with the Ad Council on the 2min2x public awareness campaign, which Dr. O'Loughlin called one of his "most outstanding achievements."

"The thing of which I am the proudest is the collaborative work with the broader dental community to improve oral health literacy," Mr. Price said. "Our work with the Ad Council to change oral health for children was special to me and impactful to people around the world."

The oral health campaign encouraged parents to have their children brush their teeth twice a day for two minutes.

"Over three years, this public awareness campaign measurably raised the health literacy of parents and children regarding the importance of brushing twice a day especially among high risk children," Dr. O'Loughlin said. "His passion for oral health equity, for [giving] back to his community, and for his ability to connect industry to the profession for the betterment of society is remarkable."