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ADA executive director surprised with Distinguished Service Award during SmileCon

Highest honor Association can bestow

October 11, 2021

By Kelly Ganski

Dr. Klemmedson smiles with Dr. O'Loughlin

Honored: ADA President Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D., smiles with ADA Executive Director Kathleen T. O'Loughlin, D.M.D., during the Opening General Session Oct. 11 at SmileCon. Photo by EZ Event Photography. 

Las Vegas — In a surprise announcement Oct. 11, ADA Executive Director Kathleen T. O’Loughlin, D.M.D., was honored with the Distinguished Service Award during the Opening General Session at SmileCon. 

The Distinguished Service Award is the highest honor the ADA can bestow on a member. It is typically granted to one member each year but given Dr. O’Loughlin’s impending retirement in 2021, she was added as a recipient. Rear Adm. Timothy L. Ricks, D.M.D., chief dental officer for the U.S. Public Health Service, is the other recipient. 

“I am honored to receive a 2021 ADA Distinguished Service Award — it was a wonderful surprise,” Dr. O’Loughlin said. “I am grateful to have worked with an amazing team at the ADA, and together, we have shaped our Association into one that is committed to serving our members and moving our profession forward. Indeed, dentistry is the best profession on the planet, and working at the ADA has been one of the best experiences of my career. I will miss it, and as I shared today, I am lucky to have experienced something that makes saying goodbye so hard.”

Serving as the Association’s first female executive director for 12 years, Dr. O’Loughlin will retire at the end of 2021. In May, the ADA named Raymond A. Cohlmia, D.D.S., dean of the University of Oklahoma College of Dentistry and former ADA Board of Trustees member, to take over the role Nov. 15.

“It was my honor to surprise Dr. O’Loughlin with the 2021 Distinguished Service Award during SmileCon’s opening general session," said ADA President Daniel J. Klemmedson, D.D.S., M.D. "After 12 years of leadership at the ADA and 40 years of service to dentistry, Dr. O’Loughlin is well-deserving of this distinction. On the eve of her retirement, this recognition is a small token of our appreciation.”