The ADA Foundation named the three inaugural recipients of its Dr David Whiston Leadership Awards, which recognize promising dentists who have shown the potential for leadership in efforts to improve the oral health of the public. The recipients are Evelyn Lucas-Perry, DDS, MPH; Nipa Thakkar, DMD; and Heather A. Willis, DDS.

Lucas-Perry serves as director of public policy research for the American Dental Education Association (ADEA). A 2011 graduate of the University of Michigan School of Dentistry and School of Public Health, she is currently attending The George Washington University Milken Institute School of Public Health pursuing a doctorate of public health degree (2017).

Lucas-Perry served as the American Student Dental Association (ASDA) Legislative Liaison, Michigan Chapter for 2 years, and as the ASDA Delegate to the Michigan Dental Association. She was elected to the ASDA National Board, and to the ADEA Board of Directors (two terms); and also to four consecutive terms as the student representative to the National Dental Association Board of Trustees. Her other volunteer activities have included two mission trips to Jamaica, where she worked with a team to deliver oral health care to people in need; speaking to middle and high school students about careers as a health care professional; and support of Independent Youth, a nonprofit organization that promotes young people to become innovators, entrepreneurs and leaders.

Thakkar is an associate general dentist with Complete Family Dentistry in Wellsboro, Pennsylvania. She earned her DMD from Temple University Kornberg School of Dentistry in 2012. She currently serves as chair of the Pennsylvania Dental Association’s (PDA) New Dentist Committee and as President of the PDA Fourth District Dental Society. Nationally, she has served as a PDA alternate delegate to the ADA, and on the ADA New Dentist Committee, and in several leadership roles with ASDA, including District 3 Trustee.

Thakkar’s volunteer community service involvement includes the Sunday Breakfast Mission, Philadelphia, Penn; I-LEAD Charter School in Reading, Penn; and the Pennsylvania Oral Health Steering Committee, where she serves as co-chair and is involved with the planning of a new dental clinic.

Willis is a general dentist and owner of Spruce Roots Family Dentistry in Fairbanks, Alaska. She earned her DDS from the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine in 2005. She has served in several volunteer roles for the Alaska Dental Society, including President and Secretary; as president of the North Central District Dental Society (Alaska); and a delegate to the American Dental Association.

Willis was event chair of the Alaska Mission of Mercy (2015). Other volunteer roles have included membership in the State of Alaska Dental Medicaid Advisory Committee, the Fairbanks North Star Borough School Board Curriculum Advisory Committee, the Raven Landing Community Wellness Committee, and the University of Alaska Fairbanks Dental Hygiene and Assisting Advisory Committee.

The ADA Foundation created the Dr David Whiston Leadership Program in 2014 to honor Dr David Whiston, who has served the oral health profession through many important leadership roles including as ADA President (1997-1998) and president of the ADA Foundation Board of Directors (2010-2014).

The ADA Foundation provides two $5,000 awards each year—The Dr David Whiston Leadership Award and the Henry Schein Cares Dr. David Whiston Leadership Award—designed to cover the costs associated with attending a leadership training program offered by the American Management Association. This year, generous donors provided funding for a third Dr David Whiston Leadership Award.