Oral Health Colorado Names 2016 Oral Health Champions

posted in: OHCO in the News | 0


Erich Kirshner




Oral Health Colorado Names 2016 Oral Health Champions

Christy Dodd Appointed New OHCO Executive Director at Annual Meeting


Denver–November 3, 2016–Oral Health Colorado (OHCO) named five Oral Health Champions for 2016 at its annual meeting in October. These individuals were recognized as instrumental in improving oral health in Colorado.


At the annual meeting, the OHCO Board of Directors also named Christy Dodd executive director. Dodd replaces Deborah Foote, who has left Colorado to pursue opportunities in Florida, brings a quarter century of nonprofit experience to her new role. Dodd has experience in strategic planning, coalition and partnership building, grant writing, program management, team building, finance, volunteer management, and policy development.


This year’s awardees include:


Kate Paul

Lifetime Achievement Award


Kate Paul is president and CEO of Delta Dental of Colorado, a dental benefit service corporation that serves over one million enrollees in Colorado. During her 15 year tenure at Delta Dental, Paul devoted $64 million to oral health initiatives, her drive partly shaped by her family’s financial struggles growing up. Paul has her own difficult dental history. She first went to the dentist at the age of six with an abscessed tooth, a pain she wouldn’t wish on anyone.


Barbara Springer

Lifetime Achievement Award


Barbara Springer is executive director of the Delta Dental of Colorado Foundation and also serves as Delta Dental of Colorado’s general counsel.. With a focus on eradicating cavities in Colorado’s kids, Springer’s leadership at the Foundation has resulted in countless numbers of children receiving access to quality dental care and enhanced community awareness of the importance of good oral health. Springer’s fingerprints are on many of Colorado’s top oral health initiatives, including Cavity Free at Three, the unique exhibit and partnership with the Children’s Museum of Denver, the Colorado Medical-Dental Integration Project, funding of dental clinics at the CU School of Dental Medicine and financial support for in-school oral health programs.


Kraig Burleson

Oral Health Champion


Since 2001, Kraig Burleson has served as CEO at Inner City Health, a faith-based health center in Denver. At Inner City, dentistry has always been an integral part and parcel of its holistic approach to health care and it provides a dental home for many of metro Denver’s must vulnerable residents. Uniquely, most of the medical, dental and administrative staff at the center are volunteers, including 90% of the nurses and all but one physician and one dentist. A licensed and ordained minister and pastor of Loving Saints Christian Fellowship, Rev. Burleson is the embodiment of servant leadership. Burleson has actively served as a member of OHCO’s Safety Net Committee and has provided continued counsel and support to OHCO’s efforts for many years.


Patricia Brewster-Willeke

Oral Health Champion


Patricia Brewster-Willeke is a woman who is passionate about access to oral health care. Her work began around 2002 when dental care was difficult to come by in rural Northeastern Colorado. Some families living in Yuma had to make a minimum 120-mile round trip to get care. To bring services closer to home, Brewster-Willeke  arranged for dental hygienists to provide screenings and fluoride to children without a dental home at the Rural Communities Resource Center. After a few years the program expanded to include adults. She also served as co-chair of the Northeastern Colorado Oral Health Coalition, Smiles Across the Plains for several years and was one of the original board members of Oral Health Colorado.


Durango City Council

Community Water Fluoridation Oral Health Champion Award


On June 28, 2016, the Durango City Council decided fluoride will remain in the city’s drinking water. The issue deadlocked the city’s Utilities Commission, an advisory board, but the city council decided fluoridation is in the best interest of public health. Public health arguments that fluoridated water helps protect those with limited access to dental care seemed to sway the council. “It’s a matter of social responsibility,” said Council member Dean Brookie. Council member Dick White, the liaison to the commission, who did not attend the meeting, argued in a written statement it was callous for the city to think that the families of youth not receiving dental care would buy fluoridation products. “It is preferable for more affluent families that are concerned about possible, but unproven, negative impacts to buy filters that remove fluoride,” he wrote.


About Oral Health Colorado

The mission of Oral Health Colorado (OHCO) is to develop and promote strategies that achieve optimal oral health for all Coloradans. The organization educates oral health coalitions and the public across the state about oral health issues.  OHCO is helping to increase access to comprehensive oral health care for all Coloradans and works with both the public and private dental communities to assure that providers are available.  An advocacy and public policy focused organization, OHCO also develops and supports public policy initiatives resulting in improved oral health for all Coloradans. For more information, visit http://oralhealthcolorado.org.