Chicago Dental Society’s 2019 Honorees Recognized

In recognition of their outstanding contributions to the dental profession, the Chicago Dental Society (CDS) honored three individuals for their dedication to academic and scientific excellence, volunteer services, and their efforts to promote awareness of the impact of oral health and provide access to care to underserved patients and communities. Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Professor Karen Baker, and Dr. Ilie Pavel were presented with the George H. Cushing Award, Christensen Lecturer Recognition Awards, and CDS Foundation (CDSF) Vision Award, respectively, during the opening session of CDS’s annual Midwinter Meeting at McCormick Place West.

“Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle, Prof. Karen Baker, and Dr. Ilie Pavel are true leaders in their respective fields, and we are proud to honor them with these awards for their steadfast dedication to the dental profession and their outstanding volunteerism and philanthropic commitment,” said CDS Board President Dr. Cheryl Watson-Lowry. “These advocates and educators have made significant contributions to advance dentistry and access to care overall, and perfectly embody the essence of their respective awards.”

CDSF Chair Dr. Pat Hann described the Foundation’s choice for its Vision Award, honoring outstanding volunteer achievement. “No one personifies professional integrity, passion, and commitment to helping others improve their oral and overall health as much as Dr. Ilie Pavel,” said Dr. Hann. “His deep commitment to philanthropy is evident in his work as a volunteer and inspires those around him to follow his example. He tirelessly devotes his time to countless philanthropic endeavors, providing critical care to the underserved in the Chicagoland area and abroad.”

The George H. Cushing Award honors individuals who raise public awareness about oral health issues.

Honoree: Toni Preckwinkle, President of the Cook County Board of Commissioners, has been an advocate for oral and overall health for decades. As the top executive in Cook County, President Preckwinkle oversees one of the nation’s largest public health and hospitals systems and has fought to improve health care access throughout her career. In 2011, Preckwinkle supported a public health initiative to provide funding for Dental Health Professional Shortage Areas (HPSAs), targeting gaps in care for low-income individuals in Chicago and ensuring that residents and children can have access to affordable, quality dental and healthcare services. Along with other city officials, she also co-signed a letter adopting a policy to curb the widespread misuse and abuse of prescription opioid pain relievers, consequently raising professional awareness about prescription opioid abuse and creating new resources to promote more judicious prescribing of prescription pain relievers.

“I am very proud of the work done by Cook County Health. For decades, our health system has provided quality health care with dignity and respect regardless of a patient’s ability to pay,” President Preckwinkle said. “Our mission continues, and I am grateful for the recognition by the Chicago Dental Society.”

The Gordon J. Christensen Lecturer Recognition Awards is named in honor of Dr. Christensen’s many outstanding contributions to dentistry and the Midwinter Meeting.

Honoree: Karen Baker has been on the faculty of the College of Dentistry at the University of Iowa for nearly four decades and occupies a unique dual role as a dental practitioner and educator. Prof. Baker has been director of Dental Pharmacy Services since 1991, is an associate professor in the Department of Oral Pathology, Radiology and Medicine, and is also an associate professor in the UI College of Pharmacy’s Division of Pharmacy Practice. She holds a master’s degree in clinical pharmacology and therapeutics with a focus on patient-specific dental drug therapy and has given well over 1,000 invited programs nationally and internationally. Her cutting-edge dental education-based pharmacy and drug therapy consultation center is the only one of its kind in the United States. Professor Baker has also authored more than 50 articles and abstracts and she lectures extensively in pre-doctoral and post-doctoral courses at the University of Iowa.

The CDS Foundation Vision Award honors dedicated volunteers who generously support access to care programs and dental education for the underserved in their community, and practice the dental profession with integrity, honesty, and truthfulness with commitment to protecting public trust.

Honoree: Originally from Romania, Dr. Pavel graduated from medical school in Cluj-Napoca before moving to America to further advance his education, receiving a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from Loyola University of Chicago. Dr. Pavel is a board-certified general dentist and a Fellow in the American College of Dentists, as well as a member of the American Dental Association, Illinois State Dental Society, and Chicago Dental Society. As an active member of organized dentistry, he was President of the CDS North Side Branch from 2003-2004, and more recently served as Director of the North Side Branch from 2013-2015. Dr. Pavel is a proud volunteer at the Collaborative Underserved Relief and Education Network (CURE) and Missions of Mercy (MOM) events and has served as the co-chair of the Special Olympics Special Smiles (SOSS) 50-year anniversary since 2014. Dr. Pavel also recently participated in a mission trip to Honduras, where he helped establish remote dental clinics to aid the critically underserved.

The CDS Midwinter Meeting is one of the dental industry’s premier annual events – bringing together more than 650 exhibiting companies and nearly 30,000 attendees, including more than 6,000 dentists, to create one of the largest exhibits of dental products and manufacturers in North America. The Midwinter Meeting also connects attendees with the latest thought leaders and innovators in dentistry through more than 120 continuing education courses that cover a range of topics and feature valuable hands-on workshops, lectures and live patient demonstrations.