Six women in dentistry earn Lucy Hobbs Project Awards

  • February 2, 2017
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Media Contact: Kristie Ceruti, Marketing Communications Specialist 570 – 602-7047 // For Immediate Release:

Six women in dentistry earn Lucy Hobbs Project Awards

5th annual celebration will introduce honorees in Philadelphia April 27, 28

PITTSTON, PA — January 31, 2017 — Diverse yet similar, six professionals who redefine their field and reinvigorate all those in their orbit will earn accolades this spring at a celebration inspired by the first woman to earn a degree in dentistry.


Benco Dental will host The Lucy Hobbs Project 5th Annual Celebration on April 27 and 28, 2017 at Loews Hotel, 1200 Market Street, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. During the gathering, The Project will honor six women selected as award recipients for setting new benchmarks in the dental profession. The event, sponsored by Crest + Oral-B, KaVo Kerr Group, Ivoclar Vivadent, 3M, Hu-Friedy, GLO Science, Sunstar, Medicom, and Centrix, will also include CE credits, and a keynote speaker. Visit The Lucy Hobbs Project for updated information. Register today at:

Blocks from the nation’s first hospital, medical school, and women’s medical school, in Philadelphia — the first planned city in the United States – The Lucy Hobbs Project will honor these six inspirational women:

  • Patricia L. Blanton, DDS, MS, PhD, recipient of the Industry Icon award, continually drives change with the optimism vital to leadership roles. Beginning with her first faculty appointment in 1967, Dr. Blanton embraced her talents as a groundbreaker and stays true to that course as Professor Emeritus in the Department of Biomedical Sciences, BCD/TAMUS; Interim Dean, James B. Edwards College of Dental Medicine, Medical University of South Carolina; Clinical Professor of Stomatology, Medical University of South Carolina, and owner of a private practice in periodontics and implantology in Charleston. The first female President of the Texas Dental Association, she recently served as Vice-President of the American Dental Association and President of the American College of Dentists. Dr. Blanton most recently received the highest honor given from the ACD, the William John Gies Award.
  • Winifred J. Booker, DDS, recipient of the Humanitarian award, is the owner of busy pediatric dental practice in Owings Mills, Maryland. In 1996 Dr. Booker established The Children’s Oral Health Institute, where she serves as the CEO and Director of Development. Her work with the nonprofit has focused on advancing two paramount efforts: (1) oral health education programs, including Lessons in a Lunch Box: Healthy Teeth Essentials & Facts About Snacks™. This initiative is on track to reach all 50 states and 50,000 elementary school children in 2017, and (2) preserving the state law she was instrumental in helping to get passed in 2012 that requires oral health education to be taught as part of the curriculum in all Maryland public schools from grades K to 12. Inventor of the Brushtime™ Bunny and the Dental Care in a Carrot™ case, Dr. Booker also dedicates her talents as a mentor, media spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, consultant, and contributing writer for national publications.


  • Margaret Fickess, RDA, CDA, MEd, recipient of the Innovator award, empowers dental assistant students with confidence and career independence as Program Director for Dental Assisting at San Diego Mesa College. There she began her own personal professional journey in 1968, and in 2009 designed an 11- chair dental clinic for the Allied Health Building. Fickess has served in nearly every capacity with local (San Diego County Dental Assistants Society) and state (California Dental Assistants Association) branches of organized dentistry for nearly 50 years. Her efforts to improve lives include active volunteerism through CDA Cares and Children’s Dental Health Clinic, along with dental education of the underserved at schools, daycare centers and the Braille Institute for the Blind.


  • Emily Ishkanian, DMD, recipient of the Mentor award, channels the drive that in 2011 led her to establish the Southern Nevada New Dentists committee of the American Dental Association into ongoing efforts to help all dentists succeed. In her current post as chair with the ADA’s New Dentist Committee, this University of Nevada Las Vegas School of Dental Medicine Alumni of the Year finds herself deeply embedded in national, state and local work to assist dentists in their transition from school to practice. A member of the Pierre Fauchard Academy, Dr. Ishkanian provides oral health care to patients in Henderson, Nevada while dedicating time outside the operatory to create a path for others’ professional growth.
  • Irene Marron-Tarrazzi, DMD, MS, recipient of the Woman to Watch award, defies odds at age 42 by becoming the youngest elected Vice President of the American Dental Association. A periodontist in private practice in Miami, she had been serving on the ADA New Dentist Committee while holding positions at the state and local levels. Dr. Marron-Tarrazzi initially received her DMD from Universidad Central de Venezuela in Caracas. Later, she received a master’s in science and a certificate in periodontology from the University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill. In 2003, she earned a DMD from Nova Southeastern University in Florida. She draws on her own story – one that encompasses success across two distinct cultures and languages — to inspire young women looking to pursue a career in dentistry and to encourage them to run for leadership roles at the national level.
  • Andrea Joy Smith, DDS, recipient of the Clinical Expertise award, creates solutions to her patients’ needs by seeking advanced education and training. Drawn to dentistry as a volunteer for the University of Southern California Mobile Dental Clinic, she earned her dental degree at the University of California San Francisco and has since committed 22 years to her patients’ oral health through Community Health Care and private practice. A published Diplomat in the International Academy of Mini Dental Implants, she has worked diligently since 2007 to embrace the technology to provide a less costly and less invasive alternative to medically compromised patients unable to receive conventional dental implants. In 2011, she established the Smile Again Now Foundation (SANF), which she presently leads in its efforts to extend access to dental care to members of the Sacramento community in need.

Powered by Benco Dental, The Lucy Hobbs Project with a network of more than 9,000 members, empowers women in dentistry to drive change and deliver success through networking, innovation and giving back. Named for Dr. Hobbs, the woman who, in 1866, became the first American female to earn a degree in dentistry, this project aims to bring women together from all facets of the dental industry – dentists, dental assistants, hygienists, receptionists, sales representatives and others. Free to join, it offers networking opportunities, educational programs and charitable events.

To learn more about previous winners of The Lucy Hobbs Project® Award, or to sign up for The Lucy Hobbs Project®, visit:


1. LucyHobbsProject_4th_celebration1.jpg: The Lucy Hobbs Project, sponsored by Benco Dental, annually hosts a Celebration honoring exemplary women in the dental community. Named for Dr. Lucy Hobbs, who, in 1866, became the first American female to earn a degree in dentistry, awards are presented to honorees who embody the project goals. Last year’s event was hosted in Dallas, Texas with Dr. Pamela Schmidt, (shown) receiving the Project’s 2016 Innovator Award. The 5th annual event will take place April 27, 28 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.

2. LucyHobbsProject Award 2017 Honorees: Dr_Blanton.jpg, Dr_Booker.jpg, Fickess.jpg, Dr_Ishkanian.jpg, Dr_Marron-Tarrazzi.jpg, Dr_Joy Smith.jpg

About Benco Dental

Benco Dental, headquartered in Northeastern Pennsylvania, is the largest privately-owned dental distributor in the United States, offering a full array of supplies, equipment and services to dentists across the nation. Founded in 1930 by Benjamin Cohen, the company has remained family-owned and focused on its unique mission to “deliver success, smile after smile.”

Within the past 86 years, the company has grown from a single downtown location to a national network of more than 65 regional locations, five distribution centers, and three design showrooms. Those design showrooms, one at the company’s Pa. headquarters, one in Southern California, and one in Texas, feature North America’s largest selection of dental equipment and technology, as well as a hands-on dental design experience, to assist dentists in the planning and construction of a new office.

Benco, which has been named one of the top 20 Great Places to Work® in Health Care in 2016, and Pennsylvania’s Best Places to Work® for 12 of the past 14 years, is proud to feature a highly skilled team of more than 400 professionally trained sales representatives and over 300 factory-trained service technicians. For more information, visit or call 1.800.GO.BENCO.

About Lucy Hobbs

At age 26, Lucy Hobbs decided she wanted a career change. She had been teaching for ten years and felt a strong desire to pursue her true passion – dentistry. Sounds reasonable, right? However, this was 1859 and female dentists simply didn’t exist. Hobbs was promptly refused admission to dental school because of her gender. Undeterred, she convinced a professor from the Ohio College of Dental Surgery to accept her into their program. In three short years, Dr. Hobbs opened her own practice, was professionally recognized and allowed to join the Iowa State Dental Society. Dr. Hobbs was a true trailblazer who paved the way for other women’s success. To learn more and sign up, visit The Lucy Hobbs Project website at:

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