Annually, Benco Dental’s Lucy Hobbs Project recognizes women in dentistry for excellence in six categories. Each award winner demonstrates innumerable qualities of the project’s namesake, Dr. Lucy Hobbs Taylor, who earned her dental degree in 1866, advancing equality for her gender. She defied nearly a decade of resistance, leading with clinical proficiency and innovative thinking; then she mentored others to do the same. Benco Dental’s Lucy Hobbs Project® Awards honor women in dentistry who personify that same spirit.

“The six award recipients illustrate the extent to which one person can affect change. What better way to celebrate their contributions to the profession of dentistry than by sharing their success stories to inspire others on the same path. Through its Lucy Hobbs Project, Benco Dental recognizes the diverse perspectives that it takes to drive dentistry forward.”

Donna Shrader, Creative Design Manager for the nation’s largest independent dental distributor.

The six Lucy Hobbs Project Award recipients for 2021, below, are women in dentistry who inspire compassion, create opportunities, unite others to do good, commit to improving lives, encourage collaboration and promote cultural competency. The stories of these women in dentistry will be featured in the winter edition of Incisal Edge magazine.

  • Carole Ann Boyd, DDS, recipient of the Industry Icon award, manifests two beliefs in her career as an oral health care humanitarian: “When adversity strikes, persevere,” and “Love trumps hate.” In her first days as a dentist, and in the 37 years since, Dr. Boyd has demonstrated a commitment to the dental health of the LGBTQ+ community. As a new graduate of Baylor College of Dentistry in Dallas, Texas, she treated HIV-and AIDS-positive patients with dignity when the disease carried extraordinary stigma. She was instrumental in creating the Ryan White Dental Clinic at the San Antonio AIDS Foundation, which she led as its inaugural dental director. In 1992, she earned a Dental Diagnostic Science Certificate at University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio and completed fellowships in Geriatric Dentistry and Medical Ethics. After lecturing extensively and performing research, Dr. Boyd returned to Dallas, where she reestablished dental operations at the Nelson-Tebedo Clinic for AIDS Research and was its director of dental services for the next half-decade. In the past 25 years, her compassion and empathy have become a hallmark of her private practice. She is a member of the American Dental Association, Texas Dental Association, Dallas County Dental Society and Organization for Safety and Asepsis Procedures, among others. Previously, Dr. Boyd was recognized with the Dallas Extra Mile Award for her service efforts.
  • Kajuana Farrey Sutton, DMD, CEO, recipient of the Clinical Expertise award, creates opportunities for dental education and oral health care where they did not exist previously. From the moment she graduated from the Medical College of Georgia’s School of Dentistry in 2009, Dr. Farrey Sutton went to work, establishing impressive clinical networks in southwestern Georgia. When the doors opened on West Albany Dental and Medical Center that same year, Dr. Farrey Sutton became the first African American female dentist in the country to cofound a dental community health center. Two Dental Assistant Programs (Georgia Dental Educational Institutes, LLC) and two Community Health Center-focused private practices (Farrey Implant & Cosmetic Dentistry, LLC) later, Dr. Farrey Sutton continues to motivate in Moultrie, Riverdale, and beyond. A published researcher on scientific papers, she is a member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Moultrie Rotary Club, Georgia Dental Society, American Dental Association, Southwest Georgia Dental Society and National Dental Association. Her efforts have been lauded as a member of the President’s Circle at Albany State University and recognized among the 40 under 40 for the Albany Chamber of Commerce Young Professionals, 50 Under 50 Albany State University honorees and Incisal Edge 40 Under 40, America’s Best Young Dentists. 
  • Meenal Patel, DMD, FAGD, FICOI, recipient of the Humanitarian award, believes acts of service have the power to make a difference and change lives. In Cary, North Carolina, she prioritizes giving back through dentistry and community partnerships. Four years ago, she instituted Cary Cares and two annual give-back events: a free day of dentistry, and a campaign that unites small businesses to honor women who have endured hardship and who work tirelessly for others. The founder of Preston Dental Loft is a volunteer provider for the North Carolina Baptist Dental Bus, Give Kids a Smile Project, and North Carolina Missions of Mercy. Internationally, she has provided dental care for underserved people in Yucatan, Mexico, as well as Santa Domingo, Dominican Republic. Dedication to her profession includes service through leadership positions in all areas of organized dentistry. Dr. Patel graduated magna cum laude at the University of Florida, earned a dental degree at the University of Florida College of Dentistry and completed post-graduate training at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in the Advanced Education in General Dentistry residency program, where she serves as an adjunct faculty member. She has been awarded the prestigious Fellowship in the Academy of General Dentistry, as well as Fellowship in The International Congress of Oral Implantologists. Dr. Patel has been honored in her community as a Health Care Hero and presented with the Cary Chamber of Commerce Impact Award.
  • Brenda L. Hansen, Chief Executive Officer, recipient of the Innovator award, commits to improving the lives of children through problem-solving products designed for pediatric dentistry. After a fall damaged her young son’s front teeth, Hansen envisioned an aesthetic option that would stand the test of time. She partnered with two dentists on the engineering of the biocompatible pediatric Zirconia crown, the first all-ceramic prefabricated crown for primary teeth. From this invention, they established Sprig Oral Health Technologies, Inc. (formerly EZPEDO, Inc.) in Loomis, California. Hansen also created Sprig University, a unique hands-on workshop giving dentists the tools they need to successfully place their flagship product, the EZCrown. She focuses her leadership efforts at Sprig on building an empowered team, driving humanitarian efforts, protecting the planet, and remaining steadfast in the delivery of safer products for children, including the bioceramic SmartMTA. Hansen graduated from California State University, Sacramento with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration and Strategic Management. She received an Export Achievement Certificate from the United States Department of Congress. Hansen has been involved with CDA Cares, an event hosted by the California Dental Association and the CDA Foundation, which supports dental healthcare events and awareness for underserved children in California. She was also nominated to become a member of the CSPD Foundation Board. 
  • Mary Kang, DDS, recipient of the Mentor award, encourages students and colleagues at New York University College of Dentistry (NYUCD) to think critically, analyze and collaborate in support of one goal: the well-being of every patient. The Maxillofacial Prosthodontist aspired to dentistry from age seven when she first observed the negative effects of advanced periodontal disease on her father’s quality of life. She fulfilled that goal at New York University where she received her dental degree and specialty training in prosthodontics. After years of extensive study, Dr. Kang returned to her alma mater as a Clinical Assistant Professor in the Ashman Department of Periodontology and Implant Dentistry. The patient-centric philosophy she strives to impart there as an educator evolved during a fellowship in Maxillofacial Prosthetics at the UCLA School of Dentistry, where she focused on rehabilitating patients with head and neck deformities due to trauma, cancer, or congenital anomalies, and additionally through the Oncologic-Based Maxillofacial Implant Fellowship Program at MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston, Texas. Dr. Kang’s dedication to helping others grasp complex concepts and execute treatments resulted in her induction into the Academy of Distinguished Educators (ADE) at New York University College of Dentistry (NYUCD), which recognizes select dental faculties for their achievements working with students, research, and service activities.
  • Jessica Sliger, DDS, recipient of the Woman to Watch award, incorporates a multifaceted approach to oral health at her pediatric dental practice in Bentonville, Arkansas, complemented by her previous experience as an educator at the high school level. As a bilingual, Latina pediatric dentist, with a dedication to cultural competency, Dr. Sliger creates instructional content in English and Spanish to educate families on oral hygiene and nutrition. Her guidance has been featured in community publications, and her videos have engaged audiences in Northwest Arkansas via Instagram @TheDentistMomma and @MyVillageSmiles. Active with the Diversity in Dentistry Mentorship Program and UMKC Explorer Post Mentorship Program, Dr. Sliger also shares expertise as a community speaker, most recently regarding the implications of Covid-19 on pediatric dentistry. She earned an MAT from the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville and attended the University of Missouri- Kansas City for her Doctor of Dental Surgery. Dr. Sliger received the Pierre Fauchard USA Scholarship Award for clinical excellence and the Dr. Arthur Iwerson Award for excellence in pediatric dentistry. For her leadership and volunteer service, she was recognized as the Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Honors Recipient. Dr. Sliger completed her pediatric dental residency through Children’s Mercy Hospital in Kansas City, Missouri where she received extensive training in behavior management and special needs dentistry. Dr. Sliger provides patient care at Arkansas Children’s Hospital Northwest. 

Powered by Benco Dental and 10,000 members strong, The Lucy Hobbs Project® encourages dental professionals to unite as a force for change through networking, innovation and giving back. Free to join, the Project includes women from all facets of the profession – dentists, dental assistants, hygienists, receptionists, sales representatives. To learn more or become a member, visit: