As two successful women in dentistry, Dr. Deborah George, BSN, DDS and Dr. Nicole McGrath-Barnes, DDS, FACD continue to trailblaze the way for young women of color to close the diversity gap in dental medicine.

A dedication to their careers and communities has helped thousands gain access to adequate oral healthcare. Both have earned Benco’s Lucy Hobbs Project Awards, which honor Dr. Lucy Hobbs Taylor who earned her dental degree in 1866, advancing equality for her gender. Hobbs defied nearly a decade of resistance, leading with clinical proficiency and innovative thinking; then she mentored others to do the same. The Project was created by Benco Dental to honor women with the same vibrant spirit that Dr. Hobbs possessed.

In the near future, I anticipate more female dentists participating in organized dentistry, as well as in leadership roles at the local, state and national level.”

Dr. Deborah George, Lucy Hobbs Project Clinical Expertise Award recipient, 2019

Deborah George, BSN, DDS paves the way for new dental technologies to close the access to care gap.

Dr. Deborah George is the Executive Vice President and first female Chief Dental Officer at Jessie Trice Community Health System (JTCHS) in Miami, Florida. In this position, Dr. George oversees the operations of seven dental practices. During her tenure, she has led partnerships with NYU Langone Dental Medicine and Larkin Community Hospital in Miami to create independent Advanced Education in General Dentistry Programs (AEGD) hosted at JTCHS. Dr. George spearheaded the shift to Electronic Dental Records, established a dental practice within a medical pediatric practice and secured training for staff to provide HIV screening in the dental setting.

After earning a BSN from Hampton Institute, Virginia, her brief career in nursing reinforced Dr. George’s desire to serve. Then she earned a dental degree from Georgetown University School of Dentistry, Washington, DC.

Firsthand awareness inspired her to decrease the oral health disparities among low-income minority groups, as well as the underrepresentation of African American women in the dental profession. Presently, she leads the integration of teledentistry into the oral health program at JTCHS. In the community, Dr. George serves as founding member and Vice President of a Female Investment Group, FIG, for women, and as a mentor to young adults and young professionals. Dr. George was the recipient of the Lucy Hobbs Clinical Expert Award in 2019 for her efforts and success during her career at Jessie Trice.

Dr. Nicole McGrath-Barnes, Founder of the KinderSmile Foundation.

After seeing inequity herself, Nicole McGrath-Barnes, DDS, FACD knew she needed to act.

Dr. Nicole McGrath-Barnes has never lost sight of a dream that inspired her at age 15: Service through dentistry. After acquiring her dental degree from the University of Maryland and spending 16 years in private practice, she began witnessing inequities in many communities and knew she needed to act.

Dr. McGrath-Barnes created KinderSmile Foundation in Bloomfield, New Jersey. From 2007 to 2000, more than 28,000 children and families in that state experienced free dentistry ($7 million+ in donated services) through the efforts of the 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. In that time, Dr. Nicole McGrath-Barnes has mentored 35-plus high school and college students to pursue careers in the dental profession.

One endeavor that Dr. McGrath-Barnes took on resulted in the expansion of KinderSmile’s dental homes in impoverished areas of Newark and Trenton and inspired her to create an educational dental app for patients that is age appropriate in two languages. Her efforts have been lauded by The New Jersey Dental Association, New Jersey Office of the Governor, and local community impact organizations. Dr. McGrath-Barnes was the recipient of the Lucy Hobbs Humanitarian award in 2020 for her dedication to giving back to her community.

I CAME TO REALIZE THAT my purpose in dentistry Is to advocate for THE children and families who don’t have a voice AND LACK access to care. That is my path.”

Dr. Nicole McGrath-Barnes, Lucy Hobbs Project Humanitarian Award Recipient, 2020

Nominate inspiring women in dentistry for a Lucy Hobbs Project Award. DEADLINE is AUGUST 1, 2022 for the awards presented by Benco Dental.

The Lucy Hobbs Project, powered by Benco Dental for more than a decade, empowers women in the profession to drive change and deliver results through networking, innovation and giving back. The Project is named in tribute to the first woman in the U.S. to earn a dental degree.


  1. Visit this link:
  2. Nominate in one of these six award categories:

Woman to Watch: An up-and-coming leader who utilizes her position to create positive change in the industry.

Industry Icon: A trailblazer who is consistently recognized and admired for her work in the dental industry.

Mentor: An advisor who recognizes the importance of supporting, educating and encouraging others.

Innovator: A groundbreaker who demonstrates a willingness to implement new technologies and business processes without fear of potential failure.

Humanitarian: An altruist who works tirelessly for a charity or cause that benefits the well-being of others.

Clinical Expert: A skillful practitioner who embraces advancements and adeptly integrates them into patient care.

Want to learn more?

Meet past recipients of the project’s annual awards: HERE.