Dr. Sharon Parsons, 2020 ODA president

New this year, the ODA Annual Session will feature a special event “Celebrating Women in Dentistry, Honoring 2020 ODA President Dr. Sharon Parsons and Other Female Dental Leaders” on Friday, Oct. 1 from 2:30-4:30 p.m.

“Women dentists are growing by large numbers in our state and we have an excellent opportunity at this year’s Annual Session to celebrate the women who have forged our path in organized dentistry,” said Dr. Lori Fitzgerald, chair of the 2021 ODA Annual Session. “I am looking forward to attending the ‘Celebrating Women in Dentistry’ event honoring our immediate past-president Dr. Sharon Parsons (third female president in ODA history), Dr. Billy Sue Kyger (second female president in ODA history and ADA immediate-past 7th District trustee), Dr. Kathleen T. O’Loughlin (ADA executive director), and featured speaker Bertice Berry, PhD. Women do have a strong voice in dentistry and are warmly welcomed at the ODA to share their experiences, wisdom and insight. I look forward to all dentists joining us this year to celebrate all of our many blessings!”

This event is open to all dentists and will discuss the challenges and opportunities facing women dentists and will celebrate the accomplishments of dentistry’s female leaders, including 2020 ODA President Dr. Sharon Parsons, outgoing Executive Director of the American Dental Association Dr. Kathleen O’Loughlin and Immediate-Past ADA 7th District Trustee Dr. Billie Sue Kyger.

“Though this event will shine a spotlight upon women dentists, it is a must for all dentists,” said Dr. Canise Bean, chair of the ODA Subcouncil on Diversity and Inclusion, who will serve as Master of Ceremonies for the event. “We will be reminded of the accomplishments achieved and strength shown in daunting and dire times as well as complex situations shown by these amazing women. Our honorees have led with purpose for the future of organized dentistry. Come be enlightened!”

Dr. Billie Sue Kyger, immediate-past 7th District trustee

The event will kick off with remarks from motivational speaker Bertice Berry, PhD, who is one of this year’s ODA Annual Session keynote speakers. It will also feature remarks from Parsons, O’Loughlin and Kyger, and a question and answer session with the honorees aimed at discussing the unique challenges and opportunities women dentists face.

“Throughout the history of the ODA there have been many female dentist members but very few in leadership positions,” Parsons said. “For instance, I am only the third female president in over 150 years. As the numbers of women in dentistry increase, I feel that it is important for young female dentists to see themselves represented in organized dentistry and to see why belonging to organized dentistry is so important.”

ODA President Dr. David Kimberly said “I’ve always seen women in dentistry as a natural progression of the profession. Perhaps it’s a result of being raised in the presence of strong educated women that it seems natural and honestly overdue. This event is a chance to recognize and celebrate the individual achievements of these professionals but also a chance to celebrate the progress made with regard to breaching decades-old obstacles women have faced when attempting to join the dental fraternity. It’s going to be a wonderful celebration and I hope to see everyone there!”

This event will also be an opportunity to celebrate these female leaders who stepped up to additional challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“As fate would have it, during the start of the COVID pandemic, quite possibly one of the most difficult challenges for dentistry, many of our leaders happened to be female,” Parsons said. “This was a very challenging time both in terms of how to navigate the crisis safely for all concerned and in dealing with very stressed people. I am really tired of the term ‘unprecedented,’ but it is the best term to describe what we faced. While we all wish that we could have proceeded with no extra precautions and no time away from the office, I think that dentistry stepped up to the plate and handled the crisis with the scientific facts as they emerged and managed to keep everyone safe.”

Because of the pandemic, many in-person events and celebrations were canceled last year and these leaders who went above and beyond were unable to be celebrated.

Dr. Kathleen T. O’Loughlin, ADA executive director

“Sharon had probably one of the more if not the most difficult ODA presidential terms of any ODA president in the history of the ODA,” said Dr. Steve Moore, a past president of the ODA. “She did an outstanding job of guiding us through this most difficult time. I think this event will be a great opportunity to show our appreciation of her hard work to our profession and to the ODA during her presidential year. This is a luncheon for all dentists where we can get to know each other and get a better understanding of our trials and tribulations of our various practice modalities.”

To register for this free event, as well as the 2021 ODA Annual Session, visit This year’s Annual Session is Sept. 30-Oct. 2 at the Greater Columbus Convention Center.

“While this event celebrates the accomplishments of our women leaders, it is important that all of us help celebrate,” Parsons said. “I would like to personally invite all dentists, male and female alike, to attend this fun event.”

This event is presented in partnership with the ODA Subcouncil on Diversity and Inclusion.