GEHA Solutions Invests $250,000 into Oral Health Equity Philanthropy, Focused on Diversifying Dentistry and Dental Hygiene

Partnerships with the University of Missouri-Kansas City’s School of Dentistry; BrownGirl, RDH; and Chiefs Flag Football, Powered By GEHA address health inequities.

GEHA (Government Employees Health Association, Inc., pronounced G.E.H.A.) has a storied history of supporting its community with intentional giving, starting in 1937 when the organization was created to help fellow postal clerks after the Great Depression.

This spirit carries through to today, where philanthropic efforts are focused around health equity and positively impacting the social determinants of health. The oral health focus of GEHA Solutions, Inc., a wholly owned for-profit subsidiary of GEHA, has provided an opportunity to make a significant vote toward change by investing in three areas that affect community health.

Within the dental and dental hygiene fields, many communities of color are underrepresented within these industries. According to the American Dental Association, fewer than 11% of American dentists come from African American/Black, Hispanic/Latinx and American Indian/Alaska Native/Pacific Islander backgrounds, compared with these groups comprising 34.4% of the U.S. population. This can affect long-term health outcomes in many ways: apprehension and omission of care appointments, cultural and language misunderstandings and peer-to-peer dentist learning opportunities to better serve patients. To create meaningful, sustainable change, GEHA Solutions has created a $150,000 scholarship and fellowship investment with the University of Missouri–Kansas City’s (UMKC) School of Dentistry to fund opportunities for students representing historically marginalized communities to advance within these industries.

Representing the largest gift of its kind to the UMKC’s School of Dentistry’s Dr. Roy James Rinehart Memorial Foundation in more than a decade, these investments include five $20,000 dental scholarships, five $5,000 dental hygiene scholarships, and five $5,000 pre-dental fellowships to prepare rising dental school students for testing and interviews. Engagement opportunities throughout the school year with GEHA leaders will also assist in preparing these students for future successes. “GEHA Solutions and the School of Dentistry share a mutual interest in culturally diversifying the oral health workforce through the dental and dental hygiene programs at UMKC,” said Steven E. Haas, DMD, JD, MBA, UMKC School of Dentistry dean. “GEHA Solutions’ generosity will help alleviate some of our potential and current students’ financial burdens and allow them to better focus on their goals. The scholarships GEHA Solutions is providing also will help us to attract and retain the best qualified and most strongly motivated historically marginalized students who seek to represent their communities. We are so very grateful for this unique partnership.”

Consistent with this theme, GEHA Solutions has partnered with national nonprofit BrownGirl, RDH for a $50,000 investment in scholarships and continuing education opportunities for historically marginalized communities pursuing a career in dental hygiene. When most of a patient’s dental experience is spent with a dental hygienist, the opportunity for impact toward health equity was a strategic investment for industry growth. These 16 need-based scholarships will be provided to students throughout the United States, ranging from coverage of tuition to dental loupes and equipment. GEHA Solutions will also be the first presenting partner of the 2022 BrownGirl, RDH Leadership Conference, Presented by GEHA Solutions, held in Charlotte, North Carolina, from November 11–13. “Four years ago, an organization like BrownGirl, RDH did not exist. Today, not only are we nationally recognized, but we have brought to the forefront the lack of diversity in dentistry and the importance of introducing the field of dental hygiene to minority students,” said Martelle Coke, founder of BrownGirl, RDH. “BrownGirl, RDH is proud to partner with GEHA Solutions to continue propelling our mission forward.”

Youth sports communities offer great experiences for wellness and mobility, but with this comes a risk for oral impact injuries. According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, athletes are 60 times more likely to suffer harm to the teeth if they are not wearing a mouthguard. In the spirit of using GEHA’s partnership with the Kansas City Chiefs as an intentional tool for health equity and community collaboration, GEHA Solutions will provide 20,000 GEHA/Chiefs co-branded mouthguards to the youth participants of the Chiefs Flag Football, Powered By GEHA program this summer. Providing these safety tools allows for participating families to experience one less expense as an entry point to physical team activities.

“From minimizing youth sports injuries to allowing more communities to see themselves in dental and dental hygiene care, GEHA Solutions is committed to being a bridge toward improved oral health and inclusive oral health practices,” said Richard Bierman, J.D., GEHA Solutions President. “Through these intentional partnerships, our investments can evolve population health through students’ lived and academic experiences. We hope that this diversified strategy around health equity inspires others to take action, as well.”

About GEHA
GEHA (Government Employees Health Association, Inc., pronounced G.E.H.A.), founded in 1937, is a nonprofit member association and the largest dental and second largest medical benefit provider of federal employees exclusively serving 2 million current employees and retirees, military retirees and their families. GEHA’s mission, to empower members to be healthy and well, is demonstrated through its focus on innovation as well as providing members with access to one of the largest medical provider networks nationwide.
Headquartered in Lee’s Summit, Missouri, GEHA is one of the largest employers in the Kansas City metro area. For more information, visit

About GEHA Solutions, Inc.
GEHA Solutions is an indirect, wholly owned subsidiary of GEHA established in 1997 to market GEHA’s Connection Dental® Network as a solution to lower claims costs for dental payers. Today, GEHA Solutions offers multiple dental PPO networks for lease, as well as a Medicare Advantage Network Option. As one of the nation’s leading dental network leasing companies, GEHA Solutions’ dental networks improve accessibility for clients such as third-party administrators, insurance companies and self-insured employer groups.

About BrownGirl, RDH
Founded in 2018, BrownGirl, RDH (Registered Dental Hygienist) is a non-profit organization promoting cultural diversity within the dental hygiene field. BrownGirl, RDH offers scholarships and supplemental support to dental hygiene students covering costs outside of tuition. These include clinical supplies, equipment, loupes and national and clinical board fees. For more information, visit

from UMKC Today, your home for all news from UMKC

story by Bryce Puntenney, UMKC MCOM

Dental Class of 2024 and Dental Hygiene Class of 2023 Transition into the Profession

Care. Dedication. Trust. Integrity. Respect. Compassion. Responsibility. Self-Improvement.

These were some of the words emphasized by the students and speakers at the annual Transitioning Into the Profession Ceremony.

The ceremony was held at the Unity Temple on the Plaza on Friday, June 3, 2022. The ceremony welcomed the DDS Class of 2024 and DH Class of 2023 to the clinical phase of their educational programs. Dr. Lance Godley, Interim Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs, served as the master of ceremonies, along with Dean Steven Haas who welcomed and shared remarks with the over 1,000 participants in attendance. Each class also choose influential faculty members to provide keynotes. Professor Julie Sutton was chosen by the dental hygiene class and Dr. Luke Wezeman was chosen by the dental class. Following the remarks each class in unison rose to read their respective Code of Ethics, which were then signed by each class member as they crossed the stage after being presented with a white coat (DDS students) or scrubs (DH students). Students left the ceremony with a reaffirmed dedication to their patients, education, each other, and their profession. Family and friends witnesses their affirmation and celebrated the significant step each student has arrived at.  Supporters from several dental organizations contributed to the ceremony and included the following:  Dr. Roy J. Rinehart Memorial Foundation, Dental Hygiene Alumni Association, Dental Alumni Association; Pierre Fauchard Academy, Heart of America Dental Association, Missouri Dental Hygienists’ Association, Missouri Dental Association, Kansas Dental Association, and the Kansas Dental Hygienists’ Association.

Photos from the ceremony at the links below

Candid photos 

DDS Class of 2024 Signing Class Code and Receiving Their White Coats

DDS Class of 2024 Portraits in Their White Coats

DH Class of 2023 Signing Class Code and Receiving Clinic Scrubs

DH Class of 2023 Portraits with their Clinic Scrubs

DDS and DH Class Group Photos





Remembering Dr. Carole McArthur

It is with a profound sense of loss that we announce that Dr. Carole McArthur passed away on Friday, May 20th after a brief illness. Carole retired in 2019 after 28 years of service to UMKC and the School of Dentistry and School of Medicine. Carole was originally from New Zealand and still maintained a home there. She received her Ph.D. from the University of Otago and her MD from the UMKC School of Medicine. Over her career she published over 200 original articles, book chapters and abstracts and received over 70 grants and contracts from Federal, State and Local Agencies as well as International Foundations and Pharmaceutical companies. She was internationally renowned and notably for the past 2 decades, she was at the cutting edge of HIV/AIDS and TB diagnostic system development and evaluation in Cameroon, South Africa and the Democratic Republic of Congo, where she established treatment clinics that have served millions of people. In 2019 she discovered the first new strain of HIV in 20 years. Shortly before her retirement she was recognized by Otago University as a “Life-Changer”, an award given to alumni that recognizes the sum total of their career achievements; in her case for advancing scientific research and humanitarian aid in the fight against AIDS in Africa. Throughout her career in science, medicine and education she also maintained several recreational passions, most notably the Olympic sport of Dressage. She bred and trained horses for many years and competed with them, winning several competitions. Upon her retirement she was appointed an Emeritus Professor and received an Olson Professorship. We send our deepest sympathies to her family and many friends. She touched the lives of countless individuals, and it was a true privilege for those of who knew her to call her colleague and friend.


Hooding Ceremony and UMKC Commencement Honor 2022 Dental Grads

Presiding, Dr. Steven Haas, Dean of the School of Dentistry noted “the Hooding Ceremony, this afternoon, and the Commencement Ceremony, on Sunday morning, are important moments for our dental school community to celebrate and recognize the successes and accomplishments of our graduates. This is especially true for the graduates before us today whose education has been so different, on a daily basis, for the last two years due to the worldwide pandemic – a major disruptive force in all our lives but especially in dental education.” Dean Haas acknowledged the numerous commendable class accomplishments, leaders of our student organizations, represented the school at regional and national meetings, volunteered in the local and regional community, participated in oral health outreach through opportunities like Give Kids a Smile, Mission of Mercy, Team Smile, JayDoc, and provided COVID vaccinations through our school dental clinic and the “Our Healthy Eastside Project”. He further notes “you’ve worked hard to fulfill degree requirements, pass boards, jurisprudence exams, and clinical licensure exams. Most importantly, you’ve cared for patients through extramural rotations across the state and while in our school clinic where you treated 7,906 patients. To be at this point in your journey has required a great deal of dedication, sacrifice, resilience, effort, humbleness, stretching, care, and accomplishment. I know that everyone here is in agreement when we say we are so proud of you!”

The class will be heading off for new challenges Missouri, Kansas, throughout the U.S., and even across the globe in Kuwait! Your plans include:

5 graduates who will be serving in the military
12 graduates who will be entering positions in public health clinics
49 graduates entering private practice
27 graduates entering a specialty/residency program
7 Advanced Education in General Dentistry Residency
9 General Practice Residency
7 Pediatric Dentistry Residency
1 Periodontics Residency
2 Orthodontics Residency
1 Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Residency
2 Oral Surgery Fellowship Residency

The ceremony included the special tradition honoring graduates entering the United States military upon graduation. The commissioning of the 2 uniformed dental graduates and oath were administered by Dr. Derek Williams, Commander, United States Navy Reserves, and Associate Professor, Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences.

Dean Haas shared a bit of the history, tradition and significance of the regalia, the cap, gown and hood before each graduate was called forward by name.

The hooding was performed Dr. Eric Gottman, Clinical Associate Professor, Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences and Team 2 Coordinator or a family member that is a dental alum or dentist.

The Dean’s Academic Distinction Award was presented to Dr.) Katherine Hayes, honoring the graduate who completed the dental curricula with the highest academic rank.
Each year the graduating class recognizes a faculty member whom they selected as the most influential to their development as dental professionals. (Dr.) Nicole Kurlbaum, Class President, offered remarks and presented the 2022 Teacher of Excellence Award to Dr. Becky Smith, Clinical Professor, Department of Restorative Clinical Sciences and Team 1 Coordinator.

A  reception followed and UMKC’s Commencement ceremony was held at Kauffman Stadium on Sunday.

Find photos from the hooding event and reception here.

Photos from the military commissioning ceremony here.

Photos of the grads being hooded.

Portraits of the dental grads from the hooding ceremony are here.

Class group photo.

Photos of dental school grads taken at UMKC Commencement at the “K” here.


Senior Scholarship Day Celebrates Accomplishments of Dental Hygiene Class of 2022

The Annual Senior Scholarship Day celebrated the accomplishments of the Dental Hygiene Class of 2022 with awards and special presentations recently. Congratulations to all of this year’s recipients!

Academy of Dentistry for Persons with Disabilities Award
Alexmarie Davis

American Association of Public Health Dentistry
Grace Williams

Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals Star Award
Alyssa Supter

Golden Scaler Award sponsored by the Hu-Friedy Co.
Abby Eskina

Missouri Dental Hygienists’ Association Award
Emily Ramsey

UMKC Dental Hygienists’ Alumni Association Sherry Burns Outstanding Clinician Award
Alex Tucker

Sigma Phi Alpha National Honor Society Inductees
Alex Tucker
Brandie Simonsen
Ryann Flax

R. Lois Scott Scholarship
Tawnya Guthrie

Annual Alpha Gamma Chapter of Sigma Phi Alpha Scholarship recipient
Kennedy Bauer

Proctor and Gamble Crest Oral B Preventive Dentistry Hygiene Award
Kara Collier

Dean’s Academic Distinction Award
Brandie Simonsen

Faculty Award
Prof. Julie Sutton

Find photos here.

2022 School of Dentistry Alumni Achievement Award Winners Honored

Each year, the University and School of Dentistry recognizes an outstanding alumnus or alumna for lifelong commitment to the profession, the community, and the School. We are privileged to recognize Dr. Brenda Bohaty and Jo Ann Weatherwax as this year’s honorees.

Dr. Brenda Bohaty is Chair of the UMKC School of Dentistry’s Department of Pediatric Dentistry and concurrently the Director of the Residency Program in Pediatric Dentistry at the Children’s Mercy Hospital and Clinics in Kansas City, Missouri. During her nearly 35 years of service to the School, Dr. Bohaty has accomplished a long list of academic and research endeavors including her instrumental role in initiating and running the Dental Clinic at Operation Breakthrough. This program allows children who attend day care at Operation Breakthrough to receive comprehensive dental care at no cost to their care providers. An impactful experience for both the children in the community and dental students. Dr. Bohaty serves as one of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry representatives on the Commission for Dental Accreditation Review Committee as a site visitor, she received a national appointment to serve as a member of the Review Committee member for the National Commission on Dental Specialties, she serves as Chair of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry Graduate In-Service Examination Committee and as an expert consultant on the Council of Pre-Doctoral Education. She also serves on the Rinehart Foundation Board.

Jo Ann Weatherwax serves as the founding Dental Program Director for the Volusia County Health Department in Daytona Beach, Florida and has dedicated her career to help solving the national issue of access to oral healthcare services. Jo Ann, the first dental hygienist to serve as a dental director at a county health department in Florida, developed a clinical program, added an additional clinic to serve the western area of Volusia County, and established a county-wide school sealant and oral health education program. Her dedication to the Health Department and safety net programs in Volusia County has resulted in the delivery of oral healthcare services to countless children and families. Along with her work in public health, Jo Ann has served in numerous leadership roles including most recently as the President of the Florida Dental Hygiene Association.

Both awardees will be recognized at the UMKC campus-wide celebration on April 29th

Photos from the reception honoring the awardees here.

Midwest Dental Conference Wraps Up with Encore – Sunday Events

The Midwest Dental Conference’s “live tour” concluded Sunday after four days of long-awaited in-person reunions and lessons on the latest in dental education. On the morning of the final day, the annual Dental Alumni Trustees’ and Alumni Past President’s Breakfast was followed by three more scientific sessions. The last of the more than 2,500 attendees exchanged farewells after getting the band back together and hit the road to put into practice all the lessons learned over the course of the conference.  Sunday photos here.

Rockin’ Saturday Filled with Honors, Reunions and Education

Saturday’s activities started with Orthodontics meetings over breakfast at the Sheraton. Courses took up much of the morning at MDC 2022, before the Alumni Recognition Luncheon. The highlight of the event was a generous donation from GEHA to the UMKC School of Dentistry. The luncheon also honored outstanding alumni, including the class of 1972, which is celebrating its 50th reunion this year! The day’s scientific sessions addressed a wide range of topics, from emerging trends in periodontics to the lessons learned in dental care during two pandemics: HIV and COVID-19. The day’s events wrapped up with the annual Presidents’ Reception, where they honored donors atop the Westin at Benton’s.  Saturday photos here.

Midwest Dental Conference Welcomes Alums and Friends – Friday Events

Friday began by welcoming MDC’s more than 2,500 attendees to the learning sessions. Day two of this four-day conference offered attendees 70 top-notch technical exhibits, as well as Continuing Education sessions with topics like digital impressions and new 3D technology, better ways to give personal and customized care to patients, and even how to spot obstructive sleep apnea and save lives. As the evening began, a special happy hour gave attendees more chances to connect, followed by the ever-popular Friday night Welcome Party. This year, the party served as an opportunity for many to meet the new dean, Steven E. Haas, D.M.D., J.D., M.B.A.  Photos from the day here.

Pouring from the Heart Turns 22 in 2022

Pouring from the Heart celebrated its 22nd year in 2022. We were back in-person at the Westin Century Ballroom Thursday evening for an evening filled with delicious food and wine pairings. While the food and wine made it an evening to enjoy, this party was also filled with purpose. Pouring from the Heart raises money to provide crucial funding to help care for those in need. Guests enjoyed a scrumptious three-course meal put together by the Westin staff with a wine pairing for each dish. Silent auction items ranged from a getaway to New Orleans, to a Caribbean Vacation in Cancun, Riviera Maya, Cozumel or Isla Mujeres.  Enjoy photos from the Gala  Find the selfies taken by the Photo Bus here