Shils Fund Hosts Social Entrepreneur Leadership Conference And UPenn Dental Student Competition At Its 16th Annual Awards Event


PHILADELPHIA,  /PRNewswire/ -- The Dr. Edward B. Shils Entrepreneurial Fund, Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to innovation in health care and named after the late Dr. Edward B. Shils, held its 16th annual awards ceremony and a new Social Entrepreneur Leadership conference on October 4 at the Union League in Philadelphia.

The Dr. Edward B. Shils Entrepreneurial Fund held its 16th annual awards ceremony and inaugural Social Entrepreneur Leadership conference earlier this month, recognizing current and future oral health professionals and fostering dialogue about the importance of innovation in health care.

"In its 16th year, the Shils Fund is taking a new direction with our annual event, as we pursue opportunities for dental students to meet with educators and members of the dental and medical industries to discuss issues that impact entrepreneurship in health care," said Steven W. Kess, President of the Dr. Edward B. Shils Entrepreneurial Fund's Board of Directors. "Dr. Edward B. Shils was known for his relentless pursuit of innovation and change in the dental industry, and he would have loved this approach. We honor his legacy by helping build bridges to success for the next generation of health care leaders."

The Social Entrepreneur Leadership conference began with Dr. Bari Levine, MPH, and founder of the Growing Smiles Foundation, who delivered the first of two keynote addresses as she shared her story of being a social entrepreneur. She was followed by Christopher Lai, a University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine student and Shils Fund/Dental Trade Alliance Scholarship winner, who shared his struggle to overcome poverty, language barriers, racism, and significant personal dental health issues to become an oral health care leader in his community.

The keynote speakers were followed by an interactive panel, "The Drive for Innovation and the Potholes Along the Way," which was moderated by Julie Charlestein, President and CEO of Premier Dental Products Company. Panelists included Dr. Matilde Hernández González, Scientific Affairs Manager for Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals; Robert Mehalso, PhD, CEO & Chairman, SensoDX, LLC; Dr. Kris Volcheck, Founder, Brighter Way Institute; Fran Gallagher, CEO, the New Jersey Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics; and Angel Figueroa, Chief Executive Officer, I-LEAD Charter School.

The conference ended with the Shils Stars Dental Student Competition, where teams from the University of Pennsylvania School of Dental Medicine's Dental Innovators, Creators and Entrepreneurs DICE program pitched their business ideas to a panel of judges led by Stanley M. Bergman, Chairman of the Board and Chief Executive Officer of Henry Schein, Inc. The competition results were:

  • 1st Place, $2000: "Modern Mouth" - Juliette Mann and Cole Bender
  • 2nd Place, $1500: "Behavior Based Dental Insurance" - Soren Christensen and Sam Caruso
  • 3rd Place, $1000: "My Smile Pal" - Sherry Wan and Sohee Moon
  • 4th Place, $500: "Spring" - Elizabeth Soulas, Sam Caruso, Mordy Fried, Nick Branson and Samuel Kim

The Shils Fund then held a tribute to Board Member and dental industry icon, Dr. D. Walter Cohen. The tribute was led by Mr. Bergman, who delivered remarks about his personal and professional relationship with Dr. Cohen and the impact he had on the lives of so many people.

The evening concluded with an awards reception to recognize people, organizations, and programs that safeguard the oral health of underserved communities and populations and positively influence the dental community.

The Shils Fund Innovator Awards, a monetary prize given to people and programs from all sectors of the health care community in recognition of their positive and bold impact on the field and their respective communities, were presented to:

  • Fran Gallagher, MEd, CEO, NJ Chapter, American Academy of Pediatrics - In recognition of her passionate commitment to creative, integrated programs like HealthHome 2.0, and partnerships to ensure optimal, comprehensive health for all children and critical support for caregivers.
  • Dr. Kris Volcheck, MBA, Founder, BrighterWay Institute - In recognition of his vision and inventive leadership in the delivery of dental care to our nation's most vulnerable populations.
  • Robert Mehalso, PhD, CEO & Chairman SensoDx, LLC - In recognition of his extensive pioneering achievements in the commercialization of micro/nano/biosystems, including Lab-on-a-Chip systems which hold tremendous potential in the area of diagnostic health care.
  • Dr. Matilde Hernández González, MS, MBA, Scientific Affairs Manager, Colgate Oral Pharmaceuticals - In recognition of her contribution and role as a driving force in delivering Colgate® MagnusCards™ to patients with cognitive special needs and in the promotion of technology to increase the effectiveness of dental and dental hygiene programs throughout the nation.

The Special Recognition Award, which acknowledges people and programs for their work to improve the oral health and well-being of others, was presented to:

  • John D. Kemp, President and CEO of The Viscardi Center and Chairman, Project Accessible Oral Health - For his entrepreneurial leadership of Project Accessible Oral Health and outstanding lifetime achievement as a champion of empowering the disability community.
  • Foundation for Endodontics - Accepted by Dr. Mary Pettiette. In honor of the Foundation's Outreach program and support of Project HOME, both exceptional models of delivering quality oral health care to underserved communities in crisis and in critical need.

The Cohen-Volpe Award is given to those who have made outstanding contributions to dentistry or its allied sciences and named for two distinguished clinicians, researchers, and educators: Dr. D. Walter Cohen and Dr. Anthony Volpe. This year's award was presented to Dr. Allen L. Finkelstein, Chief Executive Officer of Bedford Healthcare Solutions, in recognition of his extraordinary lifetime achievement and leadership in the advancement of integrated dental care to ensure optimal dental health for all and for his outstanding philanthropic commitment to Social Responsibility.

The Shils Meskin Award was presented to Dr. Jack Dillenberg, Dean Emeritus, Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health - A.T. Still University, for his exceptional and relentless pursuit of innovation in education, public health leadership, health program development, and addressing oral health issues to ultimately improve our nation's oral health.

About Dr. Edward B. Shils
Dr. Shils served as the Executive Director of the Dental Manufacturers of America and the Dental Dealers of America for almost 50 years and earned six degrees—including three doctorates—from the University of Pennsylvania, where he served as a professor and Chair of the Management Department at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania. He was also instrumental in establishing the Wharton Entrepreneurial Center, the first institute dedicated to the academic study of entrepreneurialism. Because of his stewardship, scholarship, and encouragement of innovative business practices in dentistry, the Dr. Edward B. Shils Entrepreneurial Fund was established by the dental industry to recognize those whose contributions reflect a similarly enduring commitment to innovation in the field of oral health.

About The Dr. Edward B. Shils Entrepreneurial Fund, Inc.
Friends and colleagues of Dr. Shils, who are also prominent leaders in the dental industry, founded the Dr. Edward D. Shils Entrepreneurial Education Fund in 2002 because they knew that Dr. Shils wanted to leave a legacy of entrepreneurship. In 2012, the Fund was renamed the The Dr. Edward B. Shils Entrepreneurial Fund, Inc. and became a registered 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization. Through annual awards, partnerships and other branded events, the Fund honors the pioneering vision of Dr. Shils and helps foster inspiration and initiative in current and future healthcare entrepreneurs. For more information, please visit


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