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American Dental Association head to retire at the end of 2021

O'Loughlin joined ADA as first female executive director in 2009
O'Loughlin
O'Loughlin

Dec. 16, 2020
By Lori Sharn

Kathleen O’Loughlin plans to retire at the end of 2021 after leading the American Dental Association as executive director for 12 years, the Chicago-based organization announced Wednesday

O’Laughlin joined ADA in 2009. She previously was chief dental officer for United Health Group and CEO of Delta Dental of Massachusetts. O’Loughlin was the first female dental school class president and valedictorian at Tufts University School of Medicine. After graduating, she spent 20 years in private dental practice.  

Association Forum recognized O’Loughlin with its Woman of Influence Award in 2019.  

“I thank Dr. O’Loughlin for her long-running commitment to our great organization and we are grateful she has given us more than a year’s notice so we can conduct a robust search,” ADA President Daniel Klemmedson said in a Dec. 16 statement. “As we look to the future, we are committed to finding the most qualified candidate to build on Dr. O’Loughlin’s work to power the profession of dentistry and assist dentists in advancing the health of their patients.”

Dental practices have been hard hit during the pandemic. For a time in the spring, ADA urged dentists to keep their offices closed to everything except urgent and emergency procedures. Offices have since reopened with safety protocols, but many patients are deferring regular care.  

ADA has hired Korn Ferry to assist in the search for a new executive director. Candidates are not required to be dentists. ADA represents 163,000 dentist members and reported $140 million revenue in 2018. O’Loughlin’s take-home pay was $597,301.