Bulletin of Dental Education

Roots in Iowa Lead Dr. Kathryn Kell to Presidency of FCI WDF

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With roots in Iowa and ambition to become a positive force in health care, Kathryn Kell, D.D.S., M.A., has made her way to the top of the largest membership-based dental organization in the world. In late August, Dr. Kell was installed as President of FDI World Dental Federation (FDI) at the FDI World Dental Congress in Madrid, Spain. 

Growing up in Davenport, IA, Dr. Kell’s childhood interest in science, as well as family connections to the profession, drew her to dentistry. She received a B.A. from the University of Iowa in 1974, followed by a D.D.S. from The University of Iowa College of Dentistry & Dental Clinics in 1979. After graduation, Dr. Kell joined a private practice. Since 1995, she has maintained a general dentistry private practice in her hometown. Dr. Kell also earned an M.A. in Health Care Administration from St. Ambrose University in a quest to provide better health care and develop health care policy.

This appointment is the culmination of more than two decades of purposeful advocacy for and within the FDI. Dr. Kell first became interested in the organization when she attended an American Dental Association (ADA) meeting that featured the FDI, and was immediately hooked. The first FDI meeting she attended was in Hong Kong. Her attendance at this meeting and her interest in international affairs were noticed, and she was appointed to the Council on ADA Sessions and International Programs. In 1998, she was nominated successfully to be a member of the FDI Education Committee. Since that time, she has sat on many committees and served in several other positions. She has served as President-elect for the past two years in preparation for her two-year appointment as President.

During her career, she continued her involvement with the ADA. She chairs the ADA Committee on International Programs and Development. From 2008–2011, Dr. Kell was Chair of the ADA Monitoring Committee for the Commission on Dental Accreditation and served on the ADA Board of Trustees from 2004–2008. As a member of the ADA governing board, she has been a liaison to many ADA councils and committees.

Dr. Kell remains an avid supporter of the University of Iowa and UI COD. She values education and research, especially the excellent education she received at the UI COD. She is an active member of the President’s Club and serves on several UI COD Campaign committees. She is also a member of the UI Dental Alumni Association Board. From 2010–2011, she was Chair of the UI Alumni Association. 

In 2012, the UI Dental Alumni Association and UI COD recognized Dr. Kell’s achievements and her commitment to oral health, not only locally, but also nationally and abroad. It is because of her many achievements that she was awarded the 2012 Alumna of the Year Award.

Dr. Kell is a member of the American College of Dentists, the International College of Dentists, the Academy of Dentistry International, the American Association of Health Care Executives, Delta Mu Delta Honorary Society and the Pierre Fauchaud Academy. She is a past president of both the Iowa Dental Association and the American Association of Women Dentists. In 2007, she received the Lucy Hobbs Taylor Women Dentist of the Year Award.

Dr. Kell has plans to make her two years as FDI President count, with the omnipresent goal of improving oral health throughout the world. “FDI has just developed the structure for a new strategic plan to guide us through the next three years,” she says. “My goal would be to follow the plan, which will be based on the three pillars of membership, advocacy and knowledge transfer.”

Published on September 13, 2017

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