CHICAGO, October 30 – Today, Oral Health America (OHA) joins the dental and public health industry in mourning the loss of its former President & CEO, Dr. Robert Klaus. His dedication, leadership and public service established the groundwork for advocacy on behalf of vulnerable populations.
During his 20 year tenure at Oral Health America (OHA) from 1988 to 2008, Robert played an instrumental role in fostering a national dialogue about the importance of oral health. Current OHA programs and campaigns such as Smiles Across America® and NSTEP® (National Spit Tobacco Education Project) were established during his tenure.
Former Board Chair, Kathy Zweig remembers Dr. Klaus as “someone who endured much to get the message about health equity across to anyone who would listen. To Robert, this work was vital and failure was not an option.”
Dr. Klaus arrived at Oral Health America (then America’s Fund for Dental Health) in 1988, with a PhD in history. His vision for a future free of inequities in access to oral healthcare was paired with his stewardship in raising awareness about oral health’s importance to overall health. In 1994, Dr. Klaus spearheaded the renaming of the organization and the inclusion of a new area of focus - public advocacy.
Dr. Klaus’ leadership was acclaimed by the public health industry. He was recognized by the Dr. Edward B. Shils Entrepreneurial Education Fund, received a 2007 Distinction in Public Service Award from the Friends of the National Institute of Dental and Craniofacial Research, and garnered a Special Friend Award from Special Olympics/Special Smiles.
Oral Health America and the larger dental community keenly feel the loss of Dr. Klaus. His positive leadership style and innovative thinking raised the bar for oral health in America.