BCDHA Dental Hygienist Past Award Recipients

Welcome to the BCDHA Dental Hygienist Awards page, a tribute to excellence in our profession. Here, we celebrate the outstanding achievements and contributions of dental hygienists who have made significant impacts in their field. Recognizing excellence is vital to fostering growth and innovation within our community, and these awards serve as a testament to the dedication and passion of our members. Join us in honoring the remarkable individuals who embody the highest standards of dental hygiene practice and inspire us all to strive for excellence.

Life membership

Life membership is awarded to a full member of the BCDHA who has made an outstanding contribution to BCDHA in an official capacity for over 10 years. Retired members may also be nominated so long as they met the criteria during their full membership years.

2024: Margit Strobl

2022: Tammy Gulevich

Tammy is a 1987 U of A grad and has practiced her entire career in Northern BC. Upon graduation she practiced in Prince George, where dental hygienists were established in some practices, but still a relative rarity in the North. When she moved to Fort St John, she was the first dental hygienist practicing in private practice. She saw the need to promote the profession not only to benefit the public’s oral health but to bring awareness of the benefits dental hygiene brings to overall health. She participated in National Dental Hygiene Week every year for over 30 years of her career, ranging from media reports, contests, social events and radio spots. (Much of this was long before social media!) Soon Fort St. John residents began to recognize dental hygienists as a valued team member in the dental office.

Tammy first became a BCHDA director in 1997, as President of the Northern Component Society of BCDHA. As her two daughters became heavily involved in activities, which turned into other volunteer commitments, Tammy was still found time to serve as a committee member and Chair of the Quality Assurance committee with the CDHBC. In 2014, she returned to the BCDHA as the Northern Director for the next nine years and served as Chair for four years.

Throughout her career she has advocated for not only advancement of the profession but for public dental health prevention and access to care. When Fort St. John’s municipal fluoridation of the water supply was threatened with a referendum to remove fluoride, Tammy helped spearhead the education of the public and was successful in maintaining the fluoridation in the water.

In 2011, Tammy began a mobile practice in residential care. She provides oral assessments and treatment to two facilities in both the North and South Peace region. In 2017, she left the dental office she had practiced in for 27 years, to begin an Independent Dental hygiene practice within a stand-alone dental hygiene clinic. Another first, and once again the need to educate the public that dental hygienists can indeed practice outside of the traditional dental practice. This quickly became a thriving practice that overcame the additional challenge of also needing to educate the dental profession. Eventually a good collaboration was formed with all the dental practices in the community that saw the benefits of both types of practice.

Throughout the years in practice Tammy took the time to mentor countless dental hygienists on various subjects. From clinical skills, office dynamics and employment challenges, she provided mentorship to many dental hygienists over the span of her career. She has had many students/hygienists job shadow her in both private practice and long-term care and she is an annual participant in the local “Grow Your Own” high school mentoring program.

Tammy loves the opportunity to educated dental hygienists, other health professionals, and the general public on the benefits of dental hygiene or the advancement of the profession. Just ask anyone who sits next to her on the plane!

She would like to thank all her own mentors and colleagues, as well as BCDHA, for this award and is very honoured to be the recipient.

2012: Paula McAleese
2004: Ginny Cathcart
2003: D. Thomas
2002: Bonnie Craig

Dianne Gallagher Inspiration Award

Who is your unsung hero? Is there a dental hygienist who has personally or professionally inspired you or someone around you? Perhaps it’s a dental hygienist that has gone above and beyond to better themselves professionally or to enhance the education and oral health of a community group. This person could be a colleague that has overcome adversity or someone who quietly works to make a difference in the lives of others or in their community.

2023: Dr. Denise Laronde
2022: Dawn Moon
2021: Beverley Gray Jackson
2019: Zul Kanji
2017: Donna Lee
2015: Dianne Stojak
2014: Heather Cooper
2013: Jade Lavallee
2012: Mandy Hayre
2011: Dianne Gallagher

Barbara Heisterman Innovation Award

This award is given annually to a dental hygienist who has shown innovation and is a role model to the profession of dental hygiene. The dental hygienist’s innovation should exemplify vision, creativity, courage to act on new ideas, and/or an entrepreneurial spirit; which was undertaken in a professional manner. The dental hygienist has enhanced the knowledge and motivation of others and has made a positive impact and/or advancement to the profession.

2023: Penny Hatzimanolakis

Photo of  Penny Hatzimanolakis
As the daughter of Greek immigrant parents, our family worked tirelessly, yet dental care remained a distant priority. I vividly recall being a little girl, teeth throbbing with pain, avoiding mirrors as if they held some haunting secret. But then, one day, my real-life superhero emerged: the public dental nurse. Armed with an electric Mickey Mouse toothbrush (because even superheroes need gadgets), she transformed my dental experience.

Fast-forward to 1992, when I stepped into the world of dental hygiene. My mission: to empower everyone, just as that little girl had been. Working alongside a periodontics/prosthodontics team, I realized my impact extended beyond mere teeth—it was about forging unity between patients and practitioners, bridging knowledge and action. This revelation fueled my resolve to join the University of British Columbia Faculty of Dentistry in 2002. There, I’ve had the privilege of supporting undergraduate and graduate students and the roles of practitioner and scientific investigator. Sometimes, it feels like a delightful curse—constantly questioning best practices, testing theories, and pushing boundaries. So, of course, in my fifties, my thirst for learning led me to enroll in a doctorate program at UBC. The feeling? Like a fish out of water, gasping for transformative “re-think” moments.

When not immersed in research papers or dentitions, I venture out—speaking at conferences, serving on industry boards, and, most importantly, learning from my colleagues. Amidst my travels and learning, a recurring theme emerged: community. It’s the very essence that underpins my previous “unity.” Recognizing this need, I founded the Elevate Oral Health and Learning Centre in West Vancouver, BC. Our dual purpose is to foster collaboration among colleagues, evolving together in delivering comprehensive patient care; secondly, the center, in a medical building, highlights holistic care or, as we say, “a whole list of”—a proactive approach that understands etiology rather than reactive treatment.

As I humbly accept the Barbara J. Heisterman Award, I carry community in my heart. Innovation, courage, and dedication aren’t mere words but steadfast companions. To my fellow dental hygienists, you are my inspiration, much like Barbara was.

I’m sincerely thankful to the BCDHA for honouring me with this award and grateful for being nominated by my peers

2022: Jennifer Halls
2021: Natasha Kellett
2017: Heather Cooper
2014: Cheri Wu
2012: Mary Lou Walker
2011: Sharon Stead
2010: Louretta Frolek
2008: Mara Sand
2007: Paula McAleese
2006: Susan Nye
2005: Judy Blake
2004: Maxine Borowko
2002: Beverley Contreras
2001: Barbara Heisterman