Distinguished Alumni Awards

2022 Alumni Award Winners

Distinguished Dental Alumni Award
Gary Anderson, DDS '80, MS '83

Gary Anderson, DDS ’80, MS ’83, is a professor at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry in the Department of Developmental Surgical Sciences. For 40 years, Anderson has held positions at the School of Dentistry including Dean, Interim Dean, Senior Associate Dean, Chair of Diagnostic and Surgical Sciences, Program Director of the Cleft Palate/Craniofacial Anomalies Program, Co-Director of the TMD and Orofacial Pain Clinic, interim department chair and more. Anderson also began practicing clinically with HealthPartners in 1984, where he treated patients until 2020. He has directed, co-directed or lectured in many TMD & orofacial pain, occlusion, craniofacial and prosthodontic courses at the pre-doctoral, graduate, and post-graduate levels, and has mentored or served as a thesis advisor for multiple students, both pre- and graduate level. His research has resulted in more than 40 publications and 35 abstracts, along with more than ten grants, all focused on TMD and orofacial pain.

Anderson has served as a reviewer for multiple dental journals, including the Journal of Dental Education, the Journal of the American Dental Association, the Journal of Dental Research, the Cochrane Collaboration and the Journal of Orofacial Pain. He has served on committees and in varied leadership positions of the Minneapolis District Dental Society, the Minnesota Dental Association, the UMN Campus Club, the MN Dept of Health, the Big 10 Consortium of Dental Schools, the American Academy of Orofacial Pain, and the Association of University TMD and Orofacial Programs.

Distinguished Dental Hygiene Alumni Award
Katrina Sanders, RDH, BSDH '07, MEd, RF

Katrina Sanders, RDH, BSDH ’07, MEd, RF, is a speaker, instructor, clinician and researcher. In addition to her periodontal clinical work at AZPerio, Sanders served as a clinic coordinator, curriculum developer and didactic instructor in the dental hygiene and continuing education programs at Fortis College in Arizona from 2013-2017. Sanders is the CEO and keynote speaker at Sanders Board Preparatory, where she effectively prepares hygienists to take their clinical examinations. She is an international speaker on local anesthesia, infectious diseases and periodontics, with more than 300 speaking engagements since 2020. She hosts podcasts and is an advisor on several boards, including Women in Dentistry, Dental Speaker Bureau and Endeavor Publications. She serves as a corporate consultant to organizations such as Dentsply Sirona, Proctor & Gamble and Hu-Friedy Group.

Sanders’s accolades include the 2023 Denobi Award, 2021 and 2022 Oral Health and Dentistry Award for Best Clinical Dental Hygienist in the Southwest USA, the 2022 CorporateLiveWire Innovation and Excellence Award for Dental Hygienist of the Year and the 2018 Dentistry’s Got Talent People’s Choice Winner. Most notably, Sanders has delivered dental humanitarian work in underserved communities and fundraised the Bob & Linda Sanders Memorial Library in Rwanda, Africa in loving honor and memory of her parents.

Previous recipients

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2021 Awardees

Distinguished Dental Alumni Award
Deborah Lien, DDS '83, MS

Deborah Lien, DDS ’83, MS, is the owner of Lien Orthodontics in Blooming Prairie, MN. After graduating summa cum laude with high distinction with her Doctor of Dental Surgery in 1983, she attended the Mayo Graduate School of Medicine to pursue her Masters of Science in Orthodontics. She practiced in Rochester, Owatonna and most recently opened her practice in Blooming Prairie, MN in 2000. Lien also does locum tenens for her colleagues needing medical, disability or maternity leave. A fierce advocate for rural communities like the ones in which she grew up, Lien has made whole-body wellness for patients in outstate and rural Minnesota a priority. Lien received the American Association of Periodontists Award for Outstanding Academic Achievement and the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery Award for Outstanding Achievements in Undergraduate Study and Clinical Training during her time at the School of Dentistry. After her graduation, she was inducted into Omicron Kappa Upsilon, and was recently inducted into the American College of Dentists. Lien received the Roger Fredsall Distinguished Service Award for Outstanding Service from the Minnesota Association of Orthodontists in 2013 and the Midwestern Society of Orthodontics Earl E. Shepard Distinguished Service Award in 2021. She is an active member of the Minnesota Association of Orthodontics, the Midwest Society of Orthodontics and the American Association of Orthodontics and is a 2022 inductee to the International College of Dentists.

Distinguished Dental Hygiene Alumni Award
Judy Danielson, GDH '77, BSDH '80, MSDH '13

Judy Danielson, GDH ’77, BSDH ’80, MSDH ’13, is a dental hygienist and clinical professor in the Division of Periodontology at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, where she has taught in various positions since 1999. She has also taught at the University of Colorado and Normandale Community College. Danielson is a member of the American Dental Hygienists’ Association, the American Dental Education association, the Minnesota Dental Hygienists’ Association, the Minnesota Dental Hygiene Educators’ Association and the Omicron Kappa Upsilon Dental Honor Society. Danielson is a dedicated educator whom students and colleagues trust to be a mentor and a confidant. She currently co-directs the Periodontology Technique course at the School of Dentistry with Elham Akhlaghi, DDS. In addition to her excellence in teaching and mentoring, Danielson makes it a point to engage her students in active learning, ensuring no one is left behind or disengaged. She has worked clinically and has advanced the field in research, including her involvement in a 2021 research study at the School of Dentistry to explore aerosol mitigation during ultrasonic instrumentation. She also has been recognized for her excellence in practice and education with the Ione Jackson Scholarship Award in 2009, the AkerNewell Scholarship Award in 2012 and the Thank a Teacher Project Award in 2018.

2020 Awardees

Distinguished Dental Alumni Award
Patricia Angela Rake, DDS '97

Rake is a diplomat with the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons and is a member of the Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons, the American Dental Association, and the Minnesota Dental Association. She is an avid fundraiser, biking to raise money for the Women's Foundation of Minnesota. She has served as a motivational speaker and leadership trainer. She is passionate about using safe practices in anesthesia and raising awareness regarding responsible prescribing of opioids.


Distinguished Dental Hygiene Alumni Award
Lesley Tuomi, RDH, BSDH '09

Tuomi works at NorthPoint Health and Wellness Center, a multi-specialty health center located in North Minneapolis. In her work, Tuomi focuses on serving pregnant women and children from birth to age five, spending her time seeking out grant funding to promote dental health in the North Minneapolis community. She's passionate about reaching out to schools for health screenings and follow-up care, serving patients at community events in her spare time, and finding care for patients whether her clinic is able to see them or not.

2019 awardees

Distinguished Dental Alumni Award
John Kanyusik, DDS '70, MSD '72

An extraordinary leader and role model with an unassuming demeanor, Dr. John Kanyusik has advanced the orthodontics profession through his dedication to teaching, serving patients, and volunteering.

Kanyusik received his DDS and graduate orthodontic degrees from the University of Minnesota in the early 1970’s. Following his residency, he was an orthodontist in the United States Air Force in Japan from 1972-74. He practiced orthodontics in Mankato, Minnesota from 1975 until he retired from private practice in January 2020.

Kanyusik’s distinguished career is brimming with activities that demonstrate tremendous impact. A few examples include his work as the past president of the Midwestern Society of Orthodontists, past president of the Minnesota Association of Orthodontists, past president of the College of Diplomates of the American Board of Orthodontists, and reviewer for the monthly series “Practical Reviews in Orthodontics.” An avid volunteer, Kanyusik has also dedicated his time to serving others throughout Minnesota and internationally as a teacher for Health Volunteers Overseas.

Especially notable is Kanyusik’s commitment to orthodontic resident education. He has driven from Mankato to Minneapolis since 2002 to serve as an adjunct associate professor in the Division of Orthodontics. He’s highly regarded for his expertise, teaching abilities and outstanding rapport with the residents. His belief in the power of education is further illustrated by his fundraising efforts for the Robert J. Isaacson innovation and professorship funds.

2020 is Kanyusik’s 50th graduation year from the DDS program. Although he’s phasing into retirement, he continues to treat public care patients at his practice. Dr. Kanyusik’s dedication to excellence in orthodontics and to serving patients is extraordinary.

Distinguished Dental Hygiene Alumni Award
Patt Carlson, GDH '72

Patt Carlson has devoted a lifetime of passion and energy to serving patients and to the promotion of oral health care in Minnesota. A graduate of the Program in Dental Hygiene, she served as dental hygiene faculty at the University of Minnesota in clinical settings and in public health education. For 25 years, Patt was a research examiner and research study coordinator. Most recently, in her role as the Research Study Coordinator she was involved with an interdisciplinary project studying the relationship between RA (Rheumatic and Autoimmune Diseases) and Periodontal Disease.

Patt’s dedication to her research patients is evidenced by the high level of follow-up dental care she provided. She was always willing to go above and beyond for her patients and would offer rides to research appointments for those with no means of transportation.

In 2017, Patt retired from the University. However, this was short lived as she returned in 2018 to part –time employment in dental research. She recently re-retired due to health issues. Patt set a high standard in dental hygiene and in her work with medicine and dental research. She is a shining example of how School of Dentistry alumni make the world a better place.

Additional awardees

About the Award

The Distinguished Dental and Dental Hygiene Alumni Awards are honors given annually to outstanding alumni in recognition of exceptional achievement. Candidates must be a graduate of any program of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry and are judged based on their participation, service, and leadership in the advancement of dentistry and dental health, their public service, community service, and/or civic affairs, and their dedication to continuing education.

The School of Dentistry Alumni Society Honors Task Force will review all candidates and will select the recipients for 2021, who will be presented with the award at the School of Dentistry Alumni Weekend, Fall 2022.

Nominations made within the last five years are considered active and will be considered for the 2021 awards. If you have nominated someone in the past five years and want to provide additional information, please contact the Alumni Office.


For more information about Alumni programs, please contact the Alumni Office at [email protected].