Ambassadors are a distinguised group of dentists whose commitment to better oral health has made a dramatic and lasting difference in under-served communities

  • Bridget Burris

    (Las Cruses, New Mexico)

    Dr. Burris graduated from Baylor University College of Dentistry with her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1985, and then began practicing general dentistry in Las Cruces. Prior to receiving her degree in dentistry, she graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from New Mexico State University in 1981.

    During that time she was also a graduate research assistant at Los Alamos National Laboratory. She has undergone extensive postgraduate training and has completed study at The Dawson Academy, The Pankey Institute for Advanced Dental Education, and Spear Education. Dr. Burris takes a special interest in cosmetic dentistry and restorative dentistry and uses modern tools and techniques to create life-changing smiles.

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  • Jerrod Cornehl

    Dr. Jarrod Cornehl is a graduate of Texas A&M University and completed his Doctorate of Dental Surgery degree at the top-rated University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio in 2002.

    He graduated with honors and received awards for excellence in clinical and aesthetic dentistry. Dr. Cornehl has extensive training in rehabilitations and aesthetics, and is an active member of the Spear Faculty Club at the prestigious Spear Education with margin leftn Institute in Scottsdale, AZ, where colleagues come together to share the journey of lifelong learning and professional growth.

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  • Jim Fay

    Dr. Fay graduated from Dalhousie University as a Doctor of Dental Surgery (DDS). He moved to Bermuda, where he founded Paget Dental Group.

    Additionally, Dr. Day is committed to staying on the cutting edge of patient care and technology regarding cosmetic and restorative dentistry. Every year, he travels across the country to further his knowledge in general dental services, laser techniques, with margin leftand cosmetic smile makeovers. He has personally been trained by dentists such as Dr. Frank Spear (Spear Faculty Study Club, Scottsdale, AZ), and a host of other renowned leaders in the dental care profession.

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  • Paul Giotopoulos

    Dr. Giotopoulos received his Doctor of Dental Surgery from SUNY at Buffalo School of Dental Medicine, Buffalo, NY, minoring in both Pediatric Dentistry and Oral Pathology.

    Dr. Giotopoulos has been a practicing dentist for over 15 years. Over that time, he has received many awards including the Richard A. Powell Award, American Student Dental Association Award of Excellence, Fonzi Dental Study Club Anthony S. Gugino Humanitarian Award, Pierre Forchaud Scholarship, National Defense Ribbon, several Army commendations, Good Conduct Medal, Non Commissioned Officers Development Ribbon, Primary Leadership Development Course Commandants Leadership Award to name a few.

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  • Ryan Guggenheim

    (St. Paul, Minnesota)

    Ryan Guggenheim was appointed in 2016 to be the Youth Ambassador for the Open Wide Foundation by its Board of Directors. During his first trip to Guatemala in March 2016, Ryan participated in celebrating local partners, was interviewed by a local television station on the importance of youth involvement in humanitarian efforts, and was included in discussions with Guatemalan President Jimmy Morales and the office of the First Lady. Ryan also met with Edwin Escobar, the mayor of Villa Nueva, where the clinic is located. In addition, Ryan worked alongside dentists and oral surgeons in the clinic, assisting in dental procedures. Ryan’s next trip is planned for summer 2017.

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  • Everett Heringer

    Dr. Heringer graduated from Northwestern University School of Dentistry in Chicago, and went on to serve as a Navy dentist for two years at Camp Pendleton, California. He moved back to his home state of North Dakota, where he founded Heringer Dentistry. Continually bringing his patients the latest advancements in the field, he is the first in the area to offer Waterlase laser technology, an alternative to the drill.

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  • Jeffery Hicks

    (San Antonio, Texas)

    Jeff Hicks “El Jefe” has been instrumental in the planning, preparation and execution of Special Care dentistry patient services and on the job training for local Guatemalan providers.

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  • Bergen James

    Dr. Bergen James is a native Californian, born and raised in San Diego, California.

    Dr. James received her Bachelor of Science in Biology from the University of California, Davis. She continued on to the University of California, San Francisco where she received her Doctor of Dental Surgery degree. She completed her pediatric dental residency at Harvard and Boston Children’s Hospital, where she served as Chief Resident.

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  • Michael Johnson

    (Mesa, Arizona)

    Dr. Johnson earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Zoology at Brigham Young University. He then went on to attend the University of Minnesota Dental School where he graduated in 1984.

    Mike has been a sole practitioner for over thirty years in Mesa, Arizona and has maintained a career long commitment to continuing education, mentoring and dental volunteering including: Peru, Belize, Guatemala, Mexico and Honduras. Dr. Johnson currently serves as Visiting Faculty at SPEAR Education, Co-Chairman of the Mesa SPEAR Dental Study Club and as Director on the Open Wide Foundation Board.

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  • Jim Merriman

    (Marietta, Georgia)

    Dr. James Merriman graduated with honors from the University of Georgia with a Bachelors Degree in Chemistry in 1976. He earned a Doctor of Dental Medicine Degree from the Medical College of Georgia in 1980. He has been in private practice in Marietta since 1982 at Kennestone Gates near Kennestone Hospital.

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  • Arshad Mirza

    (Belle River, Ontario Canada)

    Dr. Mirza is married to fellow dentist Mrs. Maha Mirza DDS and they have two daughters, Maycee (20) and Denise (18). Dr. Mirza has made multiple trips for a week at a time serving in the clinic performing dental procedures to the local population and teaching dental residents through hands on cases. Family members like his daughter Maycee has joined him on the trips and been a tremendous help serving patients as well.

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  • Matt O'Shea

    With a focus on cosmetic and restorative dentistry, Dr. Matt O’Shea has been practicing in downtown Decatur since the summer of 2005 after graduating from the University of Louisville and receiving a B.S. Biology degree from the University of Georgia in 2000.

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  • W.Lee Payne

    (Fairbanks, Alaska)

    Dr. Lee Payne is a leading dentist in Fairbanks, AK area, providing diagnosis, prevention and treatment for a full spectrum of dental needs.

    As a visiting faculty member of SPEAR Education, Dr. Payne was both an initial financial supporter for the formation of a sustainable oral health care model and lead one the first groups to provide a week of dental service after the inauguration of the permanent clinic in Peronia, Guatemala.

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  • Robert Pearce

    (Point Richmond, California)

    Dr. Robert Pearce earned his Bachelor’s degree in Music from the University of Miami in 1981, worked in the music industry for five years, and then went on to graduate in 1990 from the University of the Pacific School of Dentistry in California. He’s been in full time private practice in the San Francisco bay area for twenty five years and has maintained a career long commitment to continuing education. He currently serves as a visiting faculty mentor at SPEAR Education and as a member of the Education Development Committee of the Open Wide Foundation.

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  • George Plancich

    (Tacoma, Washington)

    Dr. Plancich is a Tacoma native that attended Woodrow Wilson High School where he excelled both academically and athletically.

    With a bachelor’s degree in Physiology from University of Washington, he entered dental school at the University of Washington. Dr. Plancich received his Doctor of Dental Surgery in 1989 and graduated in the top ten of of his class with Prosthodontic Honors (crowns, veneers, bridges, and implants). During his dental training, he was selected to receive advanced training in implant dentistry, participated in special research programs and was appointed a faculty assistant at his alma mater.

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  • Rebecca Schaffer

    (Phoenix, Arizona)

    Dr. Schaffer (Dr. Rebecca) is the owner and primary dentist at Sundance Dental Care. She is also an adjunct professor at the Arizona School of Dentistry & Oral Health (ASDOH), where she teaches dentistry for people with special needs.

    In addition to being an expert general dentist, she is especially skilled at managing the connection between the mouth and body. She is also expert at treating patients with medically complex conditions, which covers the spectrum of patients with diabetes, heart conditions, blood disorders, developmental and cognitive issues, neuro-muscular diseases, etc.

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  • Johanna Tesoniero

    (Scottsdale, Arizona)

    Dr. Tes serves as an Ambassador is so many regards. She was an integral part of the initial team who helped design the model clinic for Open Wide in Peronia, Guatemala. She also served as a translator in important business and legal transactions between Open Wide and the local Government and University as well as translations for videos and documents.

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  • Rick Timm

    (Oakdale, MN)

    Dr. Richard Timm has a vision and a passion for providing extraordinary care and service for his patients. He strives to provide the best information available to help patients be well informed of what modern dentistry has to offer.

    When growing up in North St. Paul and Maplewood, attending North St. Paul Sr. High School and the University of Minnesota Institute of Technology, Dr. Timm realized the importance of being involved with and volunteering in his community. His dedication to community is in a league with the care and service provided by his practice to his patients.

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  • Peter Virga

    Dr. Virga is devoted to lifelong learning and providing impeccable care with integrity and sensitivity for his patients. After attending Georgetown University School of Dentistry, Dr. Virga has trained with some of the finest minds in dentistry today. He has studied extensively at the world-renowned SPEAR Education Scottsdale Center for Dentistry. His personal mentor is the CEO of the Scottsdale Center, Imtiaz Manji, universally considered a true visionary in dental education

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