Gold StarThe MDA regularly honors members of the dental profession who have given back to their communities and their profession in ways that are exemplary. Each year the MDA recognizes five members for their commitment to the field of dentistry and to the association, based on nominations made by the district dental societies. View this handout for further information, eligibility and entry guideline requirements.

Award Nomination Form

Candidate Nomination Form

Board of Dentistry Nomination Form


2018 MDA Honorees

James Zenk, D.D.S. – Guest of Honor
Jeffrey Remakel, D.D.S. – New Dentist Leadership Award
John Lueth, D.D.S. – Humanitarian Service Award
Michael Kurkowski, D.D.S. – Outstanding Service Award
Alejandro Aguirre, D.D.S. – President’s Award

Past Recipients

James Zenk, D.D.S.

2018 MDA Guest of Honor

Dr. James Zenk has admirably served the profession of dentistry during his nearly 40-year professional career.
A graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, Dr. Zenk earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1979. Since that time, his commitment to organized dentistry has been an inspiration to all who know him. He has built solid relationships with new dentists, encouraging them to become a part of organized dentistry, bringing three of them into his own practice and helping them to ownership positions. In addition, Dr. Zenk has hosted a rural dentistry evening for third and fourth year dental students so they could learn more about being a dentist in a rural setting.

Dr. Zenk has a deep compassion for all people and especially loves helping his patients with their oral health needs. With his attention to detail and superb listening and clinical skills, he has brought a high standard of quality oral health care to west central Minnesota, teaching good oral health care at schools and senior facilities in the Montevideo area.

Always ready to accept leadership roles, Dr. Zenk served on the West Central District Dental Society (WCDDS), MDA, and ADA levels, and within various organizations within his community. He has been WCDDS president, MDA Trustee for the WCDDS, MDA president, ADA 10th District Trustee, and a board member of the World Dental Federation (FDI, or Fédération Dentaire Internationale). In addition, he is a trombonist in his community’s band, a member of his church choir and council, a member of the hospital board, a board member of the Montevideo Foundation, past president of the Kiwanis, past president of the Chamber of Commerce, past president of Our Saviors Lutheran Church, and past president of Ducks unlimited. In addition, Dr. Zenk served on the MDA’s former Rural Dental Workforce Solutions and Rural Healthcare Committees, and on the Legislative Affairs Committee.

Dr. Zenk has previously been awarded the Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, and is a Fellow of the American and International College of Dentists. He and his wife Sonja reside in Montevideo and enjoy visiting with their children and grandchildren, and raising and training their American quarter horses.

The MDA is proud to honor Dr. James Zenk as the 2018 Guest of Honor.

Jeffrey Remakel, D.D.S.

2018 New Dentist Leadership Award

Dr. Jeffrey Remakel has been an outstanding contributor to the success of organized dentistry since his time at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.

Active in several activities while a dental student, Dr. Remakel received a number of awards, including the 2010 University of Minnesota Alumni Association’s Student Volunteer of the Year Award, the 2010 Pierre Fauchard Academy Leadership Scholarship Award, the 2011 American College of Dentists Outstanding Student Leader Award, and the 2011 Mellor R. Holland Student Achievement Award. He became a member of the ADA and the MDA during his first year of dental school in 2007, and was elected class president in 2011.

Since earning his DDS degree in 2011, Dr. Remakel has deepened his involvement with the MDA, the Minneapolis District, and his community. Currently chair of the MDA Membership Committee, he also serves on the Membership Committee of the Minneapolis District. He is a member of the MDA New Dentist Committee; helps organize and run new dentist events for both the Minneapolis District and the MDA; is the Dental Director of the Dental Sleep Program at Park Dental in Saint Louis Park and is a member of their Laboratory Work Group; volunteers at the Minnesota Mission of Mercy in restorative dentistry; and is a speaker at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry’s new dentist panels.

Additionally, Dr. Remakel has volunteered at Give Kids a Smile events and, from 2012-2016, served as a Minneapolis District delegate to the MDA House of Delegates.

A Fellow of the American College of Dentists, Dr. Remakel is married and recently became a new father. He and his wife love playing with their son and their golden-doodle puppy and, in their limited free time, enjoy traveling.

The MDA is pleased to honor Dr. Jeffrey Remakel with the 2018 New Dentist Leadership Award.

John Lueth, D.D.S.

2018 Humanitarian Service Award

Dr. John Lueth, a 1983 graduate of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, has gone above and beyond to serve his community throughout his entire dental career.

Dr. Lueth, who is a devoted Rotarian, has demonstrated a true commitment to improving access to dental care for at-risk populations, particularly those residing in northwestern Minnesota.  In January 2009, the doors opened to Bemidji’s nonprofit Northern Dental Access Center (NDAC), a project on which Dr. Lueth worked tirelessly to help found. The Rotary Club, a service organization whose mission is to “provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through its fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders,” sponsored NDAC in its start-up.  The NDAC is now funded by over twenty-five organizations. Serving as the NDAC’s president for seven years, Dr. Lueth remained on their board of directors until recently.

Dr. Lueth has served on many boards and committees within various organizations, including HeadStart, the Headwaters Dental Society, and Ducks Unlimited.  He is a member of the National Ski Patrol, and has helped make Bemidji’s annual Dragon Board Festival a success year after year.

At the Northwestern District Dental Society, Dr. Lueth served as president, delegate to the MDA House of Delegates, and trustee to the MDA Board of Trustees. Currently, after being on the MDA Editorial Advisory Board for many years, he is serving as executive editor of Northwest Dentistry journal. Dr. Lueth has also served on the former MDA Community Service, Public Relations, and Rural Healthcare Committees, and on the Dental Education Committee.

Dr. Lueth has been a regular volunteer for the MN Mission of Mercy (MnMOM), offering his leadership and donating hours of hands-on dentistry to the most vulnerable. He has made numerous trips to Honduras, freely giving his time and expertise there, as well, to those in desperate need of dental care.

The MDA is honored to present Dr. John Lueth with the 2018 Humanitarian Service Award.

Michael Kurkowski, D.D.S.

2018 Outstanding Service Award

Dr. Michael Kurkowski graduated from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry in 1982 and has been actively involved in organized dentistry ever since. He has worked tirelessly on the national, state and district levels for much of that time, all the while practicing general dentistry near his childhood home until his retirement in 2015.

From 2004 to 2011, Dr. Kurkowski served as MDA Speaker of the House, and currently serves as chairperson of the MDA Constitution, Bylaws, and Ethics Committee. He is leading that committee in its continuing efforts to update the MDA Bylaws so that they will be more in sync with those of the American Dental Association. Dr. Kurkowski served on the MDA Dental Marketplace Committee and, for the past several years, has also served on the Minnesota Dental Foundation Board of Directors as its treasurer, and as a member of the MDA Resolution Review Committee.

Throughout the years, Dr. Kurkowski has also shared his time and talents with the Saint Paul District Dental Society (SPDDS), serving as a member and chair of their Ethics Committee, Foundation Committee, Midwinter Committee, and Peer Review Committee. Additionally, Dr. Kurkowski served on the SPDDS Executive Council and is a past president (1995) of the SPDDS. Personable, engaging and thoughtful, he is a long-time member of the Saint Paul District Speaker’s Bureau. Dr. Kurkowski has also been a delegate to both the MDA and ADA Houses of Delegates. In 2014, he was the SPDDS’ Outstanding Service Award honoree.

On the national level, Dr. Kurkowski serves on the ADA’s Council on Ethics Bylaws and Judicial Affairs (CEBJA) and is a Fellow of the American College of Dentists.

Dr. Kurkowski has extensive volunteer experience, working with Give Kids a Smile and Children’s Dental Health Day, and at the Minnesota State Fair dental education booth when the MDA had a presence there.

In 2011, at the MDA House of Delegates meeting, Dr. Tim Flor announced that he had chosen Dr. Kurkowski as his MDA President’s Award recipient, citing his “deep appreciation to Dr. Kurkowski for his exemplary service to the profession.”

The Minnesota Dental Association is now honored to award Dr. Michael Kurkowski with the 2018 Outstanding Service Award.

Alejandro Aguirre, D.D.S.

2017 President’s Award

Each year the current MDA President has the distinct honor of choosing the one member whom he or she believes stands out amongst all others. Always a challenging decision to make, the president nevertheless carefully considers the various services each member has provided to the association and to the profession, and chooses accordingly. At the 2017 MDA House of Delegates meeting, Dr. Kevin Dens announced his decision to honor Dr. Alejandro Aguirre with his President’s Award.

Dr. Aguirre, a native of Mexico, graduated from Universidad Nacional de Mexico in 1987. Shortly thereafter, he came to the United States to enroll in the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry’s endodontics programs, graduating from there in 1992. Moving to Missouri, Dr. Aguirre taught at the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Dentistry where, five years later, after taking advantage of their foreign trained faculty program, he earned his U. S. dental degree.

A member of the ADA, the MDA, and the Saint Paul District Dental Society (SPDDS), Dr. Aguirre has admirably, and extensively, served all three levels of our tripartite, including: as a member of the ADA Council of Membership; as a consultant on the ADA Board of Trustees Diversity Inclusion Committee; as an MDA Trustee from the Minneapolis District Dental Society (MDDS); as chair of the MDA International Dentist Subcommittee; as chair of the MDA Membership Committee, of which he is currently a member; as State Lead of the MnMOM Committee; as a board member of MINDENPAC; as a member of the MDA Urban Safety Net and Peer Review Committees; as MDDS president (2009-2010); and as a member of the SPDDS Peer Review Committee.

Dr. Aguirre served as president of the Minnesota Association of Endodontists and as a member of the American Association of Endodontists’ Government Affairs Committee. He is currently a board member of America’s Dentists Care Foundation (ADCF) which supports Mission of Mercy. In 2012, he received special recognition at the MDA House of Delegates for his extraordinary work in organizing the Minnesota Mission of Mercy project.

In addition to his degrees in dentistry, Dr. Aguirre is a graduate of the ADA Institute for Diversity in Leadership and the ADA/Kellogg Management Programs. He is a Fellow of the American College of Dentists, the International College of Dentistry, and the Pierre Fauchard Academy

Dr. Aguirre and his wife Laura reside in Plymouth. They love spending time with their daughter Andrea, and going to Minnesota Twins games (because the man really, really loves baseball).

The MDA congratulates Dr. Alejandro Aguirre on his selection as the 2017 President’s Award recipient.