Awards

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 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

2022 MDA Honorees

Michael Kurkowski, D.D.S. – Guest of Honor
Levi Bursch, D.D.S. – New Dentist Leadership Award
Stephen Litton, D.D.S. – Humanitarian Service Award
Grant & Maureen Sorensen, D.D.S. – Outstanding Service Award
Teresa Fong D.D.S. – President’s Award (2021)

Past Recipients

Michael Kurkowshi, D.D.S.

2022 MDA Guest of Honor

Dr. Michael Kurkowski has served organized dentistry steadily and devotedly since his 1982 graduation from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.  Having been active on numerous MDA committees, including the Dental Marketplace Committee, Constitution, Bylaws and Ethics Committee, Peer Review Committee, Minnesota Mission of Mercy Committee, and the former Dental Practice Act Committee, he continues to volunteer his time and talents as a member of the MDA’s Editorial Advisory Board, Resolution Review Committee, and Minnesota Dental Foundation. In addition, Dr. Kurkowski was a SPDDS delegate to the MDA’s House of Delegates for many years and was Speaker of the House for seven years.

A past president of the Saint Paul District Dental Society, Dr. Kurkowski has been a member of their Ethics Committee (for which he also served as president), Foundation Committee, Midwinter Committee, and Peer Review Committee. Additionally, Dr. Kurkowsi has been a delegate from the MDA to the ADA House of Delegates and served on the ADA’s Council of Ethics, Bylaws, and Judicial Affairs (CEBJA) for several years.

Dr. Kurkowski, along with his wife Marcia, are resolute volunteers; they are particularly dedicated to the planning and execution of the yearly Minnesota Dental Foundation Gala. Although no gala was held in 2020 or 2021 due to the COVID pandemic, they have already begun work in helping to plan the 2022 event, which is scheduled to be held on October 7th. The Gala has become the premier social event of the MDA, and helps raise funds for the many programs and entities that the Foundation supports, including Give Kids a Smile, the Minnesota Mission of Mercy, and the Martha Mordini Rukavina Loan Forgiveness Program, to name a few.

Having practiced at his own office in Roseville for over 30 years, Dr. Kurkowski retired from dentistry in 2015. This has freed up his time to do even more volunteering — as well as a little traveling with Marcia, both of whom recently returned from a well-deserved vacation in Florida shortly before their son Daniel’s wedding.

The MDA congratulates Dr. Michael Kurkowski on being selected as the 2022 Guest of Honor.

Levi Bursch, D.D.S.

2022 New Dentist Leadership Award

Dr. Levi Bursch has contributed to the success of organized dentistry since his time at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.

An active participant in the American Student Dental Association (ASDA),  Dr. Bursch participated in both the MDA and ADA lobby days at the Minnesota State Capitol and at the United States Capitol, respectively. He continues to be involved in Northeastern District Dental Society (NEDDS) legislative events, including a Zoom meeting in 2021 with Minnesota legislators, and is a leader on the NEDDS New Dentist Committee.

Since earning his D.D.S. degree in 2019, Dr. Bursch has deepened his involvement with organized dentistry, working to recruit new dentists into the ADA, MDA, and NEDDS. Through his ingenuity, he has been able to “rally the troops” and get a substantial percentage of NEDDS’ new dentists excited about tripartite membership. He was able to help organize a new dentist event that had 15 new dentist participants, where they discussed what organized dentistry can do for them and their patients. In addition, Dr. Bursch helped organize a highly successful Yeti mug drive, spearheading the delivery of 50 mugs with the NEDDS logo on them to other new dentists in the district.

Requesting funds from the NEDDS Executive Council, Dr. Bursch was granted over $500 for an additional event that was unfortunately postponed because of the COVID pandemic. He was still able to keep the momentum going, though, through his diligent efforts in engaging with other colleagues to recruit New Dentist Committee members.

NEDDS has directly benefited from Dr. Bursch’s charismatic personality and unique ability to draw members in and educate them on the importance and relevance of organized dentistry; since joining the NEDDS himself, Dr. Bursch has helped bring in an average of 10 new members per year.

Dr. Bursch met his wife, Dr. Ellen “Ellie” Bursch, while they were in dental school at the University of Minnesota, marrying following their graduation. The Burschs reside in Duluth and welcomed their first child in February of this year.

The MDA is pleased to honor Dr. Levi Bursch with the 2022 New Dentist Leadership Award.

Stephen Litton, D.D.S.

2022 Humanitarian Service Award

Born in Brooklyn, New York, Dr. Stephen Litton relocated to Saint Paul, Minnesota as a young boy with his family. Eventually, his collegiate journey brought him to Minneapolis to study at the University of Minnesota.

It was at the University of Minnesota that he earned his many professional degrees, including a Bachelor of Arts and a Bachelor of Science with Distinction; a Doctor of Dental Surgery degree; a certificate in orthodontics; and a Ph.D. in Anatomy. This was all accomplished within a 12-year time span.

Dr. Litton has been a member of numerous MDA committees, perhaps most notably participating on the board of the Minnesota Dental Foundation for the past 19 years, serving as their president since 2011.  Under his leadership, the Foundation’s assets have grown to over $2 million and, in collaboration with other foundations, has provided over $5 million in dental care to children and adults in need. He also devotes his time to serving on the Boards of the Community Dental Care clinics and the Smiles Change Lives program, and was on the Board of the Doorstep Health Care Services until it closed in 2020 due to COVID.

While Dr. Litton spent the majority of his career at his private orthodontic dental practice in Minneapolis and Golden Valley, he remained actively involved at the University of Minnesota, serving as an educator and on several of their fund-raising projects.

Dr. Litton has been a member of many associations and societies related to his profession, receiving multiple awards and honors for his efforts. Within the tripartite association, he was MDDS Guest of Honor in 2005, and he has been the recipient of almost every award the MDA has to offer – the only exception being the New Dentist Award – including their Outstanding Service Award in 2002, their President’s Award in 2006, and as their Guest of Honor in 2015, and he is the only person in the history of the MDA to receive all of these honors.  These are just a few of the accolades he has received during his career.

The MDA is pleased to honor Dr. Stephen Litton with their 2022 Humanitarian Service Award.

Grant & Maureen Sorensen, D.D.S.

2022 Outstanding Service Award

Drs. Grant and Maureen Sorensen have been involved in organized dentistry for 37 years. After their 1984 graduation from the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry, they started their own dental practice in Worthington and have been leaders in the Southern District Dental Society (SDDS) and the Minnesota Dental Association ever since.   They both have, at separate times, served on the SDDS Executive council and as the Southern District trustee to the MDA Board of Trustees.

The Sorensens have both served on various MDA committees, including the former Dental Practice and Operations Committee, the Legislative Affairs Committee, the Barriers to Care Committee, the Affinity Products Committee (Maureen), and the Constitution, Bylaws and Ethics Committee (Grant).  They have also been volunteers for the annual Give Kids a Smile event and several Mission of Mercy events.

With their daughter joining the Southern District Dental Society, 2022 marks 117 years of continual dental service to Southwest Minnesota by the Sorensens and their ancestors.  Dr. Maureen Sorensen is the third generation of what is now a four-generation family of dentists. Her grandfather, Dr. Charles A. McGuiggan, and father, Dr. Charles F. McGuiggan were both dentists in Marshall, and now Grant and Maureen’s daughter, Christina Sorensen, is practicing in Mankato.

The Sorensens decided to retire from dentistry in 2021, but not before years of working to recruit dentists to their rural, southwest Minnesota area.  They have mentored many young dentists and have organized countless district events through the years, making sure each district member received an invitation. They were the first ones to contact committee members and enlist their involvement in creating innovative ideas for the district’s fall and winter meetings. The Southern District representative who nominated the Drs. Sorensen for this award, wrote: “They have been the two most important people in the district over the last 20 years in sustaining organized dentistry within our district.”

The Minnesota Dental Association is honored to award Drs. Grant and Maureen McGuiggan Sorensen with the 2022 Outstanding Service Award.

Teresa Fong, D.D.S.

2021 President’s Award

Each year, the MDA president has the honor of choosing an individual whom he or she believes stands out amongst all others. The president carefully considers the numerous services each member has provided to the Association and to the profession and chooses accordingly.

Dr. Jim Nickman, 2020-2021 MDA president, chose Dr. Teresa Fong as his honoree, and had this to say about his decision:

“Dr. Teresa Fong is a person who ideally embodies a member of organized dentistry. She has been a great mentor to numerous newer members of our profession and has been a tremendous ambassador, showing the value of membership and of being active in the Minnesota Dental Association.

Always willing to step up to the plate and contribute her time, talent, and treasure, Dr. Fong has been extremely active in the Minneapolis District and the MDA, serving on numerous committees as well as on the MDA Board of Trustees. Dr. Fong has also been actively involved in her specialty organization and currently serves on the board of their charitable foundation.

Dr. Fong is an excellent dentist and an individual of tremendous character.  She has been an incredible and ethical advocate for patients to ensure they have access to the care that is needed. She has and will continue to touch many lives and will leave a lasting impact on our profession.”

Earning her D.D.S. degree from the University of Tennessee College of Dentistry and her specialty certificate in pediatric dentistry from the University of Kentucky College of Dentistry, Dr. Fong came to the Twin Cities area in November of 1988. She has served as an adjunct clinical faculty member at the University Minnesota School of Dentistry and was instrumental in helping to raise the funds for the Pediatric Dental Residency Clinic. With a sincere heart for the welfare of children, she has been a tireless volunteer for Give Kids A Smile, MnMOM, and Hope Dental Clinic.

Dr. Fong, who received the MDA Humanitarian Service Award in 2015, recently retired from the practice of pediatric dentistry.

The MDA congratulates Dr. Teresa Fong on being selected as the 2021 MDA President’s Award recipient.