the Director, Joan RUsh

In May 2015, Allard School of Law alumna Joan Rush was named the winner of alumni UBC’s 2015 “your evolution” contest for her project Help! Teeth Hurt! The project aims to create a specialized dental clinic for developmentally disabled adults (DDAs) and originated from her earlier research report funded by the Law Foundation of BC.

Rush, a retired lawyer who received her LLB and Master of Laws degrees from the Allard School of Law, is a former adjunct professor in both the Law and Dentistry faculties and an expert in Health Law and Ethics. She initiated the report in response to a dearth of accessible dental care for DDAs in BC.

Rush’s passion for specialized dental care for DDAs arose as she realized how difficult it was to obtain adequate dental care for her autistic son, Graeme, as he got older.

Rush says that DDAs often cannot express their dental discomfort and as a result, it isn’t discovered until it is too late to correct.  Many individuals with special needs have difficulty sitting still during a dental procedure and must be placed under general anesthetic, even for a simple teeth cleaning, Rush explained. Dentists are often not equipped or trained to carry out this specialized type of care and as a result there are wait lists of two or three years to receive treatment in hospitals or specialized general anesthesia clinics.

Rush’s ambition is to improve access to dental treatment for DDAs through the creation of specialized dental clinics. Looking ahead, the goal is to establish a preliminary clinic that could also be used as a training centre to teach students how to treat patients with special needs. Her project Help! Teeth Hurt! focuses on addressing the needs of people in the Lower Mainland, but she hopes that it will become a model for other dental centres around the province.

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Dr. ben balevi, B eng,dds,dip ebch,(Oxford)Msc.

Dr. Balevi received degrees in engineering and dentistry from McGill University.  He completed his dental residency at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto while teaching and pursuing research in dental materials at the University of Toronto.  He worked as the Clinic Dentist for the Huronia Regional Centre (Orillia, Ontario) and Prince Edward Heights (Picton, Ontario) treating special needs clients before they were moved to Community Living.  Dr. Balevi completed a Master of Science degree in Clinical Epidemiology/Evidence-Based Healthcare at the University of Oxford, U.K.  He is the author of several peer-reviewed publications and has served as a peer reviewer for several scientific journals.  He currently sits on the Board of the American Dental Association Center of Evidence-Based Dentistry and the College of Dental Surgeons of B.C.  Ben has been a full-time solo private practitioner for more than 25 years.  

faith bodnar, E.D. Inclusion bc

Inclusion BC is a provincial advocacy network representing individuals, families and more than 70 BC Community Living Agencies.  As Executive Director of Inclusion BC, Faith leads the organization in developing advocacy priorities inspired by a vision of creating a world where everyone belongs.  Inclusion BC is part of the Canadian Association for Community Living, a national federation of over 400 Community, 10 Provincial and 3 Territorial Associations, which is a member of Inclusion International, an Association of over 110 countries.  Faith and her colleagues are proud to be part of a global movement pursuing a vision of inclusive communities.  

dr. brian chanpong, dds.,msc

Brian received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Southern California in 2000. He then completed a three-year, hospital-based residency and received his Masters of Science in Dental Anaesthesia from the University of Toronto. He is Past President of the American Dental Board of Anesthesiology and sits on the board of the American Dental Society of Anesthesiology. He is also the secretary for the Canadian Academy of Dental Anaesthesia and is the course director for local anaesthesia and sedation at UBC’s Faculty of Dentistry. Brian has served on the College of Dental Surgeons of BC Sedation and General Anaesthetic Services Committee (formerly Accreditation) since 2004. Brian practises in Vancouver and maintains an outpatient anaesthesia clinic that provides general anaesthesia and sedation services for dentists in the city.  

fernando coelho, ceo, posabilities

As Chief Executive Officer of PosAbilities, Fernando leads a major not-for-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that each person, regardless what their challenge might be, is assured an excellent quality of life and is fully included in neighbourhoods, communities, and society at large.  Operating throughout Vancouver, the lower BC Mainland, and Upper Fraser Valley, PosAbilities assists persons with developmental disabilities to lead meaningful and healthy lives by partnering with the community to provide a comprehensive range of person-centred services for individuals and the families who care for them.   

richard faucher, c0-e.d.,baci 

Over the past twenty years, Richard has distinguished himself as a leader and innovator at the Burnaby Association for Community Inclusion (BACI).  As a passionate advocate for the rights of people with disabilities, and more broadly for all people, Richard demonstrates the ethics, insight and integrity necessary to lead an organization that supports individuals in a community driven and humanitarian way.

His vision, values and strategic thinking abilities have benefited not only BACI, but the broader Community Living movement as well.  Richard’s commitment to finding new and creative ways to advance social inclusion is demonstrated through the array of initiatives he has organized – and the cross-sectoral partnerships he has built – regarding social finance and social innovation.  

nelly gomez

Nelly Gomez is a Registered Nurse and mother of three children who has a strong interest in human rights, social justice and health inequities research.  Nelly’s 23-year-old daughter has a significant developmental disability and requires a great deal of medical support.  Nelly believes that by working together, parents, caregivers, community agencies, health authorities, educational institutions, and dental professionals can create a specialized dental clinic that supports safety and quality of life for adults with developmental disabilities in BC.

Nelly is thrilled to be a member of the “Help! Teeth Hurt” Steering Committee and looks forward to bringing passion and commitment to her collaboration with the group and all the community partners.  

Daphne Gray-Grant

Daphne Gray-Grant is a communications consultant, writer and editor with a long-time practice in Vancouver. A former journalist and senior editor at the Vancouver Sun in the 1980s, Daphne currently works with writers around the world, including many academics, helping them learn to write faster, better. She also advises corporations and organizations on strategic communications. She blogs five times per week at and is author of the popular book 8½ Steps to Writing Faster, Better, available on her website.

Dr. Douglas H. Johnston DDS, MSc, DPed, FRCD(C) 

Dr. Johnston graduated from dentistry at the University of Toronto with a DDS in 1973 and completed his specialty training in pediatrics in 1978. He combined private practice with part time at The Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto for three years and became Director of Pediatric Dentistry for several years, becoming Dentist-in-Chief from 1997 until 2005. At that time he was recruited to BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver until 2012. During that time he also developed a Graduate Program in Pediatric Dentistry at UBC (the second in Canada) and was there to see the first cohort of students nearing completion of their three year training. He retired from active practice at the end of 2012.


Joanne Melville is a retired science educator and the mother of a multi-handicapped son.  She was a Board member of the Developmental Disabilities Association (formerly the Vancouver Richmond Association for Mentally Handicapped People) from 1989 until 2004.  She was President of the organization from 1992 until 1996 and led the Board through a very large expansion during this period in which care of mentally handicapped persons transitioned from an institutional model to a community based model. 

In 2003 she was presented with the W.J. VAN DUSEN AWARD as volunteer of the year.  This is given to an individual who best embodies the spirit of the late W.J. VanDusen, particularly his commitment to the community and to the voluntary sector.  

dr. sidney mindess

Dr. Sidney Mindess is a Professor Emeritus, Department of Civil Engineering, UBC.  He was the father of a multi-handicapped son, and through him became heavily involved in issues surrounding people with disabilities.  In particular, he became acutely aware of the extreme difficulties encountered by people with developmental delays in accessing the medical and dental systems.  Sidney was a long-time board member of PosAbilities (formerly Mainstream Association for Proactive Community Living) and served as President of the Board for a number of years.  He has also served on the Board of the BC Epilepsy Society.    

elizabeth rush

Elizabeth is a translator and academic tutor based in Vancouver. After graduating with an M.Phil in European Literature and Culture from King's College, Cambridge, she lectured on topics in translation, composition, and linguistics at the Université de Pau in the southwest of France, and founded Rush Translation Services to provide high quality translation and editing services for clients with documents in French, Spanish, or English. She currently offers one-on-one tutoring for students of French ranging from 9 to 50, and provides consulting for BC Talents from France, a non-profit organization that supports the integration of Francophones into the BC labour market. She is very interested in building support for Help! Teeth Hurt through the diffusion of information about the project via large group events and social media channels.  (website:

Yvonne Smith, dip. D.H., B.A.

Yvonne Smith is a graduate of the University of Manitoba, School of Dental Hygiene, and the University of Victoria.  Her first position was with the Children’s Hospital of Winnipeg.   After moving to Victoria she worked in private general practice and periodontal practice.  She has also lived and practiced in Courtenay, Qualicum, Whistler and Squamish.  Currently she works in community health and general practice.   After over 40 years as a dental hygienist, Yvonne has seen first-hand the barriers to dental care experienced by developmentally disabled persons.   She is an advocate in her community for those persons who need specialized hospital care.  Yvonne is a past president of the B.C. Dental Hygienists’ Association and a past chair of the College of Dental Hygienists of B.C. 

Dr. Eric Watts, M.D.

Eric Watts is a family doctor with a 28-year practice in Richmond, B.C. A graduate of UBC he did his residency in New Zealand and has travelled widely around the world. Deeply committed to public medicine, Eric has served on the Richmond Hospital Ethics Committee and the Richmond Hospital Perinatal Health Committee. In his personal life he is keen choral performer who as sung as a bass in a community choir for more than 20 years. He is also passionate about natural history and can frequently be found hiking or biking in British Columbia.