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09 February 2024

Founder and Executive Chairman of Heartland Dental to Receive 2024 Horatio Alger Award

Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc., a nonprofit educational organization honoring the achievements of outstanding individuals and encouraging youth to pursue their dreams through higher education, recently announced that Dr. Richard E. Workman, founder and executive chairman of Heartland Dental, has been selected for membership in the prestigious organization. Dr. Workman joins 10 other exceptional business, civic, and cultural leaders from across North America in receiving 2024 honors. For more than 75 years, the Horatio Alger Award has been annually bestowed upon esteemed individuals who have succeeded despite facing adversities and who have remained committed to higher education and charitable efforts in their communities.

Born into a working-class family in Illinois, Dr. Workman’s father was a farmer while his mother taught in a school nearby, instilling in him the value of hard work from a young age. Determined to succeed, Dr. Workman attended Southern Illinois University and earned his undergraduate degree in biological science, followed by his doctorate in dental medicine, which put him on the path to his impressive career today.

In 1980, Dr. Workman set out to practice dentistry without knowing the impact he’d make on the industry over the next several decades. Opening his first dental office in Effingham, Illinois, he saw patients for 55 hours a week and spent an additional 30 hours managing the operations of the business. It did not take long for Dr. Workman to realize there had to be a better way for him and other dentists to practice. In 1982, he pioneered the concept of high-quality, non-clinical administrative support for dentists, which led to the birth of Heartland Dental. Heartland Dental is now a world-class dental support organization that provides services to over 2,800 practitioners in 39 states – and is continuing to grow each year. A leader in the industry, Dr. Workman has been named Entrepreneur of the Year by Ernst and Young and the second most influential person in dentistry by Incisal Edge Magazine. He also helped establish the Association of Dental Support Organizations (ADSO), a nonprofit that enables dentists to focus on patients and expand access to dental care while maintaining high standards and professional ethics.

“We are delighted to welcome Dr. Workman as a lifetime Member,” said Terrence J. Giroux, executive director, Horatio Alger Association. “From 85-hour work weeks as a dentist to dedicating his time to giving back to other current and future dentists, his journey exemplifies our Association’s core values – perseverance, honesty, and determination. I have no doubt that Dr. Workman will set an incredible example for our Scholars and become a key resource in their educational paths.”

A firm believer in the importance of supporting the next generation of great leaders, Dr. Workman enjoys spending time speaking to aspiring dentists across the country. He donated $32 million to aid in the establishment of the Workman School of Dental Medicine at High Point University, where he also serves as the Innovator in Residence and a member of the school’s inaugural Board of Advisors. Motivated by helping others, Dr. Workman takes pride in his ability to give back and be a resource to students who also come from underserved backgrounds.

“I’ve long been inspired by the mission of the Horatio Alger Association, and I’m honored to join its esteemed membership,” said Dr. Richard Workman. “I firmly believe in the importance of higher education, but also understand that its cost puts it out of reach for many deserving students across the country today. That’s why the work of the Association is so important. I’m eager to meet the incredible Scholars and support them on their journeys as they strive to achieve their goals.”

2024 marks the 40th year that the Association has awarded annual need-based scholarships to high school students who have displayed dedication to pursuing higher education despite significant obstacles throughout their lives. The Association, which aims to preserve and protect the American Dream for future generations, also seeks to educate young people about the endless opportunities available by the free-enterprise system through commitment, honesty, and diligence. The scholarships are made possible thanks to the generosity of Horatio Alger Members, who will have collectively provided more than $245 million to over 35,000 students.

“It is our utmost honor to present the Horatio Alger Award to these 11 outstanding leaders who have exemplified perseverance, passion, and a deep appreciation for higher education,” said James F. Dicke II, chairman, Horatio Alger Association and 2015 Horatio Alger Award recipient. “These influential leaders not only spearhead their own businesses, but they give generously to causes, organizations, and communities in need. Our 2024 awardees embody the Association’s mission and are proof that the American Dream is within reach for anyone who seeks it.”

Dr. Richard Workman and the Member Class of 2024 will be formally inducted into the Association on April 4-6, 2024, during the Association’s annual Horatio Alger Award Induction Ceremonies in Washington, D.C. The three-day event is an annual ceremony to honor both the achievements of Members and National Scholars, who will have multiple opportunities to meet, interact, and exchange stories of perseverance.

About Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans

Founded in 1947, the Horatio Alger Association of Distinguished Americans, Inc. is dedicated to the simple but powerful belief that hard work, honesty, and determination can conquer all obstacles. The Association honors the achievements of outstanding leaders who have accomplished remarkable successes in spite of adversity by bestowing upon them the Horatio Alger Award and inducting them as lifetime Members.

Horatio Alger Members support promising young people with the resources and confidence needed to overcome adversity in pursuit of their dreams through higher education. Through the generosity of its Members and friends, in 2023, the Association awarded more than $18 million in undergraduate and graduate need-based scholarships to 1,800 students across the United States and Canada, and provided college support and mentoring services to its Scholars. Over the past 40 years, more than $245 million has been awarded in undergraduate, graduate, military veteran, and career and technical education scholarships to more than 35,000 deserving students.

Source: www.horatioalger.org

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