Content Dam Rdh Print Articles Volume37 Issue5 Liz Graham 1

Listening to the KOLs: Liz Graham assembles a speaker lineup consisting of key opinion leaders

May 1, 2017
Ann-Marie DePalma, RDH, reviews courses managed by Liz Graham, who will recruit a speaker from among key opinion leaders in dentistry.

By Ann-Marie DePalma RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH

Continuing education in most states is required for license renewal. Whether live in-person, through home study, or through online courses, a dental professional has a variety of choices to obtain the state requirements for CE. As dental hygienists, we are exposed to a variety of programs given by key opinion leaders (KOLs) within our profession. If you were able to participate in a program given by a dental hygiene KOL, would you? Elizabeth Graham, RDH, has assembled a group of KOLs who provide interactive, fun, educational continuing education programs for not only hygienists but entire dental teams.

Her company, Liz Graham Presents, offers cutting-edge, evidence-based, in-person continuing education from a group of respected dental hygiene KOLs, including Trisha O’Hehir, RDH, MS; Susan Wingrove, RDH, BS; Colleen Rutledge, RDH; Karen Davis, RDH, BSDH; and Debra Grant, RDH, MA. Each KOL provides practical information in small group settings, allowing a connection with each participant that may not be provided in larger, lecture style venues. When participants’ eyes light up with the “ah ha” moment, the room is alive with excitement and noise from KOLs and participants’ conversations and sharing. That is the essence of Liz’s programs.

Trisha O’Hehir’s program, Achieve Health in 5mm Pockets that Bleed, presents an out-of-the-box perspective on the ongoing challenges of decay and periodontal disease. She also presents a program on sleep disordered breathing, since hygienists play a critical role in assisting patients with sleep apnea symptoms.

Susan Wingrove delves into defining peri-implant maintenance using the touch-and-teach technique. Colleen Rutledge provides a blueprint for implementing a periodontal protocol with takeaway jewels from her consulting and clinical practice. Karen Davis and Deb Grant provide diverse and inspiring programs on biofilms, air polishing, and oral-systemic links as well.

Liz has created seminars that provide the skills and knowledge that are not basic hygiene 101 programs. Her speakers present different styles and programs, but all are complementary.

Elizabeth Graham, RDH

Liz Graham Presents programs are for the entire team. Liz believes that since the hygiene department is the backbone of successful dental practices, all team members need to be functioning as one. Having the dentist attend strengthens the connection between the clinical team and the business team of any practice. Trying to provide a 7-hour program in a 15-minute review during a team meeting is impossible. For the team to fully become a seamless, productive practice, everyone needs to hear the same message at the same time.

The programs introduce “outside the box” thinking for everyone to consider while introducing new technologies and products that enhance patient care. One dentist participant in a program stated, “Understanding the benefit the hygiene team offers to patients as well as the understanding the entire team gains regarding the mechanism and benefits of products the hygienists are recommending can only be accomplished with the entire team, dentist included, attending the program together.”

All of the programs include handouts to enhance the experience of the presentation. Liz prefers the program slides to be included in the handouts, but she allows the speakers to make the final decision as to what to include. The speakers provide energy that encourages a fun learning environment. From mingling with participants during the continental breakfast to supporting conversations during the presentations, they make the learning comfortable and keep participants engaged.

Working in her dad’s dental practice as an assistant, Liz knew at age 11 that she wanted to be a dental hygienist. She attended the University of Michigan and spent time in Switzerland practicing dental hygiene and traveling. Life landed her in California and she found the need for personal empowerment after experiencing the California dental hygiene job market. She started Graham Placement Agency, an employment agency for hygienists and dentists.

Another hygienist, Jim Southard, RDH, encouraged her to become active in their local ADHA component where she moved into the vice president position in 2000. One of the duties of the component VP was to organize their continuing education schedule. She learned valuable lessons and skills through the education and networking that comes from membership. She took these skills and decided to offer continuing education through her agency. She hired her mentor and friend, Trisha O’Hehir to present in the area. Trisha then encouraged her to go national and in 2017, Liz Graham Presents is now offering programs internationally. Teamwork, trust, curiosity, and leaps of faith can take anyone to places they never dreamed!

Liz is passionate about beauty, whether a beautiful home or a piece of art. She thrives on nature at the beach or walking outdoors. Movement is important to her, especially since she has seen disease limit her brother’s movement. Traveling is another passion - she works to travel! A patient of her father’s, Mrs. D.C. Green, always had a story about where she had been and that inspired Liz to want a story for herself. Seeing, hearing, and feeling foreign environments soothes and inspires her.

Her husband and family are also her inspirations. She feels she is tenacious, friendly, and intense, but when she asked her husband what he feels are three words that describe her, he said “intelligent, beautiful, and hard-working.”

She knows hygienists are passionate about the patient experience and outcomes. She considers a hygiene procedure to be on par with a spa experience: soothing, healing, and fun! Liz enjoys seeing the excitement build in the guests at her programs when an idea from one of the speakers inspires them. She dislikes it when, for whatever reason, the presentation falls flat, which leaves both her and the presenter feeling that they missed the mark and didn’t make a difference with the program or audience.

Bringing dental hygiene key opinion leaders with their valuable messages to audiences is one of Liz’s greatest accomplishments. For her, it is a dream come true. Her speakers feel the same about working with her and the guests of the programs. As Sidney Poitier said on his 80th birthday, “Each step had brought me here, happy and healthy.” Touching lives through education and making a difference in the care provided to patients leaves guests of Liz Graham Presents programs arriving curious but leaving inspired.

For more information about Liz’s programs, visit

Thought for the Month:

“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at 20 or 80. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” - Henry Ford RDH

ANN-MARIE C. DEPALMA, RDH, MEd, FADIA, FAADH, is the 2017 recipient of the Esther M. Wilkins Distinguished Alumni Award of the Forsyth School for Dental Hygiene/Massachusetts College of Pharmacy. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Dental Hygiene and the Association of Dental Implant Auxiliaries, as well as a continuous member of ADHA. She presents continuing education programs for dental team members on a variety of topics. Ann-Marie has authored chapters in several texts for dental hygiene. She can be reached at [email protected].