Hawaiʻi Dental Service names first female dental director in 61 years

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Dental Director Dr. Heera Chang (left) and Director of Professional Relations Joann Gebauer (Photo courtesy: Hawaiʻi Dental Service)

Hawaiʻi Dental Service, the state’s leading dental benefits provider, has named Dr. Heera Chang as dental director.

Chang, a licensed medical doctor and dentist, is the first woman in this role in the company’s 61-year history.

Previously, she was associate surgeon with Oʻahu Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery in Honolulu and Kāneʻohe.


In her new role, she will manage relationships with the dental provider community with a team of Hawaiʻi Dental Service dental consultants, and provide clinical and administrative oversight of claims management.

Chang has experience in a variety of dental settings, including academia, private practice, community health center and public health spanning nearly 20 years. 

She has served as an assistant professor in oral and maxillofacial surgery at Columbia University’s College of Dental Medicine, an oral surgeon with clinics in New York and Massachusetts, a clinical instructor at Waiʻanae Comprehensive Community Health Center, and a public health dentist and an oral surgeon with the Developmental Disabilities Division’s Hospital and Community Dental Services Branch in the Hawaiʻi Department of Health.

“We’re glad to have someone of Dr. Chang’s caliber join the HDS team,” said Dr. Diane Paloma, Hawai’i Dental Service president and CEO. “Her diverse experience working on the East Coast and in rural underserved areas of Oʻahu gives her a valuable perspective that will further support the mission of HDS.”


Chang received a bachelor’s of science degree from the University of Wisconsin at Madison, and earned her dental degree from Columbia University’s School of Dental and Oral Surgery and medical degree from the University of Connecticut’s Health Center General Surgery.

Hawaiʻi Dental Service also promoted Joann Gebauer to the newly created position of director of professional relations. She will lead the professional relations team and be responsible for managing relationships with Hawaiʻi Dental Service participating dentists and expanding the organization’s Commercial, Medicare and Medicaid networks.

This is Gebauer’s fourth promotion in 10 years. She joined Hawaiʻi Dental Service as a compliance analyst in 2013, was promoted to senior compliance analyst in 2015, compliance manager in 2018 and privacy officer in 2020. She reports to Minna Lehti, the chief operating officer.

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