Massachusetts Dental Society Announces 2023 William McKenna Volunteer Hero

Massachusetts Dental Society
Massachusetts dental society


The Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS) and the Journal of the Massachusetts Dental Society are delighted to announce Andrew Tonelli, DMD, as the recipient of the 2023 William McKenna Volunteer Hero award. With a long-standing history of volunteering for the MDS, Dr. Tonelli recently served as the spokesperson for the Massachusetts Dental Care Providers for Better Dental Benefits Committee. This committee was established by the MDS and the American Dental Association (ADA) to educate Massachusetts voters about the importance of “Voting Yes on Question 2” during the 2022 Massachusetts state election.

Massachusetts dental society

Andrew Tonelli, DMD

Dr. Tonelli’s expertise and insights played a pivotal role in achieving a resounding victory at the polls. This triumph not only resulted in the endorsement of “Question 2,” but it also paved the way for states nationwide to explore the implementation of this groundbreaking dental insurance reform.

Dr. Tonelli’s journey as a volunteer for the MDS commenced when he joined the Government Affairs Committee, eventually ascending to the position of co-chair. As he observed insurers operating with minimal oversight and erecting obstacles that hindered access to quality dental care in Massachusetts, he recognized the potential deterioration of care quality and the narrowing avenues for young dentists to establish their practices. Driven by this realization, Dr. Tonelli made the decision to increase his involvement and contribute to positive change.

“You want the policies that impact the profession to benefit patients and make sense,” he said. The 2022 Massachusetts state ballot question did just that—benefited patients and impacted the profession. Question 2 requires dental insurers to be more transparent to patients by ensuring that 83% of the premiums they pay are spent on care, with any excess premium refunded to the patient.

As the spokesperson for the Massachusetts Dental Care Providers for Better Dental Benefits Committee, Dr. Tonelli said that dealing with the media during that time was an “eye-opening” and challenging experience. He and the “Yes on 2” Committee felt momentum turn before the election when the Boston Globe published an editorial recognizing that dental insurers should be held to the same standard as medical insurers and a percentage of premium dollars should go to care.

“Seeing the power and effectiveness of organized dentistry rallying around this cause was really heartening,” states Tonelli.

Since 1996, the MDS and the Journal have recognized member dentists who have dedicated their enthusiasm, talents, and time to the MDS and organized dentistry as the William McKenna Volunteer Heroes. This recognition, named in honor of the late Dr. William McKenna—one of the founders of the Yankee Dental Congress and a model of volunteerism within the Society—is the Society’s way of thanking those members who go above and beyond to help the MDS achieve its goals, inspire colleagues, and advance the dental profession.

Dr. Tonelli’s volunteer efforts had a positive impact on the Massachusetts Dental Society and organized dentistry as a whole. The passage of insurance reform in Massachusetts opened the door for organized dentistry to back similar reform in other states. By sharing his voice on the issue, Dr. Tonelli helped band together organized dentistry in Massachusetts.

As a result of his efforts, dentists from across the country now realize that they have the power to make change happen if they speak up and take a stand.

About the Massachusetts Dental Society

The Massachusetts Dental Society (MDS), a professional association representing 5,000-plus member dentists and a statewide constituent of the American Dental Association, is dedicated to the professional development of its member dentists through initiatives in education, advocacy, the promotion of the highest professional standards, and championing oral health in the Commonwealth.

For more information, visit, and follow the MDS on Twitter @MassDental.