Key Trends in Dental

General Session: Key Trends in Dental - a CEO panel discussion


Wednesday, September 20

8:30 AM – 9:45 AM (PT)

This session is sponsored by:  

At one point or another, we have all wondered with colleagues about the future of our company and industry. But most of us need more purview to fully assess the challenges and opportunities. In most organizations, the CEO (including the owner of the dental P&L when dental resides inside a multi-line company) is best positioned to look across the organization, weigh its challenges and opportunities, and strategize for its future. The vision of the CEO anticipates and minimizes roadblocks and positions our companies and industry to continually improve.

In this “fireside chat,” three NADP member company CEOs will cordially discuss the topics of the greatest importance to our industry—looking at today’s challenges and tomorrow’s opportunities. CONVERGE’s 2023 CEO panel includes the senior leaders from two national dental plans and one of the nation’s leading DSOs.

Mike Adelberg, MPA, MA

Executive Director

National Association of Dental Plans

In November 2022, Michael (Mike) Adelberg joined NADP as Executive Director. Adelberg comes to NADP after leading Faegre Drinker Consulting’s healthcare provider and plans practice in Washington, DC, where his practice was largely focused on insurance benefits, including dental benefits. Before joining Faegre Drinker Consulting, Mike held several senior positions within the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS). Adelberg was responsible for establishing the Affordable Care Act policy for pediatric dental coverage and stand-alone dental plans. Before that, he oversaw Medicare Advantage plan contracting and market conduct, including supplemental dental benefits.

Adelberg holds a master’s degrees in Public Policy and Administration from Northern Illinois University, and History from Rutgers University. He’s authored or co-authored studies in leading journals such as Health Affairs, the American Journal of Managed Care, and Health Services Research, led or co-led four foundation projects, and has been quoted in leading media including the New York Times, Washington Post, and

Kara M. Kohler Hoogensen

Senior Vice President

Principal Financial Group®

Kara M. Kohler Hoogensen is a senior vice president with Principal Financial Group®. She has responsibility for the Workplace Benefits business as well as the strategy and innovation function and claims operations within Benefits and Protection.

Kara joined Principal in 1996 as a junior pension underwriter. She was promoted to assistant pension underwriter in 1998 and pension consultant in 2000. After a year with Merck & Co., Inc. as a professional representative, Kara re-joined Principal in May 2001 as a business development consultant. In January 2007, she moved to the position of strategy director in corporate strategy. She joined Principal Funds in June 2008 as a strategy director. Kara was named director-defined contribution investment only (DCIO) in July 2011 and was promoted to managing director–investment only in March 2012. She was promoted to chairman, president, and CEO of Principal Bank and Principal Trust Company in June 2014 and became president and CEO of Principal Securities, Inc. in March 2015. From late 2015 through June 2018, she also led a cross-business unit team that navigated the largest regulatory change for the financial services industry since the 1970s (the Department of Labor fiduciary regulation). She was promoted to vice president in August 2017 and senior vice president in March 2020.

Kara received her bachelor's degree from Central College in 1996. She has earned her Certified Employee Benefits Specialist (CEBS) and Certified Investment Management Analyst (CIMA®) designation. Kara was named to the Des Moines Business Record’s “Forty Under Forty” in 2009 for her professional and civic accomplishments, was selected to attend the inaugural Fortune Most Powerful Women Next Gen Summit in December 2014, and attended the inaugural G100 Women’s Leadership Acceleration (WLA) program in December 2016, continuing to participate in the WLA Network through June 2018. In December 2018, Kara was named to the board of directors for Limelight Health, Inc., a California-based quoting, underwriting, and proposal platform for the employee benefits industry, serving until the company’s acquisition in August 2020. Kara is the chair of the LIMRA Workplace Benefits Executive Advisory Board. She also serves on the Central College Economics, Accounting, and Management (EAM) Advisory Council and the Central College Board of Trustees.

Ken Sheldon


UnitedHealthcare Dental

Ken Sheldon is the president of UnitedHealthcare Dental, a diverse oral healthcare organization that covers 25 million lives across the commercial and government markets. Ken guides the strategic vision and its execution across network, clinical, distribution, actuarial, finance, and shared services. Ken aims to deliver cost-effective oral health programs as part of UnitedHealthcare's Specialty Benefits team. Additionally, he is responsible for external business development. Ken has been with UnitedHealth Group for 24 years. Before joining UnitedHealthcare, Ken was president of National Pacific Dental. As president, he managed all aspects of the dental business. This included sales, product development, network development and administration, plan implementation, state and federal regulatory compliance, as well as all operational facets of the business.

Stephen E. Thorne IV, BA, MHA

Founder & CEO

Pacific Dental Services

Stephen E. Thorne IV, BA, MHA, is the Founder and CEO of Pacific Dental Services® (PDS), a prominent dental and medical support organization established in 1994. Based in Irvine, Calif., PDS delivers comprehensive business support services to nearly 1,000 dental and primary care practices in 25 states, operating in major market areas across the United States. PDS is dedicated to integrating dental and medical care and supporting clinicians' professional growth. Mr. Thorne's leadership has solidified PDS as an expert in the Mouth-Body Connection®, advocating for enhanced collaboration between dental and medical professionals to optimize patient outcomes. He actively contributes to industry organizations and academic institutions, promoting oral health and medicine integration. Mr. Thorne graduated from the University of California Los Angeles with a degree in business economics and earned his master’s degree in health administration from Chapman University. In recognition of his contributions, he was awarded an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters from A.T. Still University, the world's first osteopathic medical school, in 2016.

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