May 22—Mark Yamakawa, who has served as president and CEO of Hawaii Dental Service since November 2014, announced Friday he is retiring this year and has agreed to stay on until a new president is on board.
An executive search is underway to identify a successor to ensure a smooth leadership transition. A successor is tentatively expected to be on board by December.
"Mark has done a phenomenal job of leading Hawaii Dental Serv ice to improve access to oral health care in Hawaii, " said Suzy Hollinger, chairwoman of the Hawaii Dental Service board of directors. "Over the past seven years, Mark has worked collaboratively with dentists, employer groups, nonprofit organizations, and others in communities across our state to ensure oral health is a priority. He leaves HDS in excellent shape for a new leader to continue to take the company forward."
Under Yamakawa's leadership, HDS formed partnerships with medical plan partners to provide dental benefits to Supplemental Medicaid and Medicare Advantage beneficiaries. The HDS Foundation also created a scholarship program for Hawaii students pursuing careers in dentistry or dental hygiene, expanded its community outreach programs and increased charitable giving to support oral health education and access to dental care.
"My time with HDS has been a great capstone of my career in healthcare, " Yamakawa said in a statement. "Healthcare, and in particular, oral health care, is constantly evolving, and HDS has been able to keep pace with these changes to meet the oral health needs of Hawaii residents, especially the most vulnerable in our state."
Hawaii Dental Service, or HDS, is the leading dental benefits provider in the state, serving nearly 1 million residents throughout Hawaii, Guam and Saipan. It has the largest network of dentists, with more than 95 % of Hawaii's licensed, practicing dentists participating with HDS.