Smiles Change Lives … Helping Families With The Cost Of Braces & Changing Lives One Smile At A Time
Smiles Change Lives is governed by a dedicated volunteer board of directors who provide governance and leadership to ensure the long-term health and vitality of the organization. It is these individuals who set the direction for our growth, sustainability and national expansion.
Mrs. Virginia L. Brown, Founder
A Kansas City native, Mrs. Virginia L. Brown founded the Virginia Brown Community Orthodontic Partnership in 1997 with the intent of filling the unmet need of providing braces for low-income children. After serving the first 48 children in Kansas City in 1998, Mrs. Brown’s vision and generosity grew into a national nonprofit organization named Smiles Change Lives (SCL). To date, SCL has changed the lives of thousands of children nationwide. Mrs. Brown retired from the board in 2015. She continues to support the organization as a member of the board of directors. She enjoys reading notes of gratitude from the kids and families touched by SCL.
Mr. Thomas C. Brown, President
Mr. Brown co-founded SCL along with his mother. He serves as president and chairman of the board of directors. Mr. Brown is an attorney with Brown Law Firm, LLC and has provided legal and business counseling services to organizations and individuals in the Kansas City area for more than thirty years. As an entrepreneur himself, Mr. Brown has proven instrumental in business management, matters of financial sustainability and the development of key partnerships for SCL.
Dr. Kelly Toombs, Orthodontist
Dr. Toombs has been an SCL board member since the organization’s inception as the Virginia Brown Community Orthodontic Partnership. In addition to serving as one of SCL’s directors, Dr. Toombs has many professional memberships including the American Association of Orthodontists, American Dental Association, Southwestern Society of Orthodontists, Kansas Association of Orthodontists, Kansas Dental Association, Greater Kansas City Society of Orthodontists, Fifth District Dental Society (Johnson County) and UMKC Orthodontic Alumni Association. Dr. Toombs attained his Certificate in Orthodontics from UMKC School of Dentistry in 1984. Much of SCL’s program model has been developed and refined over the years under Dr. Toombs’ leadership.
Dr. Stephen Litton, Orthodontist
Dr. Litton is SCL’s Minnesota program champion. He has been instrumental in recruiting volunteer orthodontists and expanding SCL’s reach throughout the state and nationwide. Dr. Litton received his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree in 1967, his Certificate in Orthodontics in 1970 and his Doctor of Philosophy degree in 1972, all from the University of Minnesota. Throughout his career he has received a variety of honors, including recognition from the Minnesota Association of Orthodontists, the Minnesota Dental Association and Midwestern Society of Orthodontists. He has served in a variety of leadership positions for organizations including the American Association of Orthodontists and The University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. Dr. Litton is currently a delegate to the American Association of Orthodontists House of Delegates.
Dr. Paul Hechler, Orthodontist
Dr. Hechler, our newest board member, is a practicing orthodontist with his Dad, Dr. Steven Hechler at Hechler Orthodontist in Overland Park, KS. He received his dental degree at UMKC School of Dentistry, graduating as a member of the OKU National Dental Honor Society. After attaining his dental degree, Dr. Paul completed his orthodontic residency at the University of Iowa. There he was awarded both a Certificate of Orthodontics and master’s degree. He is an active member of the American Association of Orthodontists (AAO) and the Kansas Dental Association (KDA).
Mr. Reuben Paulsen, Treasurer
Mr. Paulsen serves as treasurer for the SCL board of directors. He earned a Bachelor’s in Accounting from Washburn University in 1968. Since that time, Mr. Paulsen has worked in various companies until beginning his own accounting firm in 1997, specializing in small business accounting. Mr. Paulsen is also the Coordinator of the American Baptist Disaster Relief Team in the East Central Region of Kansas. In addition to his meticulous attention to detail, Mr. Paulsen is critical to the organization’s budgeting process.
Ms. Phyllis Nolan, Community Volunteer
Ms. Nolan has significant experience in business management, product and program development and consulting. She most recently worked as President of Peruvian Connection, a privately held knitwear and accessories company that markets to an international clientele. Her civic leadership includes five years on the Kansas Board of Regents, including a term as Board Chair. Ms. Nolan has also served on the board of a number of nonprofit organizations including the Kansas Policy Institute, the Kansas Civil Rights Commission and Heshima Kenya. She received her B.S. from the University of Nebraska, Lincoln and her MBA from Rockhurst College.
Ms. Susan Schmelzer Ph.D., Community Volunteer
Ms. Schmelzer’s professional background includes a range of experience in non-profit administration, education administration, consulting, and teaching. She received her B.S. from the University of Missouri, her M.A. in Public Administration from Central Michigan University and her Ph.D. in Administration of Higher Education from the University of Missouri. Ms. Schmelzer has more than 25 years of experience in volunteer community service. She has previously served on the board of directors for a number of organizations including Planned Parenthood of Greater Kansas City, Missouri Citizens for the Arts and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Mr. Alex Brown, Lathrop Gage
Alex Brown is an attorney at Lathrop Gage, specializing in complex policyholder and insurance coverage litigation. Prior to joining Lathrop, Mr. Brown worked as an attorney in Chicago for Dentons LLP in the litigation and arbitration practice group. Mr. Brown has a political science degree from the University of Pennsylvania and a law degree from the University of Michigan. Prior to attending law school, Mr. Brown provided finance and business advice to low-to-middle income entrepreneurs in the KC metro area with the Missouri Women’s Business Center.
Ms. Susan Oswalt Gibbons
Susan’s background includes over 20 years in the Consumer Packaged Goods industry. She worked with AC Nielsen leading consulting teams on clients such as General Mills, Georgia Pacific, Hormel, & Nestle, and spent nearly a decade with Coca-Cola Company holding management positions across Sales, Marketing, and IT. She currently serves as COO of Infiniti Logistics, and is involved in a number of non-profit boards. Susan received both her undergraduate & MBA from the University of Kansas.