About Betsy Wilson, Founder of Let's Face It USA

On June 26th, 2006, Patricia Anderson of the UM School of Dentistry Library received an e-mail message that began:

"The Let's Face It consumer health website needs a new home. Would you be interested in posting it on your website as your own pages?"

Little did we know what a whirlwind of activity would be initiated by this simple question!  Discussions about bringing the site to the University of Michigan began in earnest on August 3rd.  A steering committee for the project sprang into existence with membership representing units across campus -- the School of Dentistry, the UMHS Craniofacial Team, and the University Libraries.  This group met for the first time on August 18th, and the files for the web site were transferred to a School of Dentistry server on August 23rd.  Today, slightly more than two months later, we gather here to unveil the new Michigan version of the Let's Face It website and honor the woman who founded it almost twenty years ago.

In that initial contact message, Rosalind Dudden, Librarian of the Gerald Tucker Memorial Medical Library at National Jewish Medical and Research Center in Denver, described Betsy with these words.

"Betsy Wilson, Director of the Let's Face It, is retiring after founding the organization in 1987.  She has worked tirelessly as an advocate for people with facial difference, counseling people over the phone and in person and giving speeches around the country to healthcare practitioners.  She has received several national awards for her work."

At that time, we did not know Betsy, but since the project has begun, we have received numerous testimonials about her achievements, both personal and professional.  Sam Zwetchkenbaum, our own Program Director for Hospital Dentistry, was particularly passionate about why we should get involved with Let's Face It, having met Betsy at professional meetings.

"Betsy gave a talk a number of years ago to the American Academy of Maxillofacial Prosthetics.  Where most talks were from prosthodontists and were technical, showing the latest materials or use of equipment, hers was from a non-dentist and showed us the human side of what we did -- it was a real eye opener.  She wanted to help us help our patients -- a noble and selfless effort that has been very successful."

Here are comments from Nancy Corke Smythe, Executive Director American Cleft Palate-Craniofacial Association / Cleft Palate Foundation.

"When I think about Betsy Wilson, I think about a hero (and she's hating right now that I'd call her that!).  I think about a remarkable person who has chased her dreams -- even through adversity -- and then caught them.  I think about a friend who has cared enough to always be honest (even brutally so!).  Betsy won our Cleft Palate Foundation's Parent-Patient Leadership Award because she is all these things and more.  She has always put 120% effort behind anything she set her mind to.”

“Not a day went by that she did not lighten someone's load and bring a smile to someone's face.  I can't believe she is retiring but I know it is her time to do something for herself after serving many thousands of individuals and families for 20 years."

On a more personal note, Karen Le Clair wrote from the Family Support Network of North Carolina.

"It's been my privilege to know Betsy Wilson for nearly 20 years as a dear friend and mentor.  Betsy's knowledge, wit, and wisdom have helped thousands of individuals with facial difference and their families.  Betsy is a true gift to humanity and it is wonderful that her work will carry on through the University of Michigan."

We could not agree more, and are delighted to be able to present to you today's speaker, Betsy Wilson.