Dr. Gasper Lazzara
Dr. Gasper Lazzara earned his Doctor of Dental Science (DDS) degree from Emory University in 1966 and his Orthodontic certificate in New Orleans, Louisiana, in 1969. After many years maintaining a private orthodontic practice, Dr. Lazzara strove for a way to provide public access to more affordable orthodontic care. Dr. Lazzara founded Orthodontic Centers of America, Inc. (“OCA”) in 1985 to help solve this problem. OCA was the leading provider of integrated business services to orthodontic practices. Under his leadership, OCA grew from a startup to become the outright industry leader by providing world-class business services through approximately 375 practices operating out of 1,032 member centers.
Dr. Lazzara served as OCA’s Founder, CEO, President, Director and Chairman for 16 years, becoming well known and respected for revolutionizing the orthodontic industry. His retirement in 2001 provided him the opportunity to pursue other business ventures and to dedicate more time to his true passion, providing affordable orthodontic care to the public by increasing the number of practicing orthodontists.
In 2002, Dr. Lazzara founded Orthodontic Education Company (“OEC”). Over the next four years, OEC established three ADA accredited orthodontic programs to increase the number of orthodontics in the field and decrease the cost of orthodontic care. OEC’s capital contribution directly into these universities was in excess of $12 million. Today, Jacksonville University, University of Colorado and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas are still enjoying the benefits of these investments. Most importantly, there are 35 additional orthodontic graduates each year ready to serve the public.
Dr. Lazzara’s passion for education is evidenced in the grants provided by the Foundation. Through his efforts, the Foundation has funded scholarship endowments at the University of North Florida, Edward Waters College, the Louisiana State University Health Sciences Center, and the University of Colorado. He has received Honorary Doctorates from Edward Waters College and the University of Colorado to acknowledge these efforts.
Dr. Lazzara was awarded Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year in 2004 by Florida’s First Coast Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals in recognition of his ongoing support of the charitable organizations of North East Florida. He is also a member of the United Way Tocqueville Society, which recognizes local philanthropic leaders who have devoted time, talent, and funds to create long-lasting changes by tackling the local community’s most serious issues. He and his wife Irene have served and continue to serve on numerous charitable boards in their local community.