FOR DAVE RUESCH, Regional Manager of the Liberty Region for Benco Dental, the legacy of Lucy Hobbs isn’t just a professional consideration: It’s very much personal, too.

“My mother, Ada Ruesch, was named after Ada Howard, who was her grandmother’s sister,” says Ruesch, who will celebrate his seventh year at Benco in August. Ada Howard was the first president of Wellesley College, a position she held from 1875 to 1881 — just as Hobbs’s dental career was getting firmly established. “I like to think that Lucy Hobbs has this connection to me,” Ruesch says. “It’s always rung true with me as a leader, because of my mother.”

That’s fitting, given that Ruesch’s leadership skills are at least partly responsible for his Trailblazer Award. He and his Liberty Region team, who are headquartered in the Philadelphia area, coordinated four Lucy Hobbs Project events last year alone. “I’ve promoted the Project to the region as something important,” he says. “The fact that we can point to a woman who had professional success when women didn’t have the right to vote or own property is empowering.”

Ruesch has passed along that inclusive message of success to his own two daughters, ages 22 and 20, as well as his 17-year-old son. “It helps give professional women some strength when things get hard,” he says of the Lucy Hobbs Project. “I’m proud to be part of a company that can give them inspiration.” His great-great-aunt, that estimable pioneer of women’s higher education, knows whereof he speaks. n