I am truly honored and privileged to lead this organization. The Georgia Dental Association has many past leaders who have provided us with the great association we have today. We need to thank and honor them…one of the ways we can do that is to treasure what we presently have.

The GDA is our voice in the dental profession and is highly respected. We must not only treasure and maintain that position, but also advance it. We also need to look to the future and the many changes happening in the health care system and how it affects our profession and our patients. We must shape our future with thoughtful leadership that will position us to be a solid organization that not only supports our members, but also continues to be a strong voice for them in the profession.

This is a pivotal year for our association as we develop the framework for our future. We have much to accomplish, but first we must establish a solid financial footing upon which to build. It is important to operate within our means and to build appropriate reserves not only for the GDA, but for GDIS and GDHC. The board has taken several steps that will be implemented this year to put our association in a much stronger and better position. New member services -- like the cooperative buying service, among others -- will not only contribute to your own bottom line, but it will also support your association.

Another key priority over the next year is to develop and begin implementing a strategic plan. A strategic plan gives us a clear vision of where we want to be and a road map of how to get there. We will then be able to focus our energy, resources and time to achieve it. Much has changed in the landscape of the profession. We must be ready to face the future head on. We must be bold. We must be relevant. The development of this plan started this past year with interviews and surveys. This input has been complied and in mid August the Strategic Planning Committee will meet for a weekend retreat to develop the plan. It will then be distributed to the Board of Trustees and the House of Delegates for comments, and then presented to the districts in the Fall. Final vote on the plan will be at the next House of Delegates meeting.

Also a priority this year, we will develop and launch of Georgia’s Action for Dental Health to improve oral health and the overall health of all Georgians. This initiative will be implemented over several years with collaborative efforts from all stake holders. The goals are to promote quality attainable dental care for the uninsured and underserved in Georgia; to promote oral health education and literacy to mitigate potential barriers to a dental home; and to optimize the use and availability of publicly supported dental facilities. We must strengthen the position of the Georgia Dental Association and our members as Georgia’s trusted experts and leaders in oral health, while also advancing the profession of dentistry in the state. Developing and actualizing this platform will further the GDA ‘s vision statement for all Georgians: “Georgia: A state with optimal oral health.”

In tandem with the roll-out of Georgia’s Action for Dental Health, we’ll launch a three-year communications program that will help us achieve a couple of important objectives. Among them are: defining the dentist as the leader of the dental team in the face of a threat from mid-level providers; improving oral health for all Georgians through education; and ensuring a steady pipeline of patients in our offices for years to come.  I am excited to see how the GDA Public Relations Committee and their partner communications firm, Golin, are making traction on issues we have been discussing for years.

Lastly, this coming year we’ll make an operational change that better accommodates schedules of volunteers and is more efficient with our finances. We are rearranging and consolidating some of the Board of Trustees, House of Delegates, and ADA delegation meetings. We will have Board of Trustees meetings in late September, early December, early March in Macon, and in July at the annual meeting. The House of Delegates will meet in early December and at the July annual meeting. This new schedule will enable us to cut down on the number of leadership meetings. It’s also more efficient with schedules and finances, making it more appealing for new dentists to volunteer and  participate. By moving meetings to early December instead of early January, it will also help eliminate some of the stress and conflict with the holiday season, giving you more time to enjoy the season with family and friends.

The tasks ahead of us are daunting, but doable. Never before has there been so much opportunity to make a real impact. The work we do in the next 12 months truly will shape the future of the association.

1) It will be shaped with bold leadership that will lead us to an association with solid financial footing upon which to grow.

2) It will be shaped by innovation and collaboration as we develop and launch Georgia’s Action for Dental Health and amplify our messages through a communications program.

3) It will be shaped by thoughtful leadership as we embark on a new strategic plan that ensures the Georgia Dental Association remains a strong and respected voice for our members in the profession.

GDA members, the future looks bright. Thank you for entrusting me as your president and I look forward to working with you over the next year.