For Immediate Release
Date: Apr 15th, 2016
Contact: Richard A. Whitehouse
A Grateful Heart
For the benefit of our members who may not have attended the second meeting of the KDA House of Delegates, I am providing the text of my remarks. My words were intended to express appreciation for the efforts of so many in the last year. I also wanted to summarize our efforts and the path I see to greater success. I wanted to share these sentiments with our all members.
As I look back over the last year, many things come to mind. But, foremost among these is a sense of gratitude. The Roman philosopher, Cicero, once said, “Gratitude is not only the greatest of virtues, but the parent of all the others.” So, having a grateful heart may not be a bad place to start these remarks regarding what I believe has been a good rebuilding year for KDA.
First, I am grateful to my wife, Vivien, for supporting me in doing this work that I enjoy. I look forward to the day we can take “it’s complicated” off our Facebook relationship status.
I am grateful that my son, Jordan, was here with us this week and helping take photographs. I’m proud to say that he is just like me. But, better in every way.
I thank the KDA Board for allowing me the privilege to serve as your executive director and our respective component societies for being so welcoming and supportive during my visits around the state.
Thank you Dr. Moorhead for working with us on this meeting. There have been a lot of changes. And, I especially want to recognize Dr. Oldfield for taking a risk in the approach to our professional education offerings – it worked.
We are fortunate to work with great partners in Libby Milligan, John McCarthy and the team at McCarthy Strategic Solutions who help us navigate the halls of power in Frankfort.
I am especially grateful to work with great people every day like Todd Edwards, Melissa Nathanson, and Janet Glover who quite simply are three of the most committed and hardworking people with whom I could ever hope to work.
That brings me to our KDA President, Dr. Dennis Price. Of this man, I can only say that, to me, he epitomizes the very essence of good leadership. He entered this office with humility; meeting with me early on to discuss what work we could do together for the profession, and for KDA. He embraced the talents and commitment of those around him; engaging them in the process of moving our association forward. Finally, and most remarkably, he carried the banner of the issue of Medicaid; an issue in which he had no personal stake or background; and he gave strong voice to that issue and others in the halls of power in Frankfort on behalf of our members. Dennis, thank you for your leadership and your friendship.
Dr. Collins, I am looking forward to the chance to work with you over the next year and a half as we continue progress toward our strategic goals and take advantage of opportunities we find along the way.
It’s also been said that, “I can’t change the direction of the wind. But, I can adjust my sails to always reach my destination.” Last year, we recognized the trend of declining membership, declining revenue, and the nagging question of relevance in the political arena. New dentists are looking for a return on investment for their membership and many of our most loyal members are approaching retirement. This situation has adversely impacted the budget and our ability to fill an employee vacancy or begin initiatives to better serve members such as hiring a member concierge or creating a leadership academy. Finally, we were not well known in Frankfort and a new administration was coming into power.
We were not alone. Many organizations were experiencing this. But, there was no comfort in that fact. We needed to trim our sail. With that, I would like to summarize our “tack” in aligning efforts to create opportunities for organized dentistry in the commonwealth with our capacity to do so.
Our board met last spring, and KDA adopted a new strategic plan. Our renewed mission is to help member dentists succeed and serve. Our vision is that we can advance the profession while improving oral health. Our goals are to advocate for dentistry in the commonwealth, serve & support the needs and success of members, promote oral health through community service and public relations, and lead the profession through the ADA tri-partite structure.
That’s great language. Lofty enough. Plain English. But, what have we done and how are we going to keep our course true?
In the last year, in furtherance of these goals, we developed a better ground game in the public policy arena. We created a legislative agenda and built up our key contacts. We mobilized members on issues like SB18 or HB77, and helped more components initiate legislative meet & greets. As many of you know, we recently held our second annual KDA Legislative Day. We have also worked hard to practice evidence-based advocacy and have participated in studies by both Pew and the National Academy of State Healthcare Policy. We also worked to be a resource for the new administration on matters related to oral health
We have broadened our communications bandwidth through the creation of KDA eXPRESS and the use of social media like Twitter.
We have also begun to re-examine many of our business practices, taking a hard look at the services we are offering members. We are trying to move from an endorsement protocol to a patron plan. This involves moving away from exclusivity and giving members more choice. We are also asking how we can better serve and support our component boards.
Our strategic plan is a star to steer by. Along the way, it is certainly important to maintain the core values of the profession. But, we must fundamentally think differently in terms of what we offer members today. People don’t join anymore because it’s the right thing to do. We must strive to provide services and education needed by our members. We must continue the work of opening our door to women and minorities by offering programs like our Women’s Forum that specifically address the unique concerns and challenges of an oft neglected segment of our members. We must also keep sight of the big picture items that affect the profession and we tried to address those issues in small breakout sessions at this meeting. We also need to remember that dentistry is more diverse today than ever before and that includes recognizing and working together with some of the business models that have been created to address concerns of both patients and providers. Finally, we must do more to welcome students and new dentists to organized dentistry and our homecoming reception was a great success in that regard. To do these things, it is critical that we follow the course set by our strategic plan. This work is a process. It is a journey. And, it is one that truly involves all of us from membership to advocacy.
As I said, people don’t join anymore because it’s the right thing to do. In the past, they joined for many reasons. Some valued the advocacy provided by a professional association or the information that can be shared. Some received personal fulfillment from being involved, enjoyed developing a professional network or simply being able to interact with colleagues. Some joined because they saw it as their civic responsibility to the community. But, the main reason people will joined an organization was because some friend or influential colleague asked them to do so. It must be the same today, if we are to turn the tide on declining membership.
Imagine if every one of our current members brought just one new member on board in the next year. We would have 100% of the licensed dentists in the commonwealth. What if only the people in this room representing our component societies reached out to one new member in the next year? It would make a huge difference. Ultimately, that personal contact is the best way to address the problem of diminishing membership. Our members are our best recruitment tool.
It’s all about building relationships and maintaining them. But, it always comes down to two things: membership and advocacy. As I often say, members matter. If they don’t, you don’t have to worry about advocacy. I hope you will work to tell your colleagues that there is value and importance in being a part of organized dentistry, today, in Kentucky.
So, please encourage your colleagues to work with us to bring organized dentistry together, to do their part on behalf of their profession, and to be part of the solution to the challenges we face in organized dentistry.
Thank you, again, for the opportunity to serve the KDA and to be part of this journey.
Since these thoughts were shared with the House of Delegates, we have been quite busy in the final days of this short legislative session. We have been promoting a bill to require more accountability on the part of managed care organizations. We have also been working to thwart efforts to legalize the practice of denturity in this state.
In addition, we have met with new CHFS Secretary and Medicaid Commissioner to realize our KDA vision of advancing the profession while improving oral health in the commonwealth. Your KDA will continue working on your behalf and regularly inform you of our progress and the issues impacting organized dentistry.
As you know, we continue to expand our use of social media as part of our overall communications strategy. In the last few weeks we have used Twitter (@kdanow1) along with CapWiz e-mails to alert you to urgent legislative items. We will continue to use these methods to make you aware of KDA activity and news you need to know.
For the last few months, all licensed Kentucky dentists have also been receiving our eXPRESS newsletter. Feedback for this e-newsletter has been very positive. Our hope has been that this would provide added value to members by providing customized news and other information related to organized dentistry in the commonwealth. At the end of this introductory period, the plan was to discontinue this offering to non-members. Instead, we will continue to make eXPRESS available to all licensed Kentucky dentists. But, we will also begin restricting some content as premium for KDA members only. In this way, non-members will still be able to see the value of becoming a part of organized dentistry. But, members will be privy to more information and important updates they have come to expect from their association. Our hope is that all Kentucky dentists will decide to join us in our mission to help members dentists succeed and serve.
On February 17th, 2016, we held our 2nd Annual KDA Legislative Day in Frankfort. We had 53 members turnout to represent organized dentistry and speak with 75 legislators, including many in House or Senate leadership.
Our day started with greetings from Sen. Max Wise and Sen. Julie Raque-Adams who serves as chair of the Health & Welfare Committee. We heard reports from Government Affairs Chair, Dr. David Narramore, KDPAC Chair, Dr. Mike Johnson, Dental Technical Advisory Committee Chair, Dr. Garth Bobrowski, and our lobbyist, Libby Milligan with McCarthy Strategic Solutions. Before lunch, and following a briefing on key issues and lobbying techniques, we visited the offices of our representatives and senators sharing information and distributing a little KDA floss.
This event was a great success for organized dentistry. It is extremely important for us to build relationships in the legislature. You will definitely want to join us next year to be part of this important event. If you want to learn more about how to become involved in legislative issues impacting organized dentistry and are interested in becoming a key legislative contact, send me a note at email@example.com.
Our 2016 KDA Annual Meeting is now history. Thanks to BJ Moorhead and the Council on Annual Sessions for their work. Special thanks to Dr. Mary Oldfield for building an outstanding curriculum based on what Kentucky dentists want to learn, need to know and will come to see. This meeting was a solid model to follow for successful meetings in the future.
We tried a lot of new things at this meeting. We began this annual meeting with a free CE offering for members only and led by Scott Hobart with P&G titled, “Leadership & Courage: An Exercise in Self-Assessment.”
That presentation led into another first in our KDA Opening Session, which outlined the plan for our meeting and the activities of KDA in the last year to support members. Immediately following the opening session was our William Marcus Randall luncheon, where we honored the service of KDA members and leaders.
On the second day, in addition to our other CE offerings, we offered four free CE breakout sessions for members only. These breakouts involved legislation & advocacy, updates regarding Medicaid, best practice lessons for component societies and multi-dentist practice information.
Later that evening, immediately following the UK and U of L Alumni Receptions, KDA president Dr. Dennis Price hosted our first-ever Student and New Dentist Homecoming Dance. It was a full house with food, fun, and more than a few members feeling foot-loose on the dance floor. A professional magician made the rounds and attendees lined up to squeeze into the KDA Photo Booth.
But, the most noticeable change during our meeting was the activity in the exhibit hall. Many of our KDA sponsors and vendors were there displaying the latest in technology, services and other goods. Once again, the photo booth made an appearance. Several people reported an Elvis sighting in and out of the hall. Our amazing Elvis impersonator even brought a Meatloaf impersonator with him. The hall was rock’n. But, Miss Kentucky USA Katie George was the real thing as many of our members who received signed photos will agree. We were grateful for her appearance and donation of her time. The Louisville Zoo brought some furry (and some scaled) friends to meet our members. Tapper, from the Louisville Water Company, made a special appearance. But, the real showstopper in the exhibit hall this year was Jordan Whitehouse as Mr. Sparkle. Six-feet of toothpaste never walked an exhibit hall with so much swagger.
Our goal was to build a “Kentucky Class” event that could serve as a model for future successful meetings. While many associations are feeling the pain of declining interest in annual meetings and questioning their value, we have committed to building a better meeting. Our member’s time is valuable. We must offer them an event that gives them a reason to take time from their busy life and practice. We will do that by creating an event that members will want to bring their staffs and families to attend and will provide greater value in terms of both content and affordability. And, we have found a way to do it by giving them a destination where they can do what dentists do - work hard and play hard. In August 2017, KDA is headed to French Lick Resort. Please look for more information about this exciting event in the coming months and plan on joining us!