legal turmoil, bankrupt, leaderless, and have constituent societies (local components) in complete conflict with one another.

At the MDA we usually received about 75 pages of material to review prior to an MDA Board meeting. The ADA sends out 300 or more pages of material to review before a Board meeting. Former 8th

ee Dr. Bob Bitter’s comment on the amount of required reading is: “It’s like trying to get a drink of water from an open fire hydrant.” He’s right! Another difference between the state and national level is the size of the budget. It is not uncommon to be voting on funding for divisions or worthwhile pro- grams that cost millions of dollars.

What meetings are required and are there additional roles you have assumed in this position, perhaps serving on a committee or otherwise? The ADA Board meets six times per year at the Chicago office. All officers and trustees, as well as high-level staff and Senior Vice Presidents of the various ADA Divisions, attend. Attending an ADA Board meeting is a major time commitment. Sessions usually begin on Sunday morning early, recessing about 4pm. We’re back in session Monday for a 7:30am-4pm day and wrap things up on Tuesday morning, ending about noon. Both Vice Presidents and all Trustees are assigned to the several Standing Committees of the Board, which meet Friday and Saturday immediately before the Board meeting. So altogether you’ve got a Board meeting that can last four and one-half days. I have been assigned to sit on the Board’s Governance Committee and will be the Board’s Liaison to the ADA Alliance.

Now in this close-up position on the ADA Board, how do you feel about the ADA’s leadership structure and direction? What cur- rent issues intrigue or concern you the most? As an organization, the ADA is well led. Its divisions have direction and work toward a common goal—the Strategic Plan, Common Ground 2025. The issues most pressing for the Board this year are third party intrusion into dental practice; revision of the ADA Annual Session; ensuring that member pro- grams developed by the ADA remain viable and self-sustaining; and, helping compo- nents increase membership.

District (IL) trust-

Your role exposes you to all sorts of data and programs from states across the U.S. How do you think the ADA perceives Missouri in the grand scheme of things? Where do you see us ahead of the curve and what are some pos- sible improvements we could make as a state? Overall, MDA is well respected and held in high regard by the ADA. Dr. Dan Klemmed- son, the ADA President Elect, publicly spoke very highly of the MDA, its organization and its House of Delegates at an ADA Board meeting after his visit in November. As I mentioned previously, compared to other components, the MDA is well organized; has outstanding leadership and stability in our central office; and, has well informed, motivated dental leaders from all parts of the state who work well together. Not every state association is that fortunate.

Your role is obviously demanding with travel. How has the transition been difficult for your work schedule, family time or local involve- ment? Travel is an important part of being a member of the ADA Board. In February, I was in New York, Colorado Springs as well as Chicago for a Board meeting. In early March I will have spent several days in Charleston, S.C. at an event representing the ADA. The President really has a demanding travel schedule. On average, that position travels 20-25 days each month!

The administration of the SIU School of Dental Medicine has been very supportive not only of my service, but is generally sup- portive of organized dentistry. Many faculty members and administrators take active roles in the Madison County Dental Society and the Illinois State Dental Society. SIU faculty members currently serve on the ADA Annual Sessions Committee and the Council on Dental Accreditation.

Due to time constraints, I’ve had to slightly cut back my involvement in the GSLDS/ MDA. When I am out of town, it usually involves being gone on a weekend, which has made it a little more difficult to see my fam- ily, but altogether, it hasn’t affected family time too much.

Any words of wisdom for another member considering involvement at the national level? Get to know the MDA members who have served at the national level and express to them your interest in serving to get their personal perspective. Get involved in MDA and local society activities, and governance in particular. The local Board of Directors and MDA House of Delegates are great places to start getting the experience you need.

Being a leader in organized dentistry is a lot like being a player in organized baseball. As players move from the rookie league to AAA and then the majors, the competition gets more talented and you are vying for fewer spots on a roster. With each leadership position you occupy in organized dentistry, you gain valuable experience, make acquain- tances, and develop an appreciation of what each level in the tripartite is best able to accomplish. This helps prepare you for your next leadership position.

We all got involved in organized dentistry because we wanted to be of service to our fellow dentists and our patients. We wanted to give back to the profession that has given us so much. That’s how I see leadership in organized dentistry. I have never thought of myself as a ‘dental politician’ as some people derogatorily put it. However, to become in- volved and be successful in leadership at the ADA level you are going to need to develop both some degree of political savvy and an ability to ‘work the room’ as well.

Is there anything else you would like to share as you embark on this journey? I’d like to thank the MDA members for their past sup- port, and I will continue to represent them in the ADA Boardroom. In closing, I feel for- tunate to be able to serve as an officer of the ADA. Not many members have been able to do so. Over the course of my two-year term as ADA Vice President, I intend to represent and be a voice for all of our members, for the members are the heart of the ADA. f

Dr. Rapini feels it’s important for leaders to be engaged with the membership, and encourages your outreach. Contact him at or call/text 314-517-0135.

ISSUE 2 | MAR/APR 2020 | focus 35

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