Letter from the Future

My friends,

It has been several years since I last wrote and this seems like the perfect time to let you know what has happened since then. While the advent of nearly instantaneous communication has made putting thoughts to paper seem quaint, I know of no better way for me to describe what has happened with our organization since 2017.

My previous letter listed quite a few accomplishments, none of which would have likely occurred had we not sat down together and made it our goal to get them done. We were justifiably proud to have made such great strides, but we also realized that there was and continues to be, more to do. It does not diminish the worthiness of those accomplishments to say that they elevated us to the level of a good organization. We are not and should not be content to simply be good, but rather, exemplify what a great organization can be. My belief is that our latest accomplishments have set us on that path. As you know, those accomplishments are a matter of record, but writing down the highlights serves as a reminder of what they were:

As the face of dentistry in the United States changes, so does our Fellowship. Our members as well as the Board of Regents now reflect the large number of females and ethnicities practicing dentistry in this country. This is in no small part due to the efforts of our Membership Committee, which deals exclusively with recruitment and retention. They also keep their finger on the pulse of the organization, regularly surveying the Fellows’ needs and wants as well as their disappointments. The data they collect allows us to better tailor ICD to the individual expectations of the Fellows. Those who want to be involved are matched as closely as possible to their area of interest at some level of the organization. Of course, having our leaders personally meet with as many of our new Fellows as possible demonstrates the importance we place on them and their talents. We continue to evaluate areas where new Fellows may be located to increase this talent pool. Our members understand the value of Fellowship and share their experiences with us but even more exciting is that more and more of our peers become keenly interested in joining us. Taken together, this has resulted in a membership 20% larger than the time of the last letter.

It is a fact that in their mission statements, most of the dental honorary organizations state that they promote, among other things, leadership. However, instead of just talking about it, ICD USA is actively engaged. In addition to articles in our national publications, most chapter and district newsletters now highlight some aspect of leadership. Our online leadership institute, along with participation in and support of leadership conferences at the state, regional and national levels demonstrated how serious we are at actively promoting this core value. Since its posting on the UMichDent YouTube Channel, our Leaders in Dentistry video series is exceptionally popular both within the profession and among the general public. Finally, our continuing support of White Coat Ceremonies at the dental schools exposes our young colleagues to ICD values early in their careers.

Service remains one of our core values for good reason: Volunteerism is one of our strong suits. We continue to be the global leader in charitable oral health care volunteerism, supporting projects and working with other organizations in areas of need. The newest members of our profession also benefit greatly from our efforts through the numerous Global Student Health Associations; indeed at this point, every dental school that wants to have one now has a chapter. Our ever popular volunteerism seminars continue to be presented to packed audiences. And our Foundation is a beneficiary of this dedication to service, with both individual and corporate donations reaching record levels.

None of these efforts would have been accomplished without a first class infrastructure. Our social media presence continues to be timely and topical. The development of a smartphone app makes access to these sites simple and the users tell us they appreciate its usefulness. Thanks to translation software, our online discussion forums are used by ICD members throughout the world. Our staff has kept the wheels turning smoothly, and thanks to them, administrative costs are down while the relative amount of budget going into projects has increased. Our corporate sponsors and advertisers are both generous and loyal, stabilizing our membership dues for the past few years. This has resulted in us rebuilding our reserves to over $1,000,000.

Because of all the above, ICD USA has made anyone who cares to know that our brand and values of Integrity, Leadership and Service, are our promise to the world. They know what they can expect from our efforts and services; how we are different from the offerings of other honorary dental organizations. Our brand is derived from who we are, who we want to be, and who people perceive us to be. When we celebrated our centennial two years ago, we marveled at how far we’ve evolved since 1920. If only we had a crystal ball to see what we will look like at our bicentennial. I have no doubt it will be spectacular. I look forward to writing the next letter.