On this, my first occasion to write to you as ICD USA Section President, I was reflecting on Jim Setterberg’s message written at this same time last year. 2020 began with so much hope and anticipation. Elaborate plans had been made for our Centennial Celebration to be held at our Annual Convocation in Orlando and later at the International Council Meeting in Nagoya, Japan. In short, Jim’s message was full of excitement for what we could anticipate during the coming year.

Who would have expected that just a month later, all our plans would be changed by a virus labeled COVID-19? Nor did we know how severe and far-reaching this global pandemic would become.

“The best laid schemes of mice and men, often go awry. And leave nothing but grief and pain, for promised joy.” - Robert Burns

Now, a year later, my message to you is that the Scottish poet was only partially right. It’s true that our best laid schemes did “go awry,” but the ICD did not accept the “grief and pain.” Instead, we moved forward with courage and innovation. Shortly after the seriousness of this viral attack became apparent, I remember hearing Joe Kenneally, past ICD and USA Section President, say that “every crisis presents an opportunity.” I’m here to tell you that this has been and continues to be the mantra of your ICD leadership.

My message to you today is that the ICD met the challenges of 2020 and we will do the same in 2021. Last year we learned the power of our committees as they met virtually more often and for a greater number of hours than ever before. These committees have developed a new and well defined Applied Strategic Plan to guide our Section. This strategy will keep us vibrant and relevant for years to come. As your President, I feel blessed to have so many extremely capable and committed individuals leading our committees, and I am confident that our goals will be met and exceeded.

Last year we were also concerned that we might not be able to induct a class of Fellows. But instead, we used this crisis as an opportunity to hold the first-ever virtual convocation. The result was that we inducted 296 new Fellows for 2020! So, what does 2021 hold for the ICD USA Section? This was the main question before the Executive Committee as we met in mid-January. Out of an abundance of caution, we decided to hold our Spring Board of Regents Meeting virtually again this year. That meeting will be held on May 15, 2021. This decision was made even easier because our team was able to negotiate with our venue in Scottsdale to let us move our deposits forward to the same time frame two years from now with no penalties.

We are currently planning that our 2021 convocation will be held live in Las Vegas this year in conjunction with the ADA. We are in early discussions with them at this time. We are excited about that possibility, and the ICD Secretary General, Joe Kenneally, is also planning to have the International Council Meeting as part of our meeting in Las Vegas. Of course, many things will have to come together successfully for this to happen, but we are hopefully anticipating a great meeting if in Las Vegas this October. Meeting together as Fellows is an important part of the ICD experience and we are praying that the vaccine will once again allow us the privilege of that fellowship.

Regardless of the challenges before us, our core values of Integrity, Leadership, and Service will always be a solid foundation for measuring excellence in our dental colleagues. Each year new members of our profession rise to that level of excellence. It is our privilege and responsibility as ICD Fellows to recognize our colleagues who manifest this level of achievement in our profession. I urge you to make the effort to sponsor a colleague whom you know meets or exceeds our high standards and deserves this honor. Someone took the time to recognize your contributions to dentistry, so please pass on that honor to another qualified colleague.

Remember our deadline for candidate nomination is June 30th. As you prepare to sponsor a candidate, be aware that your letter of recommendation plays an important role in the selection of our Fellows. Please be sure your letter offers the information needed for the Board of Regents to vote fairly on your Candidate.

I also encourage you to continue to practice our Section’s motto, “Serving Others”. As opportunities arise, please show the generosity and compassion that has always been an important part of the ICD’s contribution to improving global dental health.

As we move into 2021, I would also ask that you support the USA Section Foundation. Your contributions to the Foundation provide funds for grants to programs such as the International Student Experience and Global Health Student Associations. Remember, even if you are not able to volunteer in person, the Foundation allows you to show your generosity through your financial gifts.

This is also a good opportunity for me to mention the social media platforms that we have implemented to keep you abreast of timely topics. Our “Live 45”, “Take 10” and “Take 20” interviews have been well received, and our Editor, Richard Roadcap, is planning the release of an e-newsletter to further improve our communications later this year.

I’m grateful for the opportunity to serve as your President this year. As I met Fellows throughout the world, and as I review the resumes of the candidates for Fellowship each year, I’m truly humbled to be a part of such an extraordinary group of people. The ICD is, indeed, a College of impressive and outstanding professionals.

My virtual “door” is always open. Please let me know what I can do to better serve you this year.

In Fellowship,

Gerald R. Karr, DDS, MS
President, ICD USA Section