Navigating Uncharted Waters

Nearly 9 months ago, September 6, 2019, Dr. Peter Korch “passed the torch” and placed the ICD Presidential Medallion and chain around my neck in San Francisco, California.  As my first act as in-coming President, I had nearly 1000 people at the convocation dinner sing “Happy Birthday” to my beloved wife. 
What a year I was looking forward to as the International College would be celebrating the Centennial Celebration in 2020.  We planned to host a gala celebration in Orlando, Florida and the fabulous conclusion to our festivities would take place at Disney World with a special dinner, a private show and exclusive access to some amazing Disney rides.  We were all looking forward to a banner year of New Fellows who were excited about being inducted during the College’s centennial year.  We even anticipated that a few would want to travel to Nagoya, Japan for induction in an international celebration!  What a memorable occasion that would be!
Our year started successfully with an Executive Committee meeting in Gaithersburg, Maryland at the headquarters office.  Day one was a “refresh” of the Strategic Plan, as we had accomplished most of our original goals, objectives, and action plans.  Goal champions were named to our 5 new goals and excitement was in the air as we began the “next 100 years”! We were on our way!
Spring found me travelling to Denver, Colorado for the Rocky Mountain Dental Convention, then Boston, Massachusetts for the Yankee Dental Congress.  We were welcomed with beautiful weather and wonderful hosts.  Helping the ACD District 1 Chapter celebrate their 100-year anniversary as ICD Section 1 President was wonderful!  On to the Chicago Mid-Winter where, again, I was welcomed by gracious hosts and had an opportunity to speak, this time at a conjoined luncheon for the Colleges.  And being slated just before our guest speaker, Dr. Chad Gehani, ADA President….How could it get any better?
Fast forward, middle of March 2020.  Novel COVID-19 virus spreads across the world and the United States. Borders closed.  Plans to attend Section 2 Centennial Celebration, cancelled.  Southwest Dental Conference in my home District?  Cancelled.  Adjacent state’s Annual Sessions?  Cancelled.  Offices mandated to be closed to all but emergencies.  Thousands of our members out of their offices…until when?  “Stay at home” orders, social distancing (did we ever hear of this term before this crisis?), travel restrictions, new PPE guidelines for when we are able to return to work, PPP and EIDL loan applications. Will we be able to survive this mandated closure?  So many unknowns.
Our spring Board of Regents meeting, when I was looking forward to reconnecting with the balance of the Board and new Regents, was rescheduled from May in sunny Arizona (time to put this long winter behind us!), to late June in Maryland.  We would attempt to accomplish most of the meeting virtually as to minimize our Board member’s time away from their offices after this prolonged closure.  Would we or should we be traveling and meeting together as a group?  Initial hotel and room reservations were put together.  A virtual meeting of the Executive Committee was then held and determined that it would be best to hold the spring meeting completely virtual via Zoom conferencing.  The “King of Zoom” may now be an appropriate title for me.
Having a retired Navy Admiral on my right, and a Navy spouse on my left (Dr. Wagner and Paula Rinaudo), my Chaplains for Spiritual guidance (Doctors Karr and Martin), Purser (Dr. Lemmo), Chief Communications Officer (Dr. Roadcap), our Public Affairs Officer (Dr. Patel) and several Admiral’s Aides (Kylie and Nicki to set up Zoom meetings, Jennifer to keep the Candidate process flowing smoothly), Head of Recruitment (Dr. Suchy), Commander-in Chief as Secretary General (Dr. Kenneally), my co- Captain, Dr. Korch, and our Fleet Commanders, the five ASP Goal champions, we are going to weather this storm!
We tried to return to port in June to reconnect, but a “confined-to-quarters” order made that a direct violation of Orders! “Stay at sea”.  Our destination has not changed.  As I had said earlier this year in my Presidential addresses, “I want the ICD to be that entity that comes to mind when people talk about improving oral health globally!”.  So many came up to me after a luncheon or dinner and complimented us on making plans, taking action, actually doing something and encouraging our Fellows’ involvement.  One of our newest Honorary Fellows, Mr. Jim Schulz, has provided insight on appropriate governmental relations to develop as we move forward.  The signal beacon is far away, but our navigators will help guide us.
Oh, how I would like to turn this “craft” into a submersible.  Get below this storm and choppy waters until things clear.  We’ve perhaps lost a sail, maybe we’re relying on our battered engine room or emergency batteries, or perhaps we’re just trying to make sure that all our “oars” are moving in the same direction, tacking right and left to make headway.  Our crew is a dedicated, tough group, and we are ready for any challenges put in our way.  Your Captain is very appreciative of that!
We will continue to count on our Communications Officers to keep all the Commanders in touch with one another and to keep the Fleet together.  So long as we don’t lose our ability to communicate during this period of separation, we will continue to make forward progress in our mission.  We’re not lost, just pushed off course a bit by the storm.  We will find a time in the future to rejoin, rejoice, hoist a glass (or two if you choose) and relish in knowing that we survived the storm, we’re now in calmer waters and can enjoy smooth sailing again!
In Fellowship, 
Your Captain, 
James C. Setterberg, DDS
President ICD Section 1
Photo: President James C. Setterberg and his wife Sherrie taken during a planning site visit in Scottsdale, AZ last year.