Illness set the author back last week and there was no blog post. But, get your reading eyes ready, because I’m back and this was a whopper of a week. Let’s try to break it down as it happened!
Board of Trustees – Newbies & Guests
Tuesday we set the ball in motion early as Vicki and Margie and MDA President, Dr. Mike Berry, conducted orientation for two new board members. We welcome MDA Treasurer, Dr. Jon Copeland from the St. Louis area and New Dentist Committee rep, Dr. Emily Mattingly from Chillicothe. While both are familiar with the MDA through many volunteer roles, you’d be surprised how much procedure and background there is to learn in order to excel as a trustee. Kudos to them for jumping in!
When the full board convened, we kicked off the agenda with a visit from our dental school partners, Dr. Dwight McLeod, Dean at MOSDOH, and Dr. Marsha Pyle, Dean at UMKC. Also joining us as a guest for the entire meeting was Trent Finley, a D4 at UMKC who came to participate in Legislative Day and chose to sit in and learn more about the work of the BOT. This is a great way to get an honest look at all the issues and the discussions around them. As a reminder, you are always invited to attend a future BOT meeting. Just give Margie some advance notice.
Legislative Reception at the Millbottom
Tuesday evening, we gathered at the Millbottom for our MDA Legislative Reception. So much good can come from casual relationship building and networking with our elected officials. However, it takes more than a casual effort to get everyone together. Shantel, with help from the MDA team, worked to create a great environment and worked even harder to get a solid turnout from all sides. Amazingly the numbers lined up like Lotto tickets. We had 35 dentists plus 19 dental students to equal the 54 elected officials who attended. Guests arrived early and enjoyed great conversation. Many stayed and paid for dinner. I’ve included a few photos below, but check out the entire collection from the reception and all the events of the week in the MDA Flickr album.
Breakfast & Briefing
Our goal is to constantly improve our member’s experience on Legislative Day. Based on previous feedback, we added a breakfast at the Capitol Plaza early on Wednesday as an opportunity to accommodate late comers and pow wow as a group before going to the Capitol. Shantel did a solid job making members feel comfortable and informed about the issues. This confidence plays a big role in our success. Plus we always match first-timers and dental students with experienced members so every encounter offers a diverse representation.
Bunkered in our spot by the third floor rotunda, MDA staff welcomed our members and gave final packets and maps out before they ventured down the halls to convey our message. It’s cool to see our dentists and students all snazzied-up and using their own experience to reach out and communicate their concerns. There is NO substitute for this direct contact and education.
A word with influential leaders is always a valued opportunity. Several members were free for a short meeting with President Pro Tem of the Seante, Dave Schatz. Sadly the weather prevented Lt. Governor, Mike Kehoe, and Senate Floor Leader Caleb Rowden from attending, but we did have Senator Wayne Wallingford drop in. He’s sponsoring SB 935. MDA’s contracted lobbyist, Jorgen Schlemeier did an awesome job reviewing our concerns and Sen. Schatz listened eagerly and asked good questions. Trust me, a full office of dentists will capture your attention.
Throughout day, the hallways buzzed with activity as 52 dentists and 20 students performed lots of good networking as members got to know each other. Those who were free at the appointed time gathered for a group photo. We thank all those who attended. Some were prevented by the weather or had to leave early. We know it’s a big sacrifice to leave your practice mid-week. But it matters! Advocacy is a battle of constant engagement and when you show up informed and concerned, you get heard. All your efforts from MODentPAC contributions, to attending Legislative Day, to contacting your officials locally help us shape the future of your profession.
Keep it Going with Voter Voice
The MDA is using a new system to help members more easily advocate on behalf of the MDA and the dental profession called VoterVoice (VV). Through VV, members can easily contact legislators to deliver MDA advocacy messages. VV offers a streamlined interface, where members are alerted to the issue, matched to their correct elected officials, and guided through the message sending process in just seconds. When an advocacy alert is sent, the MDA will have a pre-written message that will highlight the important points we want to express. Members also will have the option to edit the message to provide more information or to share a personal example related to the issue. All of this is done from any device—desktop, laptop, tablet or phone—without having to enter any legislator contact information. The system delivers it once you click send. To confirm your contact information and opt-in to text alerts, text MDA to 50457.
What’s great about the MDA is despite all this high-level advocacy and discussion of important issues, we are still a family at heart. As such, we bear burdens and we double our joys. On the sad side, we send our condolences to MDA Finance Manager, Denise Lehmen, as her family grieves the loss of her mother-in-law, Wanda. And on the fun side, we all gear up for a memorable Super Bowl and shout in full throat, “Go Chiefs!” MDA President, Dr. Mike Berry, is a season-ticket holder and will be at the game in Miami for a trip of a lifetime (his practice even had a little pre-weekend party for their “Chief”) and President-Elect, Dr. Rob Tait, is another huge fan (proudly sporting his jersey at the Legislative Reception). If and when the Chiefs win, I fear for their blood pressure! Hey, we already have the Stanley Cup in St. Louis so let’s add the Lombardi Trophy in Kansas City!
The Week Ahead
February is upon us. So are the auditors. Tons more committee hearings are on tap (advocacy never sleeps!). And the week ends with a big strategic planning session for our friends at MDIS.
Quote of the Week
“I’ve been training all football season to eat at a Super Bowl party level.” — [insert your name]