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2016 International President's Message

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SpektorAlpha Omega International Dental Fraternity:

AO was founded to fight discrimination 108 years ago.  How fortunate for all of us to have our forefathers so visionary.  How grateful we are for the many years we have all had to be a part of an organization that has helped us grow in our profession, stand up for discrimination, be supportive of the family by including them and having our core Judaic values stand for who we are. 

I am so thankful that my husband Michael introduced me to this organization so long ago.  It's been a blast.  We have loved being a part of AO!  Thank you to my partner, Michael for your love, acceptance and leadership.  Your dedication to goodness is what keeps me going.  I am a very lucky lady!   I miss my son Jeremy, my niece Fran and my Daddy but it's the best when you have your family - Jordan, Pearl, Billy, and Joey here with me.  I love you all.

So if you will indulge me I would like to give you a snap shot of who I am and how I roll.  As I was growing up 3 things were very important to me: my family, Judaism and my career.  Dentistry merged business, science and the arts.  My Daddy wanted me to be a healer but he wanted me to cure cancer and I chose dentistry instead. 

My passion is relationships and my skill is connecting.  I connect people to their oral health and needs, I connect my Spektordental team with the goal of health and wellbeing and I love connecting people to people.

I am more action oriented and that's why I have earned the title of dictator in my household and my office. But I am not the dictator of AO. So you must all help me. We must all work together to create and reinvigorate AO.  To make it as impactful as ever, as relevant as ever and committed to honoring the past and keeping to the values of our beloved organization.  My job with the support of you all from the oldest PIP to our newest member is to listen, engage and implement our refreshed plan of action. 

I want to build on the success of the work of previous administrations to help create a response and strategy that both AO and our society is facing. To the young people in the room who don 't see this happening fast enough and to all of my more mature colleagues who see it happening too fast, be patient.

So WHY is AO important?

AO is unique because of its triangle.  Through the years it has been modified to

keep up with the times but never completely changed.  Professionalism, fraternalism and Judaism.  The professionalism is caring for the oral health of our patients, the fraternalism is really the family, our professional connections with inclusion of others and Judaism is Judaic values, doing the right thing.  We all have a clear commitment to

  • Oral health and wellness
  • Social justice and
  • Creating a healthy world.

AND we want AO to be a place that promotes this and creates ways for people to honor their passions and talents. 

As the winds of change are howling at us it became clear that we could be better as an organization and so at the request of Adam Stabholz at our board meeting this summer in London, we have embarked on a mission to help clarify who we are and what we must stand for-how to grow and change as we face the challenges of reality and the kind of impact we want to have in today's world and the world of tomorrow.  We all know that we can't predict the future but we can help shape ours.

Yesterday many of us had the experience of working with Justin Pollock.  He asked us to think back to our first AO convention -I want to share a secret-At my first meeting in Palm Spring 1981 I dreamt all night about being the first women AO President-although I am the 3 rd-it just shows that dreams can come true.  Justin is helping us move forward and refocus.   We are working on the elevator speech but after we give it we need to stop and ask if a potential new member or a relapsed member likes our purpose and is interested in joining us? Who can resist being a super hero-we help people smile!

Everything AO decides to do must be evaluated intentionally to make sure we are true to our values and the outcomes we want to advance.  We are proud of the work done by AO and the Henry Schein Cares Holocaust program for the last of the holocaust survivors.  Thank you to Henry Schein, Avi Wurman and all of the dedicated Alpha Omegans who serve this noble cause.  This program is just one example of the opportunities we have when we make public private partnerships. Thank you Bernice for your help and guidance. There are many more programs where our AO members are partnering all over the world to help improve the lives of their communities.

 Many of my greatest teachers, mentors and friends are a part of AO.  Bob Gelb who is here tonight gave me my first opportunity to start my practice and begin my journey.  Many of us have benefitted from the amazing things that AO gave to us.  We learned the latest dental education from the best of minds, have made worldwide friends keeping our family close, and learned leadership skills to benefit within and outside of the fraternity. We have had friends and family we loved and lost including this year the loss of frater, PIP Gordon Perlmutter of blessed memory and the recent loss of Sam Unger of blessed memory who always reminded us of where we came from and the possibilities AO has to make things better for all. Of course We are so happy to honor and celebrate Frater Ben Williamowsky's years of Contributions and dedication to AO.

AO undergraduate chapters are growing and AO's investment in their success is evident.  Helping our young people to become responsible leaders in an environment that has changed with students graduating in so much debt and the challenge of corporate intervention is a compelling reason to be a member of AO-we spend our time and energy on their development and mentoring. Gail Schupak is going to wear many hats this year and one is to be the connection to our students - thank you.

Our cultural and technical shifts present challenges and opportunities as well.  In a time of rapid communication, you would think we could stay in better contact and do more, but things move so quickly many of us have little time to reflect on what it all means and in a second something new pops up to distract us.  Our time together is so short and so much must be said.  WE MUST be BETTER WITH OUR COMMUNICATION.  Thanks to Adam Stabholz, Steve Spitz, and our President-elect, Mervyn Druian, we will embark on keeping in touch with all of our Alpha Omega members in different and new ways.

The world environment has become hostile to Israel-the worlds sympathies lie with those perceived to be the underdog and our little tribe has become the power. -intolerance and hatred are rearing their heads towards our people once again.  In my lifetime, if you choose it or not-the Jewish nation is threatened within itself and outside itself and we have all become so polarized.  Let AO be a community that keeps dialog open and continues to connect.  Thank you Adam for your ability to reach out and establish ways to keep people connected and thank you for your leadership and guidance this year.  You and Ayala have represented AO so beautifully and we all are grateful.  Kol Hakavod.

And so, my message is this.  We want to be an organization that people seek to belong and we must not lose sight of what AO represents.  If we must have our last official December family convention as we know it, next year in San Francisco because that what must be done, so be it.  We must acknowledge that old ways won't open new doors. 

Let us replace the old with opportunities for us all, opportunities that clearly advance the goals of our members and our communities.  Exactly how we do this is still in question and we know that we have to engage people to determine what the best options are moving forward.  We want to know what you want-we are listening and in the new year you will again get a survey-please make your voice heard.

Regional meetings like mini conventions can be planned- we will keep it at the local level with a global flare!  But there may be other possibilities too.  While we may not know for sure "what" the activities will be, we do know for sure that anything we do moving forward will have to answer the question " how will this advance the outcomes we want to see for people and their communities"?

we will know this works by increased involvement and community outreach.  Just remember that we will depend, especially our treasurer Alan Moltz, on increased membership to make everything possible.  Calling all pips -get ready, we need you and will be calling to engage you on this journey.  We want to reactivate our lapsed members and as of this minute, we want more associate members. 

My Dad, and my sons are joining AO in the new category of 'friends of AO' to show their support of their mom and daughter, we will reinvigorate our corporate membership, what an opportunity to bring our labs and business partners under the umbrella of AO to partner with our mission, value and vision.   The time is now- We want to expand our associate membership as well.  I am proud to announce that Spektordental, my wellness team will become associate members. Hygienists, assistants, and anyone interested in the oral health of their community is Welcome.  We will begin with our members bringing in their team -We can offer continuing education to the team so make sure you know about our Speakers Bureau, -what an opportunity for the expansion of AO.  We will refresh our materials and be clear about the categories to help you recruit on behalf of AO.  Thank you Mervyn for your help.

As you can imagine, we have been working hard to be prepared for the coming year!  Mike T, Thank you for always stepping in where service has been needed.  We are so fortunate for your dedication and love of AO.  Marc Rothman, you have shown your commitment to our fraternity and the philanthropic arm with determination, success and much enthusiasm.  Thank you for also for supporting our students and fellow AO'ers as well and living your philosophy of giving back. 

And to you Heidi our fearless executive director, thank you for serving AO with your heart and soul, we are happy to welcome Sara into our family too!

Our members have spoken and we are listening.  Please join us on the road ahead.  We are re aligning with our triangle.  Be a part of our journey and bring your friends along. I believe in AO-we are family.  I am humbled by your trust and look forward to an exciting year as your President.

May we all be blessed with collective wellness and peace and may we help bring our talents to those around us for AO and for the future.

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Heidi Weber, Executive Director
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