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Leadership:
What's Your Leadership Path?

Curious about how leaders came into their roles? We asked current and past national leaders in various positions to tell us what led them to volunteer with ASDA. Select the role below to learn about the skills required to do their job, their biggest "growth" moments, and advice for future leaders.

Each path to leadership is unique, but their advice is consistent: "Get involved when you're ready and follow your passion."

President

Christian Piers
Colorado '16
2015-16 ASDA President
2014-15 Editor-in-Chief, Editorial Board
2013-14 Contributing Editor, Editorial Board
 
Christian Piers  

Why did you apply for Executive Committee?
Whenever I’m passionate about something, I try to do as much as I can to strengthen it. During my first two-and-a-half years of ASDA involvement, I became deeply dedicated to ASDA’s mission and had some of my most rewarding experiences in dental school. I felt I could to do the most for the association as a member of the Executive Committee, so I decided to run for the position at the 2015 ASDA Annual Session in Boston. 

Did you serve as a chapter leader and/or national leader before this role?
Before applying for the Executive Committee, I served Colorado ASDA as an alternate delegate, president-elect and chapter president. I also served at the national level as a contributing editor and editor-in-chief. Each of these experiences taught me something different about organized dentistry and helped me better understand the challenges facing dental students across the country. 

What are the skills necessary for national president?
Because the president serves as the official spokesperson of ASDA, they need to be a strong communicator, facilitator and consensus-builder. They should not only be comfortable with public speaking, but should also able to navigate negotiations in small, focused groups of decision-makers without alienating key stakeholders. As chair of ASDA’s Board of Trustees, the president should have the ability to diffuse emotional intensity and unpack dense discussions so board members can make well-informed decisions to guide the association. Perhaps most importantly, the president should be able to put aside his or her own desires in order to listen to the ideas of a disparate group, set goals based on group consensus and mobilize group resources to carry out those goals. 

What advice do you have for someone considering applying for Executive Committee?
The Executive Committee runs the association between board meetings, so it’s important to understand the workings of ASDA from multiple perspectives. While it’s difficult to become an expert in every aspect of ASDA’s mission—from communications to membership to advocacy—one can build a working knowledge of ASDA’s key initiatives by seeking out a variety of leadership roles at the chapter, district and national levels. Those considering a role on the Executive Committee should also take advantage of opportunities for public speaking, and will gain a deeper understanding of the challenges facing dental students by reviewing past issues of ASDA News and the quarterly association journal, Mouth. 

Vice President

Adrien Lewis
Houston '16
2015-16 ASDA Vice President
2014-15 Council on Membership Chair
2013-14 Council on Membership Associate
 
Adrien Lewis  

Why did you apply for Executive Committee?
I wanted to further my involvement in national ASDA. I’m passionate about making a positive change in the dental profession. After two years of growing in my leadership and involvement through ASDA, I wanted to continue my commitment. I saw that commitment in representing the association and making sure the dental student voice was heard amongst the dental community and allied organizations.  

Did you serve as a chapter leader and/or national leader before this role?
I served as council associate and council chair to the national ASDA Council on Membership. 

What are the skills necessary for national vice president?
Time management, good communication, patience, determination and flexibility. This position requires a great deal of time in addition to your responsibilities as a dental student, so time management is critical to make sure you are devoting the appropriate time to both “jobs”. You will be in constant communication with your fellow EC and Board of Trustees members so prompt and respectful communication is essential for collaboration. The EC position consists of many experiences representing the student voice at meetings and conferences with those in agreement or disagreement with your beliefs so staying patient, determined and flexible are critical for building relationships and tackling those responsibilities. 

What advice do you have for someone considering applying for Executive Committee?
Evaluate your mental and physical availability to commit to a 24/7 responsibility. Talk with your professors and deans to make sure you are on track with your grades and requirements because this position will be a bit time-consuming. You might also want to consider family members or spouses because a significant amount of your time might be spent traveling to meetings and/or conferences. It is better to work together and be prepared in advance rather than once you are already in the role.  

District Trustee

Sohaib Soliman
Washington '17
2015-16 District 10 Trustee
 
Sohaib Soliman  

Why did you apply for district trustee?
I actually applied for district trustee during my first year of dental school. I was excited because I had somewhat of a more extensive background in student advocacy than the average dental student had had during undergrad. I saw the position of trustee as being an outlet for me to continue in student advocacy and involvement at a level similar to what I was used to. However, I honestly couldn’t have been happier that I lost, as I had an opportunity to work closely with the elected trustee on her cabinet and saw what the position truly entailed. I fell in love it with it even more and ran again for the position the following year. 

Did you serve as a chapter leader and/or national leader before this role?
I served as the chapter community service chair as a first year (with heavy involvement in legislative affairs), and the district legislative chair as a second year. 

What are the skills necessary for this position?
The major skills necessary are communication, team leadership and time management. However I would like to add to the list patience and optimism; not really skills, but very important. You will experience times when your team is working with its back against the wall or the morale is starting to drop a little, and you need to be the one to keep everyone smiling and working hard! 

What advice do you have for someone considering applying for district trustee?
Definitely establish a good relationship with your administration, if possible, before running for trustee. This position involves a lot of travel and a large workload in addition to your already-hectic school work. Having professor and administration support during your term will make your life so much less stressful school-wise. Nothing is worse than taking zeros for assignments or not receiving excused absences for your time with ASDA.  

Speaker of the House

Paula Cohen
Florida '17
2015-16 Speaker of the House of Delegates
 
Paula Cohen  

Why did you apply for speaker of the House?
At NLC 2014, I was inspired to serve ASDA on a national level. After learning more about the policies and governance of ASDA, I felt that my background and passion best matched the position, so I went for it! 

Did you serve as a chapter leader and/or national leader before this role?
I served as my chapter Legislative Liaison and my District Legislative Chair. 

What are the skills necessary for this position?
You definitely need to be detail-oriented and have a passion for policy. Being level-headed, neutral and having a willingness to learn how to conduct a House session with parliamentary procedure are also a must! 

What advice do you have for someone considering applying for speaker of the House?
See if you can obtain a copy of the American Institute of Parliamentarians Standard Code of Parliamentary Procedure to give you an idea about the motions and procedures you'll be responsible for as speaker. 

Council Chair

James Wanamaker
Buffalo '16
2015-16 Council on Advocacy Chair
2014-15 Districts 1-3 Legislative Coordinator, Council on Advocacy
 
James Wanamaker  

Why did you apply for the Council on Advocacy chair position?
To make a lasting impact in advocating for our profession and patients. This role was closely related to my interests and skills. I had previously served as the Legislative Coordinator for Districts 1-3 and wanted to help advance ASDA's strategic plan initiatives related to advocacy.  

What jump-started your involvement with ASDA?
I first got involved with ASDA at the 2013 National Dental Student Lobby Day as a first-year dental student. Our profession and ability to autonomously treat patients are constantly at risk from outside forces. Learning about these issues inspired me to get involved and apply for local, then national, positions. 

What are the skills necessary for this position?
It is important to run meetings efficiently and be able to delegate tasks among the group. Time management skills are essential. A background knowledge of ASDA policy and understanding of how government functions are also beneficial. For me, previously serving on the Council for a year gave me the experience necessary to lead it the following year.  

What advice do you have for someone considering applying for this position?
I encourage someone interested in this position to reach out to the current chair and members of the Council on Advocacy. Learn as much as possible about dental advocacy before applying. I recommend subscribing to the ASDA, ADA, and AGD action alerts to stay current on the issues affecting dentistry.  

Electronic Editor

Stephanie Ting
Southen California '16
2015-16 Electronic Editor, Editorial Board
2014-15 Contributing Editor, Editorial Board
 
Stephanie Ting  

Why did you apply for the electronic editor position?
After a year as the 2014-2015 contributing editor, I decided to apply for electronic editor because I wanted to try something new! Serving as an editor for Mouth and ASDA News was an amazing experience. However, the blog is truly where my passion lies. I've been an avid blogger since I was a pre-dental student, chronicling my journey to becoming a dental student in my personal blog Mirror and Explorer. As a result, overseeing ASDA's Mouthing Off blog has been an easy and fun transition.  

What jump-started your involvement with ASDA?
Catching ASDA fever at the first annual National Leadership Conference jump-started my involvement with ASDA! I was surrounded by a large network of dental students who had passion and fervor that transcended the walls of dental school. It was an amazing experience meeting new friends from across the country, learning about things I would never learn in a dental school lecture hall and being a part of something bigger than myself. At that moment, I vowed to become a national leader in ASDA and spread "ASDA fever" to other dental students.  

What are the skills necessary for this position?
Creativity to come up with interesting and unique blog topics, organizational abilities to stay afloat of deadlines and the ability to reach out and recruit authors from across the United States.  

What advice do you have for someone considering applying for this position?
Don't give up if you don't get a national position the first time you apply! I had to apply twice before getting on the Editorial Board. Honestly, getting involved in a national ASDA position truly transformed my dental school experience.  

Video Production Manager

Nicholas Bumacod
Western '16
2015-16 Video Editor, Council on Communications
 
Nicholas Bumacod  

Why did you apply for the video editor position?
I personally love making videos. My background comes primarily from making parody music videos. I also am a strong advocate for organized dentistry, serving as the California Dental Association Student Delegate for my class. The video editor, or now Video Production Manager, position seemed like a great way for me to bridge my interests in making videos while still advocating on behalf of dentistry. I knew I had the technical know-how to produce quality videos and was excited for the challenge of creating more professional-style videos to better serve ASDA's members.  

What jump-started your involvement with ASDA?
During my second year of dental school I attended my first ever Annual Session in Anaheim, Calif., as I had been invited to present my research. It was then that I caught the infamous "ASDA Fever" and was hooked! 

What are the skills necessary for this position?
The Video Production Manager position requires several skills. First, you must be able to lead and work as part of a team. Second, being familiar with pre-and post-production planning is crucial. It's important that you know how to create talking points, a storyboard and edit videos. Third, it is necessary to have a solid foundation in filming equipment such as camera, lighting and sound.  

What advice do you have for someone considering applying for this position?
Anyone considering applying for this position will not regret it. Having the opportunity to work with an awesome team of national leaders and shape the future of ASDA is a fantastic experience. It is important to note that the position requires someone who is excellent at time management as there is a significant time commitment required to attend all necessary meetings and work on various projects. I highly recommend all interested students apply!  


View all the National Leadership Positions.

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