Leadership:
What's Your Leadership Path?

Curious about how leaders came into their roles? We asked current 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

Jiwon Lee
Columbia '14
2013-14 ASDA President
2012-13 Speaker of the House
 
Jiwon Lee  

What jump-started your involvement with ASDA?
I went to a chapter meeting as a first year and got excited about the community service opportunities. Once I attended Annual Session, my ASDA fever was unstoppable.

Did you serve as a chapter leader before this role?
Yes, I was fundraising co-chair and co-vice president at my chapter.

Why did you apply for national president?
I felt that I had to push myself to see if I could be the kind of leader that ASDA deserved.

If you didn’t get this role, what would you have done?
I would have loved to be Speaker of the House again! Or, I may have applied for chair of the Leadership Development Work Group because I think leadership development is ASDA’s next big thing.

What skills are necessary for national president?
Good people skills are number one! Diplomacy, communication skills, follow through, decisiveness, fairness and being able to encourage others.

What has been your biggest challenge as a national leader?
Work/life balance. I have to carve out time to recharge or I will be one tired cranky student. Working out or hanging out with friends may seem like a luxury sometimes when you’re really busy but they’re actually necessities.

What has been your biggest “growth” moment as a leader?
Realizing through dozens of conversations what an honor it is to represent our amazing 20,000 students. I get such a warm welcome everywhere I go from every imaginable group because ASDA has such a great, professional reputation and I don’t take that lightly.

What advice do you have to someone considering running for national president?
Be very humble throughout the process, especially if you’re elected. It is a privilege for you to represent your school and all of ASDA’s members, so always use your voice to advance others’ esteem for ASDA. There will be times when you feel overwhelmed or overscheduled, and you must reach out (to fellow leaders, members, staff) when those times happen. A humble heart and honesty always work, especially if you let the following question be your guiding light: What is best for the members of ASDA?

What is the biggest difference between chapter/district leadership and national leadership?
National leadership needs to strategize and think about how it can maximize relationships with other organizations and academic institutions to best serve our members, whereas chapter and district leadership may not have the time or human resources to make these relationships work for all 20,000 members. By the very definition of what a chapter or district is, each individual chapter or district may not be able to know what another one’s concerns or immediate issues are. National leadership can ensure that all voices are heard while steering the ship in one direction.

Vice President

Tyler Rumple
Washington '14
2013-14 ASDA Vice President
2012-13 District Trustee
 
Tyler Rumple  

What jump-started your involvement with ASDA?
I was mentored from an upper classmate, Dr. Brittany Dean, 2011-12 vice president. I saw the pride she had in her involvement and how she felt it made her a well-rounded dentist. I knew that ASDA would give me the necessary tools to become a great leader and a great dentist.

Did you serve as a chapter leader before this role?
Yes, chapter vice president, treasurer and class representative.

Why did you apply for your current national position?
Once you catch the ASDA fever, you can't get enough. When I was District trustee, I loved problem solving for the larger group who elected me to represent them. The pride of serving others is why I applied for my position on the Executive Committee.

If you didn’t get this role, what would you have done?
I would have continued to lobby with the Washington State Dental Association and mentored underclassmen at my chapter.

What skills are necessary for a vice president?
The ability to make tough decisions for the greater good that not everybody will like.

What has been your biggest challenge as a national leader?
Learning that you can't please everyone, every moment.

What advice do you have to someone considering running for your current role?
This is an amazing opportunity, but you have to organize yourself. With 100+ e-mails a day at times, and multiple responsibilities, it’s somewhere between a part-time and full-time job during dental school. Keep up with your work and don't fall behind.

What is the biggest difference between chapter/district leadership and national leadership?
National leaders are no longer thinking in the weeds, or the day-to-day business. National leaders are strategizing for 5-10 years down the road and are looking at the 35,000-foot view to help make the association better.

District Trustee

Onika Patel
Arizona '14
2013-14 District Trustee
 
Onika Patel  

What jump-started your involvement with ASDA?
The first meeting I ever attended was a regional meeting as a D1. I met many national leaders and made some great friendships during that meeting. I caught ASDA fever and wanted to bring it back to my chapter.

Did you serve as a chapter leader before this role?
I was involved heavily in my chapter before my Board role. I started as D1 class representative and learned as much about the organization as I could. I later used this knowledge and experience as our chapter vice president and eventually, chapter president. I had the privilege of being a part of the chapter when we won Ideal ASDA and that was such a wonderful feeling to see our efforts recognized at a national level.

Why did you apply for District trustee?
I remember being at my first national meeting and noticing that the District trustees were great public speakers, well informed and professional. As a D1, I was surprised they were students just like me. I set a goal that one day I wanted to attain that level of knowledge about the organization, dentistry, and advocacy, and have the professional skills that those trustees had.

If you didn’t get this role, what would you have done?
I have always been involved in my District cabinet. I think it is a great stepping-stone or way to learn more about the trustee position. A well-run District cabinet is essential for a trustee and District’s success. If I didn’t get this role, I would have remained involved in a District cabinet role in order to be able to support the trustee and our District.

What skills are necessary for a District trustee?
Organization, effective communication skills and flexibility are essential. Trustees plan and coordinate our district meeting. We work closely with many members and diverse chapters. Being flexible to their unique needs and developing a district meeting that attempts to satisfy what each chapter is looking for in this leadership meeting is important.

What has been your biggest challenge as a national leader?
Trying to accommodate everyone. Every chapter has it’s own needs, strengths and challenges. You have to wear different hats to help overcome challenges or provide resources for chapters, but it has been an excellent learning experience.

What has been your biggest “growth” moment as a leader?
The opportunities to present and improvement in public speaking. This was a main leadership development goal of mine and I have been grateful for the opportunities to speak at various dental schools and meetings.

What advice do you have to someone considering running for your current role?
Learn as much as you can about the chapters in your district as well as their challenges and successes. It is important to know these in order to connect chapters to one another as resources and to support the District as a whole. Also, be involved in helping plan your District meeting and get involved in your District Cabinet to learn as much about what the role entails so you know what to expect.

District Trustee

Lauren Vitkus
Buffalo '14
2013-14 District Trustee
 
Lauren Vitkus  

What jump-started your involvement with ASDA?
I am fortunate to be at a school with strong chapter involvement. Following a presentation during D1 orientation, I decided I wanted to be involved in ASDA. I ran for a position as one of our class ASDA representatives, then spent that year being introduced to ASDA. The following year, I was elected our chapter president elect and then served as chapter president during my third year.

Did you serve as a chapter leader before this role?
Yes, ASDA representative D1, president elect D2 and chapter president D3. I am still involved locally as our immediate past president.

Why did you apply for District trustee?
As my term as chapter president was ending I knew my ASDA journey was not yet complete. I had more to give, so I ran for District trustee

If you didn’t get this role, what would you have done?
I would have explored the option of being involved in our District Cabinet and would have remained active at my chapter level, as I currently am.

What advice do you have to someone considering running for your current role?
It’s imperative to get to know your District before running for trustee. You want and need to know the people and ideas that you would be representing. If interested in this role reach out, meet and get to know all of the chapter presidents and leaders in your District. And absolutely pick the brain of the current trustee! We are all more than willing to help and can be a valuable asset to you as we are currently living in the role.

What is the biggest difference between chapter/district leadership and national leadership?
The obvious difference is that a national leader represents more than just his or her local members. Serving in a national role is an amazing experience, but with this experience comes great responsibility. A national leader must fully understand ASDA’s structure and strategic plan, and needs to understand and fulfill the duties of their position.

District Trustee

Sammy Gill
Boston '14
2013-14 District Trustee
 
Sammy Gill  

What jump-started your involvement with ASDA?
I went to a regional meeting and met our district trustee at the time. Her kind-hearted and supportive nature was magnetic. I asked her for advice about what I could do to become more involved at the national level and she urged me to apply for a cabinet position that year.

Did you serve as a chapter leader before this role?
Yes, legislative liaison, editor-in-chief and treasurer. Without having the knowledge about how to run an effective local chapter, I do not think I could help guide and serve as a resource for local leaders in my position as a trustee.

Why did you apply for District trustee?
I wanted to help my peers, act as a resource and network with people around the country. The issues that dental students face are so important, and unique. I wanted to be involved with the premier organization that was tackling issues like student debt and licensure.

If you didn’t get this role, what would you have done?
I did not get the role of trustee the first time that I ran for the position! Rather than discourage me, it motivated me to develop my leadership skills further. I spent the following year educating myself about ASDA policy and getting to know my peers a little better. In addition, I ran for an executive position at the local chapter level.

What skills do you feel are necessary for the trustee role?
You need to have passion advancing the voice of student dentists. You should also be able to communicate effectively, be receptive to criticism and love working in teams.

What has been your biggest challenge as a national leader?
Traveling can be really hard. I wish I could teleport to where I needed to be without ever driving or getting on an airplane.

Contributing Editor

Megan Guthman
Alabama '14
2013-14 Contributing Editor
2012-13 Chicago Extern
 
Megan Guthman  

What jump-started your involvement with ASDA?
When I was a D1, I attended a presentation about the summer externship at ASDA's office in Chicago. It sounded like so much fun, I figured I had nothing to lose by applying. Miraculously, I was chosen for the externship and that's where my ASDA journey began. The externship introduced me to different leadership opportunities. The next year, I applied to be a contributing editor on ASDA's editorial board and I have loved working with dental student authors across the country.

Did you serve as a chapter leader before this role?
No.

Why did you apply for the editorial board?
During my ASDA administrative externship, I sat in on an Editorial Board meeting. I loved watching the teamwork and creativity that went into their brainstorming sessions.

If you didn’t get this role, what would you have done?
I love ASDA's publications, so if I did not get appointed to the editorial board, I would have continued to contribute to Mouthing Off, ASDA News, Mouth and my chapter newsletter as much as possible.

What skills are necessary to be a contributing editor?
The editorial board requires extreme organization. You have to stay on top of e-mails and deadlines. Ed board members also have to be creative – we often have to brainstorm last minute and think on our toes!

What advice do you have to someone considering running for the editorial board?
When I look back on my time in dental school, my most memorable experiences will be with ASDA. I have made fantastic friendships, and it has given me tremendous pride in our profession. Don't fall into the trap of thinking you're "too busy." If you prioritize, you have plenty of time to devote to ASDA, and you will never regret holding a national leadership position!

ADPAC Student Director

Emily Tschetter
Nebraska '14
2013-14 ADPAC Student Director
2012-13 Legislative Coordinator
 
Emily Tschetter  

What jump-started your involvement with ASDA?
ASDA was a fun club, but I really caught the fever at Lobby Day 2011. I was selected by my chapter leaders to represent our school and I was so impressed and inspired! I wanted to be a part of the action to ensure dentistry was (and is) maintained as the profession I had been so excited to join.

Did you serve as a chapter leader before this role?
No. I was just lucky enough to get the opportunity to represent my chapter as the only D1 chosen to attend Lobby Day. It helped that I had a genuine interest in politics and advocacy, but I was a regular member when I attended.

Why did you apply for ADPAC Student Director?
I was encouraged by local and regional ASDA leadership to apply for a regional legislative coordinator position to represent District 8 and 9 last year and I wanted to maintain my involvement in advocacy efforts for dentistry. The ADPAC student director position fit my individual skills and interests perfectly and a few close ASDA friends told me to give it a try! We are all busy with school, but my experience has been enriched 100-fold by my ASDA participation and leadership roles.

If you didn’t get this role, what would you have done?
I applied for a similar position in the Council on Advocacy as my second choice. If I hadn't been selected for either, I would have been content to maintain my local and district involvement. As a D4, things change a little on the local level as far as leadership roles because now I am more of a mentor to encourage other dental students at my school to explore their interests and talents for ASDA.

What skills are necessary ADPAC Student Director?
Communication, time management and confidence! I interact with the ADA's ADPAC Board members and it's been imperative that I communicate the needs and interests of ASDA and confidently represent our cause.

What has been your biggest challenge as a national leader?
The time commitment. It's difficult to take the weekends off in April and September for the national leadership training and to be able to attend the national ASDA meetings. My classmates who aren't in similar leadership roles don't have the added time commitment, so it's hard to balance that sometimes.

What advice do you have to someone considering running for ADPAC Student Director?
Learn as much as your can about the role of advocacy in the dental profession. Dentists want to see that there are students who will carry on the legacy of impactful advocacy, and they will serve as great mentors as you figure things out. As a student, you arguably have more of an opportunity to impact the political agenda than you will when you're out practicing, because lawmakers make time for students and want to hear our perspective.

What is the biggest difference between chapter/district leadership and national leadership?
The commitment to understanding the issues is a bit greater, but generally they are similar. Chapter/local leaders work very hard and have constant projects underway, and national leadership is at times a bit busy, too. Rather than being responsible for 200 ASDA members and their understanding of ADPAC and the role of advocacy, I'm trying to be a coach for each of those local leaders so all dental students are hearing a consistent message. So, similar job, just bigger scale.

Council Chair

Lia Kalliath
Alabama '14
2013-14 Council on Communications Chair
2012-13 Chicago Extern
 
Lia Kalliath  

What jump-started your involvement with ASDA?
I served on a philanthropy committee at my chapter, then I became social chair. Local involvement led to my selection to attend ASDA's regional meeting in Raleigh, NC, where I learned more about national ASDA. After that, I decided to apply for the summer extern position in Chicago.

Did you serve as a chapter leader before this role?
Yes, I currently serve as my chapter’s vice president and previously held positions of VP-elect and social chair.

Why did you apply for the Council on Communications chair position?
As an extern, I worked closely with the different departments of ASDA and found the communications aspect particularly interesting. I love thinking of innovative ways to improve the communications between national ASDA and its members.

If you didn’t get this role, what would you have done?
The first year I applied to be an extern I didn’t get selected. This only made me work harder to strengthen my application for the following year and reach out to existing national leaders to find out how to get involved nationally. I would have been happy with any role on the Council on Communications, whether it had been an associate of chair position (both are critical to the success of the council and involve different skill sets).

What skills are necessary for this role?
Initiative, decisiveness, dependability and the ability to effectively delegate tasks. It is important to be a team player but also to be able to lead a group.

What has been your biggest challenge as a national leader?
Being a national leader is different from any other leadership role I have previously served in because you are working with students from all across America. Different schedules/time zones make coordinating more difficult.

What advice do you have to someone considering running for your current role?
Try and try again. Also, reach out to current leaders so that they can get to know you and your passions.

What is the biggest difference between chapter/district leadership and national leadership?
National leaders collaborate with people you only see two or three times a year. Much of the work you accomplish is done via conference calls, e-mails and Google docs due to the limited face time.


View all the National Leadership Positions.

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