2018-19 Executive Committee & Speaker Candidates

At Annual Session 2018, the House of Delegates will elect its 2018-19 Executive Committee and speaker of the House of Delegates. On the first day the House meets, Executive Committee and speaker candidates address the House and present their platforms. Voting takes place on the last day of House meetings (only credentialed delegates may vote). Balloting takes place throughout the day and the president, vice presidents and speaker are announced by the close of the meeting. After Annual Session, the 2018-19 national leaders will officially begin their terms.

Executive Committee

The Executive Committee consists of the president, two vice presidents and the executive director. The president serves as chair of the Board of Trustees which oversees the development and implementation of the association strategic plan and approves the annual budget. The president also serves as the chair of the Executive Committee, which is responsible for managing association business between meetings of the Board of Trustees. The vice presidents serve as members of the Board of Trustees as well as members of the Executive Committee. 

Executive Committee candidates (in alphabetical order):  

Christine Chen, Washington '19
Chen- Christine-02Short answer questions | CV

“I’m investing in myself, I’m investing in others, and I’m investing in my cause. I know if I persist it will pay back in dividends and it always does.” – Simon Sinek

Joining ASDA taught me the importance of adding value to my colleagues and to our overarching mission. To many students, strong engagement in ASDA can seem like a huge investment. We are often busy balancing school with personal life. Yet, leadership training and worldly experiences make ASDA a worthwhile investment. ASDA protects and advances our rights because of the investment of time, money, and energy made by our members. Therefore, the ASDA I envision for tomorrow is one in which all our general members feel uninhibited to contribute toward, as well as a robust organization that invests great value in the general members. This can only be done by maintaining financial stability, promoting grassroots advocacy, and continuing to grow as a community.

ASDA has an obligation to use our resources to benefit members directly and to protect the longevity of our organization. In the last strategic plan, our resources were leveraged to accomplish many incredible things such as advancing licensure reform and increasing our predental membership. As we continue to grow, we must re-evaluate how resources are spent to ensure that they provide each member the greatest return on investment. On a regular basis we must monitor the distribution and effective use of ASDA resources. Additionally, if elected I would seek to forge strong relationships with partners outside ASDA to grow non-dues revenue.

Furthermore, ASDA was founded to protect and advance the rights of dental students. This is an important initiative we must continue to stay vigilant and act upon. I envision increasing grassroots advocacy by furthering the Molar Bear program, sharing and educating members across districts on current issues, and continuing to further our mission nationally.

Finally, the intangible benefits of ASDA make ASDA Fever unanimously contagious. Forming lifelong friendships among colleagues unites and allows us to build a community committed to promoting the welfare of our members. Our love of ASDA unites us, but our passions for serving in different capacities provides us an enriching experience in dental school. Many students are driven by their passion to mentor others and develop personally as leaders. We must provide more organized leadership training starting with our general members. With extra training, I envision more members selfstarting and enriching the dental school experience to their colleagues and communities. Others are driven by their passion to serve those in need outside the dental community. By expanding the Community Outreach Initiative, we can support students by providing resources and assistance to those who want to chase their passion by serving a specific population.

Ultimately, my passion to serve in ASDA stems from the personal growth I have seen among each of our members during my past three years. It is my hope to be a part of the future of ASDA that will carve the path for many future generations
Molly Conlon, Boston '19

Conlon- Molly-02Short answer questions | CV

Moving into 2018, ASDA will be setting its sights on the future with the 2018-2020 Strategic Plan created by this year’s Board of Trustees. What will that future hold? How does our organization reflect the goals, passions, and needs of our membership? As president, I will work with the 2018-2019 Executive Committee to ensure that we consistently move the association into this vision of the future while putting the needs of our student members first.

Chapter Growth and Communication

As the Executive Committee, it is vital to understand the diverse range of passions and needs of our chapters. In order to provide more transparency and to better serve our entire membership, I would like to begin a three-part approach to chapter communication to help our members become more engaged, informed and empowered. I hope to utilize ASDA’s communication networks to highlight the diverse activities, initiatives and strengths of our chapters as an inspiration and motivation to other members. I want to provide monthly updates from the Board of Trustees and expand the National  Town Hall Meetings pioneered by this year’s Executive Committee as an interactive method to ask questions and  improve awareness of national efforts. Finally, I plan to provide resources to chapters to help leaders identify new ways to engage a wider range of members, inspire younger leaders and improve awareness of the resources and benefits that students receive with ASDA membership.

Grassroots Advocacy Efforts and Education

As we look to the future of ASDA, we also need to look to the future of our students as they enter their careers as dental professionals. Our members are burdened by unethical and outdated pathways to licensure, staggering student debt and barriers to providing care for the underserved. At the national level, I will continue to work together with the ADA, ADEA, and dental schools to address the challenges our students face. However, change begins at the local level and requires informed and motivated leaders to mobilize our members to advocate for their future. With the Council on Advocacy, I hope to improve access to information, advocacy training and national support for chapter leaders to promote local and national issues, collaborate with state dental societies and identify routes for change in their states.

Leadership Development

The strength of our organization lies in our local student leaders, and I plan to provide a better support network for chapter leaders to develop their leadership skills, discuss their challenges and ask questions of those who have overcome them in the past. Robert Ingersoll said, “We rise by lifting others.” This has been my passion as a district trustee and a chapter leader, and I believe that in order to grow our chapters and our organization, we need to identify leaders with diverse passions and strengths and empower them to create their vision within ASDA. As the Executive Committee, we must reach out to chapter leaders to create better communication and to better address the needs and challenges they face at the local level.

Alexandra Howell, Georgia '19

Howell- Alexandra-02Short answer questions | CV

I have seen the impact of ASDA on our dental schools, our current lives as students, and our future careers — and it motivates me to work harder and apply my passions to my daily dental school life. I want to be in a position to use my skills and talents in ASDA to share its influence with students from all backgrounds, cultures, and hometowns. With ASDA, dental school no longer remains a “means to an end.” Instead, ASDA allows us to transform our time in dental school into some of the most pivotal years of our professional lives. We may start out in dental school just hoping to make it through — but ASDA steps in and challenges us to stretch the boundaries of our comfort zones. It’s what lies beyond the comfort zone that has the power to engage our true potential as leaders.

As President, I would be honored to be a part of the impact that transforms students into lifelong leaders, expanding their experiences beyond their individual dental schools. I am excited to help unify and educate all of our members about the issues that affect them now and will affect them in the future. I will bring a new focus of strengthening the infrastructure and finding innovative ways to increase efficiency and engage members. All of the roles I have played in ASDA so far  have prepared me for this exact position and have provided the knowledge and confidence to move forward.

I am excited when I think about the opportunities to work with the next Board to start implementing the 2018-2020 ASDA Strategic Plan. Knowing how much effort went into that plan this past year, I will be that much more motivated to see it carried out. Ultimately, my main goals of being a part of this organization are to develop leaders, engage members, and strengthen relationships with other professions, organizations, and dental school faculty members. The collaboration among all of these groups is what makes ASDA stronger and united. It equips us to meet the needs of every dental student individually. With this collaboration, our efforts to advocate for students become one cohesive voice, giving us power over the current issues.

Some of those issues, like licensure reform and student debt, are ones that we might not see change in immediately. But with patience and smart decision-making, I am confident that ASDA will be one of the main proponents that ameliorates dental students' lives and better prepares them for their careers. One of the most important steps we need to take is to continue to inform ASDA members on a local level so that they can be more connected to district and national- level ASDA. This increased communication will hopefully translate into a greater understanding and appreciation for what ASDA is working towards on every level. Together, we can break down the walls that separate our leaders, making every ASDA member feel empowered and included in the major decisions that we face.

Jeffrey Kerst, Louisiana '19

Kerst- Jeffrey-02Short answer questions | CV

John F. Kennedy once said, “There are risks and costs to action. But they are far less than the ... risks of comfortable inaction.” ASDA has taken risks, and there have been costs associated with these risks. With a new website and updates to the office space for our staff, we have made necessary changes. But we cannot get complacent. We must continue to responsibly evolve to remain on the cutting edge, rather than the bleeding edge. We are the advocates for policy that affect how we practice. We are the energy in our schools, developing leaders and solving problems. We are the defenders of the well-being of our patients, but we cannot sacrifice our own well-being in the process.

Dental school is expensive, and the cost is increasing. Working part-time jobs and eating ramen just doesn’t cut it anymore. I want to build on the success of the first ADA Dentist and Student Lobby Day to increase participation and collaboration with ADA leadership. We must continue to work alongside dentists for better options to re-finance student loans. If how we practice is decided by the necessity to pay back loans, we will suffer, and our communities will suffer. To do this, ASDA has to be more than another membership choice. ASDA must be a necessity to both pre-doctoral and pre-dental students. Our market share is staggering, with over 90% of dental students. But, how many of your classmates have caught ASDA Fever? How many keep it? As chapter vice president, I felt the struggles firsthand. As trustee, I focused on growing the camaraderie between chapters, promoting idea sharing and communication. We don’t have to invent the wheel for a chapter to succeed – we just need to share how we succeeded. I want to continue to  bridge the gap between the national and chapter levels through online town halls and social media to highlight the best of our actions.

When our chapters and leaders come together, amazing feats are accomplished. My district meeting planning team planned the first ASDA meeting outside the continental U.S. in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The week of the meeting came. As did Hurricane Maria. Hundreds of hours of planning vanished. That didn’t matter. Our friends mattered. My phone rang around the clock. Dental students and dentists were begging for ways to help students they’d never met, and tens of thousands of dollars made its way to those who needed it most, supplying basic necessities like breakfast to help restore normalcy.

In summary, as a member of the executive committee, I will be dedicated to overcoming the challenges we face in debt reform and licensure. I am focused on creating a valuable membership with tangible and intangible benefits that dental students need. The well-being of dental students remains my top priority. I am honored to have served as delegate and trustee and hope to continue to serve on the executive committee.

Roopali Kulkarni, Pennsylvania '19 

Kulkarni- Roopali-02Short answer questions | CV

The crux of our association is our members. Although we are aware of what the letters of ASDA stand for, we at times forget that the “S”, or student, is the most important part. ASDA originated in order to advocate on behalf of student rights, especially in local school settings. From that point, we have grown into an organization that attempts to advance every part of the dental school experience and ease the transition from pre-dental to dental student to dental professional life. The association prides itself on remembering that although each members’ experience is unique, we are a community with shared interests, goals, and passions. The best way to move forward in the ever-changing field we have chosen is to relationship build. The more we learn from each other and create genuine connections, the more we can understand our own experiences, cater to the genuine needs of our members, and become a proactive rather than a reactive force. The first step is to be introspective in what our association stands for, what benefits members currently reap, and what our members genuinely need. The issues that affect us as dental students, from our rising student debt to our various pathways to licensure to the stress of the dental school environment in both academic and clinical settings need to be addressed on all levels of our tripartite structure. As an organization, we must continue to work towards addressing rising student debt and the financial burden of our career choices. We must continue to work towards implementing a pathway to licensure that meets the professional and ethical standards of our field. We must continue to work towards reducing student stress, creating safe spaces to discuss mental health and wellness, and to work with administrations in order to address issues within our school settings. With the implementation of the 2018-2020 Strategic Plan, the Executive Committee will need to spearhead the initiatives set forth to restrengthen our member- driven organization, address relationships with the ADA, other national organizations, and school administrations, and to establish a more forward-thinking association. We need to return to our bylaws, re-evaluate what our policies are supporting, and how we as an association are benefiting the greater society while protecting our members from growing threats to our profession. We are stronger when we present a united front to the parties we work with. As the go-to organization for the thousands of dental students across the country, we have an obligation to band together, learn from one another, and continue to uphold ourselves and our members to the highest standard. We need to return back to the basic tenants of our organization, from professional development to leadership building to advocacy to outreach and service to wellness. Once we remind ourselves why our association was created, what we stand for, and how our various pillars can be used to progress our association forward, we can continue working on the issues that are affecting dental student life.

Speaker of the House of Delegates

The speaker of the House presides over all House of Delegates meetings and instructs delegates about parliamentary procedures. The speaker also reviews governance documents annually and serves as a resource for parliamentary procedures. He or she also serves as an ex-officio non-voting member of the Board of Trustees.

The candidate that receives a simple majority vote will become ASDA’s speaker of the House of Delegates.

Speaker of the House candidates (in alphabetical order): 

Palmer Jeppesen, Midwestern-AZ '20
Ryan Twaddle, Marquette '19
*Claire (Thanh) Nguyen, Missouri-Kirksville '20 withdrew her application