Dr. Julie Kellogg's experience in the Leadership Institute
By Dr. Julie Kellogg
Leadership does not simply happen. It can be taught, learned, developed.
—Rudolph W. Giuliani
As a third-generation dentist in a family group practice, I’ve attended dental meetings my entire life — probably since I was in utero. And, being born into the profession, I felt it was expected to join the dental association. I also realized my career could be vastly different than my father’s and grandfather’s, and I needed to develop my own voice.
Fresh out of dental school, I joined the tripartite with little idea about what the ADA or the WSDA did. Then, two years into my practice, Dr. Robin Henderson gently arm-twisted me into a leadership role in the local dental society. Eventually, I served two years as its president.
That role opened doors for me. I joined the governing board of a local hospital, where I connected with a dentist from a neighboring community and his son, a member of the WSDA Board of Directors. Both men understood the issues thoroughly and articulated complex subjects clearly and succinctly, while maintaining a sense of humor and “big-picture” clarity.
I was intrigued by these leadership qualities. I had never felt particularly talented at organizing my thoughts or articulating them in a compelling manner. I wanted to learn. I wanted to feel empowered with the mentorship and knowledge to support and defend my profession. So I applied to the WSDA Leadership Institute.
Bridging the gap
Part of my motivation to participate in the Leadership Institute was to gain some perspective in bridging the generation gap within our profession. Given my history growing up in the world of dentistry, I have often joked that I am an honorary member of the old gentleman’s club. I can hold my own in these circles, but I also represent the young and the female professionals, some of whom feel it can be difficult to have a voice amongst the elder, established leadership.
To my delight, the WSDA leadership and mentors are welcoming and open-minded. This year brought the WSDA a transition in executive director, a monumental list of legislative battles, and some challenges to the status quo. In visiting the WSDA board room, Leadership Institute participants witnessed some tense and tough discussions — yet everyone approached each topic with passion, respect even in disagreement, and an unrelenting drive to move our profession into a positive future. Even when we in the Leadership Institute contributed, the leaders listened.
Strong, better together
Sometimes our dental practices can feel like islands. We have our service organizations to give back to the community, or our study clubs where we geek out about dental materials and the latest technology. But we also need the strength that comes with working together. Our local dental societies, state associations, and national association provide professional power as well as camaraderie and support.
Often, we don’t recognize how our professional organization is supporting us. The WSDA has built a strong asset base; we have a committed and active government affairs committee and DentPAC board with impressive flexibility and innovation in handling the issues in Olympia; our foundation, WOHF, helps bring important access and education; and PNDC continues to host world-class continuing education each year.
My experience in the Leadership Institute instilled pride to be a part of this professional organization. We won’t win every battle, but we will keep learning and will maintain a strong defense of dentistry.
One of the highlights of the Leadership Institute was developing mentor relationships with other professionals, whose time and generosity continue to be greatly appreciated. My mentor, Dr. Lorin Peterson, deserves enthusiastic applause for both his service to dentistry and his kindness. The doctors I met through the Leadership Institute are stalwart defenders of the profession, as well as warm, kind individuals. I have made many friendships that I will cherish.
Find your place
In addition to new friendships, the Leadership Institute highlighted many ways to lead. Some leaders are inspiring speakers, some are good with organization or numbers, some have a clear vision for the future, and some challenge the status quo with piercing questions. From local societies, delegates, and liaisons to the budget and finance committee, PNDC committee, government affairs committee, DentPAC board, WOHF, and on up to the WSDA board of directors and officers, you can be a voice for your profession.
Our state is at the forefront of many critical issues in dentistry. Healthcare, economies, and technology are changing rapidly, but one thing is certain: The relative stability of the last 60 years is over. How we handle the challenges in our state could strongly influence how our profession evolves into the future at the national level.
Our organization, our leaders, our vision, and our voice — all our voices — matter.
OTHER VOICES: OTHER LEADERSHIP INSTITUTE PARTICIPANTS ADD THEIR COMMENTS
“A well-structured introduction to the inner workings of our dental association, and how it interfaces with statewide dental/fiscal policies.
Low-stress experience, with excellent knowledge gained for time invested. The mentors are top-notch!
If you have any interest in the future of your profession, or how we as a group influence the course of dental policy in our state, you owe it to yourself to get more involved. The Leadership Institute is a great way to become informed on your path to advocacy.”
— Dr. Joe de Jesus
“The Leadership Institute gave me exactly what I was looking for: a behind-the-scenes look at how our state dental organization is run and all the services it provides for our members. I think it would be impossible for someone to experience the Leadership Institute and not learn something new.”
— Dr. Ryan Fox
“Two euphemisms come to mind when I think about my experience with the Leadership Institute. The first is for those of us who may wonder if being a member of the WSDA has value. The phrase is, ‘You don’t know what you don’t know.’ The second is for those of us who may feel powerless to fight the many threats to our profession that we are facing, and that phrase is simply ‘knowledge is power.’ If you find yourself in one of those two situations, the Leadership Institute will be an eye-opener, like taking the red pill in The Matrix.
Even if you don’t want to be in leadership, you will know the issues and will see how hard the WSDA is working to advocate for us. The six days that the Leadership Institute required throughout the last year will pay dividends for the rest of my career. I would highly recommend it for dentists at any point in their career.”
— Dr. Todd Irwin
“I would highly recommend this program to anyone who is interested in knowing what really happens with your trade organization, or even more for the people who don’t believe it’s important.”
— Dr. Kristine Aadland
“Before the experience of the Leadership Institute, the WSDA was very overwhelming to me. I wasn’t sure how the different boards, organizations, and committees were organized or related. I knew I wanted to get involved, but was intimidated and wasn’t sure how to take the next step. With the help and advice of my amazing mentor (Ashley Ulmer), I now understand not only why organized dentistry is so important to our profession, but also how I can contribute. Over the past year, I have been introduced to many of the leaders in the WSDA who have made career long commitments to organized dentistry with the simple goal of preserving and bettering our profession for future generations and it has been very inspiring. Looking back, I remember being on the fence about whether or not to turn in my application and now in hindsight I am so glad that I did.”
— Dr. Patty Martin
“By participating in the WSDA Leadership Institute, I have gained valuable insight into the varied ways one can be involved in an organization that serves our profession. With the changing dynamics of the practice of dentistry, from a demographic shift to outside forces attempting to alter the way we treat our patients, it is now more important than ever that members get involved, but in a way that fits in with their life. The Leadership Institute has given me the ability to see where I can serve this organization no matter the size of the time commitment I am able to give.”
— Dr. Alexis Apatoff