President's Message: Esprit de Coeur

President's Message: Esprit de Coeur

Lee D. Jess, D.D.S.*:

What happens when people pull together, people who give of themselves beyond expectations with great leadership and commitment to a cause? It was through the “esprit de corps” from my Board of Trustees and members of the Minnesota Dental Association who worked diligently as committee chairs, participants, and as volunteers giving their time and effort that we were able to accomplish passing the Dental Therapist bill, keeping the membership strong and communicating with our legislators.

A great deal of credit goes to MDA Executive Director Dick Diercks and the Association staff, including our lobbyists Dominic Sposeto, Mary Gilbert, and Tom Day, who were so instrumental in directing and guiding our board, including myself, and all our chairs through this challenging year. I cannot thank you all enough for your dedication and guidance in handling every issue that came before the MDA. I also wish to thank and compliment the leadership of Dr. Patrick Lloyd, Dean of the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry.

My year began in September of 2008 at the MDA House of Delegates in Bloomington. I have always been impressed by how well organized and well attended this major meeting is, and it was an honor to be handed the gavel as president of the MDA. Attending the American Dental Association’s House of Delegates in San Antonio in October of 2008 was just as outstanding and informative. Throughout the year, ADA president Dr. John Findley has been the very model of a remarkable leader. I had the opportunity to spend time with Dr. Findley and their Board of Trustees regarding the Minnesota Dental Therapist bill.

With a great grassroots effort from the MDA membership, Dental Day at the Capitol set the tone for a positive outcome for the Dental Therapist bill in the legislature. Member turnout was exceptional. As a result, this bill has set the pace for the entire ADA membership throughout the United States. Minnesota is truly a leader in the development of a new dental team member.

The Washington Leadership Conference and visits with senators and representatives were very beneficial. We were welcomed and allowed to speak about Minnesota dental issues.

In the month of May, I had the great opportunity to visit the Iowa State Dental Association state meeting and House of Delegates. The meeting was held in Iowa City, and the Iowa Hawkeyes put on quite a show.

The Star of the North Meeting in April continues to be one of the greatest state dental meetings in the United States, and is always well attended by members, exhibitors, auxiliaries, guests, and spouses. This meeting was so rewarding to me as my wife, Mary Jo, and I hosted the Presidential Gala and I presented awards to Matt Anzelc, Brian McDonald, Marty Espe, Steve McDonnell, and Todd Tsuchiya.

A trip to Boston, hosted by the California Dental Association, was a special event. The meeting was developed to inform 15 states about Minnesota dental issues. University of Minnesota School of Dentistry Dean Patrick Lloyd, MDA Executive Director Dick Diercks, and I presented, and our remarks were well received and stimulated a great deal of discussion.

Dental school graduations are always exceptional. To see the excitement of new graduates as they receive their diplomas gives me that same feeling of pride I had when I received my own diploma from Loyola University. This year I was invited to participate in the awards ceremony at the University of Minnesota, and the following day I got to don my cap and gown and lead the graduates down the aisle in Northrup Auditorium.

My most recent trip with Dean Lloyd and Dick Diercks was to LaCrosse, Wisconsin, where we addressed the Wisconsin Dental Executive Board of Trustees on the outcome of the Dental Therapist bill and on the curriculum developed by the School of Dentistry. Our neighboring state is truly interested in what Minnesota is going to do next.

One of my goals as MDA president has been to visit the state dental societies one by one. I still have a couple to go, so stay tuned.

Now as my year is drawing to a close, I want to extend my thanks to the following “good travelers”: Executive Director Dick Diercks and the staff of the Minnesota Dental Association, its Executive Committee and Trustees, committees, and their chairs, and the Association membership. For your commitment to the MDA and the trust you have placed in me as its president, my sincere thanks. We worked hard through long hours and many meetings and conference calls, and it was worth every minute. Look at what we have accomplished. What an experience!

I wish each and every one of you continued success in the future with your societies and committee work with the MDA. I will continue to be involved with the MDA and the Minnesota Dental Foundation. Thank you for such a good year. n

*Dr. Jess is the president of the Minnesota Dental Association for 2008-2009. He is a general dentist in private practice in Grand Rapids, Minnesota. E-mail is