Moving forward with great promise!

Because of a rich legacy

Sixty years ago, a small group of like minded dental spouses, members of local auxiliaries decided to join together, share their knowledge and organize nationally. In the Spring of 1955, Mrs. Thelma Neff stated: “ We need a national auxiliary! Why? #1 Strength in numbers and unity. #2 We have a job to do in Dental Health Education. #3 A national organization would be a clearinghouse of ideas, help extend the aims of the dental profession to all organizations which seek the advancement of dental health education. . Let’s start something! Will You?

And here we are- 60 years later with a past to be proud of and future full of promise. Wouldn’t Thelma be thrilled to talk to our Thelma Neff award winners Molly, Fran, Barbara and Nancy to hear the tremendous work they have done to serve the public as members of the Alliance? And wouldn’t she want to hear details of the projects our members received awards for this morning at the ADPAC sponsored Member Project Awards Breakfast?

To hear how many of us are ADPAC members, who know and visit our legislators on the local, state and national level. To hear of the programs and events planned and attended to keep our dental families strong and our friendships close. Our Dental Health Education programs from Healthy Smiles From the Start to Senior Smiles reach expectant mothers and new parents, preschoolers, elementary, middle and highschoolers, homeschoolers, library story hours, athletic teams, scouters, and our senior citizens. To help those in need at home and abroad as we take our DHE message on the road.

Alliance of the American Dental Association members have the time, talents and resources to reach out with a lifetime of Dental Health Education projects just waiting for the next AADA member to present. Marian Wright Edelman founder and president of the Children’s Defense Fund states” Education is for improving the lives of others and for leaving your community and world better than you found it.” This is a goal Alliance members strive to meet every day.

Isn’t it ironic we are meeting in Washington DC, our nations capitol and home of our federal government. 239 years ago a small group of passionate, forward, like minded thinkers, met to discuss and debate and the result- the establishment of a new nation. Not thousands, not hundreds, a few dozen. Margaret Mead’s quote is apropos as she states “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For indeed, that’s all who ever have.”

AADA as other organizations, struggle with membership. Our Leadership Council is pleased to announce and welcome Leslie Franklin to head up our Member Recruitment Project and look forward to hearing more of her ideas. We are thankful and proud to recognize our strong core of dedicated Alliance members working tirelessly to promote dental health education, legislative advocacy and the well-being of the dental family. As we work for our membership to increase, we will also work to strengthen our local and state components and constituents.

Past-president Sue Ryser challenged the Leadership Council to care for our members and organization as an arborist would her trees. To carefully care and focus on the health and safety of individual plants and trees rather than managing the forests. Strengthen the roots. I have a bookmark I made with the children in Junior church one Sunday called the Tree Prayer and I’d like to share it with you.

Make us like trees, Lord Sturdy, deep, rooted, useful.

A support to those in need,

A shelter to those who are weary. Bearing fruit for those who are hungry.

Make us like trees, Lord. Sturdy, deep, rooted, useful.


Members of the Alliance of the American Dental Association have honored the commitment and goals set forth by Thelma Neff, and her co-founders Mrs. Charles Gruber, and Mrs. Don FitzGerald. As stated in the History of AADA…In 1957, Mrs. Neff declared “We have laid a fine cornerstone. May the additional stories of the structure be long and lasting. This is the responsibility shared by us all.” Greet friends old and new and savor the blessing of friendship. Let’s dedicate our time, energy and talent to the next 60 years.

Susan Gardner

Past President