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Leadership Candidates

2017-18 Executive Committee & Speaker Candidates

At Annual Session 2017, the House of Delegates will elect its 2017-18 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 2017-18 national leaders will officially begin their terms.

Executive Committee  |  Speaker of the House 


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 president serves as a member of the Board of Trustees as well as a member of the Executive Committee.

Executive Committee candidates (in alphabetical order):  

James H. Bland III  |  Tanya Sue Maestas  |  Danielle Marciniak  |  Alex Mitchell  


2017-18 James Bland HeadshotJames H. Bland III, Louisville '18

Short answer questions  |  CV 

Platform statement: 

Now is the time! The time to unite together as one unified voice to create and promote the change that we aspire to see. The foundation has been laid. The pathway has been paved. And it is now up to us to continue the work and efforts that have been presented to us. We are on the cusp of change and we must AIM to delegate our responsibilities and interests to achieve the common goal. Let’s take the A, and advocate/hold one another accountable; the I and ignite enthusiasm; and the M, as we manifest the ASDA destiny.

Advocacy & Accountability of one another:
Throughout time, we’ve worked diligently to bring our student debt and licensure exam concerns to the forefront. And because of the work of ASDA we’ve been able to join forces with the ADA to adopt and amend resolutions that support placing a cap on student loan interest rates and decreasing the amount of debt that can be accumulated by a dental student. We must continue to serve our colleagues and peers as we are the voice of this organization. We must continue to rise and hold one another accountable for the actions and responsibilities that each of us hold; Whether it be on the local chapter, district or national level.

Henry Ford stated, “coming together is the beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Each one of us has a critical piece that we must contribute to obtain the desired outcome. And together, we can and will achieve that.

Ignite Enthusiasm:
Find a cause that fires you up! As an ASDA leader, there are many causes and platforms that get us fired up – from advocating on licensure and student debt, to increasing predental activity and initiatives, each and every thing that ASDA stands for must be coordinated, executed, and brought to life with enthusiasm that will resonate throughout the nation. Once enthusiasm is established, we as dental students, leaders, and advocates in the profession can continue to dream and talk about the vision of ASDA.

Belief and vision fuels enthusiasm, and enthusiasm explodes into passion. Let’s carry this enthusiasm and passion into the next year as we continue to strive for the change we wish to see.

Manifest the ASDA destiny:
Manifesting the ASDA destiny is not only pertinent to us as current students, but to our peers and colleagues as future students in the profession. To manifest our destiny, we must Believe, Become, and Release. We must Believe that the work we are doing now will serve as the foundation and platform for future groups to build from. We must become a master at monitoring the thoughts and feelings we’re aligning ourselves with. And once achieved, we must Release the power of the voice. The voice of over 20,000 students that will leave a resounding effect in this profession.

This is a great time for dentistry and the association, and I look forward with excitement and anticipation to the advancement of ASDA’s mission.

2017-18 Tanya Sue Maestas HeadshotTanya Sue Maestas, Texas-Houston '18

Short answer questions  |  CV 

Platform statement: 

Each year ASDA continues to reach goals and milestones that positively impact our student members. As president, I am committed to continue putting our students first and moving our association forward. I look forward to working alongside the next Executive Committee in taking our association to new heights. Additionally, I hope to inspire and motivate our members to get involved in organized dentistry and become leaders in the profession.

As current dental students and future dental professionals, we take an oath to follow a code of ethics to put the health of our patient’s first above all things. Yet, each year dental students across the nation are faced with a licensure exam that puts many in an ethical dilemma and does not put the best interest of the patient first. With the adoption of the ASDA L-1 policy and release of the ASDA White Paper we are truly on the verge of changing the process of licensure attainment. We have seen many states take steps towards alternative pathways to licensure due to the many conversations held with our association’s members. I plan to continue to work with ASDA to have these important conversations with our allied organizations, state dental associations and legislatures on the importance of licensure reform. It is important that these entities listen to our student opinions and be open to transforming the process of licensure to one that is more ethical.

Student Debt
$261,149. This is the average debt for the graduating dental class of 2016. This is an astonishing number that continues to grow and burden graduating dentists. We have seen great steps taken like the coalition letter supporting the Post Grad Act signed by both the ADA and ASDA, along with the ADA student loan refinancing offer with the DRB. These are tremendous actions that graduating dentists can benefit from but we must do more. We must continue to take action and lobby for this issue! I plan to continue to have conversations with the ADA, ADEA and dental school deans to find solutions to the rising cost of tuition. We must also find more ways to promote existing loan repayment programs and the benefits associated with these programs.

Leadership Development and Communication
The core to the success of ASDA is the commitment of its leaders and members who take the initiative to stand for the issues that impact dental students and the profession directly. We must continually meet with local student leaders and encourage them to reach their leadership potential and transform the association on a local, district and national level. I hope to help increase the technology and communication that we have available to our students. I plan to increase transparency throughout the association and ensure that all our members are aware of the benefits they receive with their membership. With the launch of our new national ASDA website, we need to maximize its potential by providing resources for our members and recent graduates to become the best professionals they can be.

2017-18 Danielle Marciniak HeadshotDanielle Marciniak, Roseman '18

Short answer questions  |  CV 

Platform statement: 

The American Student Dental Association protects and advances the rights, interests and welfare of dental students. How can we do this without communication? Without mobilizing our membership? Without having a meaningful plan to carry us into the future? These are the questions I wish to address on the Executive Committee.

Most of our general membership and even many chapter leaders are largely unaware of what national ASDA does for them every day. I have two initiatives to combat this lapse in awareness—increasing social media presence and New Leader updates. We should be constantly posting updates of what each of our national leaders and councils are doing for dental students. As millennials, we are all familiar with scrolling through social media. ASDA is already there with publications and other member benefits, but we should add to this. Increasing content to promote ASDA’s national efforts will be a quick way to add awareness and value to what our association does. Providing national leader contact information in these posts will help general members get more involved. Adding a section to The New Leader newsletter that summarizes the most important actions of national ASDA each month will also aid in disseminating the work ASDA does for its membership nationwide.

Grassroots Licensure Reform Efforts
We have our policies and our new white paper as ammunition against the current licensure process, but we still do not have enough boots on the ground to get the job done. Our main dental student soldiers have been few. When we have thousands of dental students who stand with us, there is no reason to have such sparse participation fighting the good fight. The missing link is educating and mobilizing our membership. There are many members who want to be involved, but they do not know where to begin. We already have the tools. It is just a matter of seeking out our passionate members in each state and giving them the means to succeed. The environment is finally ready for change. It is our job to be prepared with a legion of informed and impassioned students.

We will emerge from 2017 with a new strategic plan. This makes it especially important to have a knowledgeable, inclusive and receptive Executive Committee. With licensure reform, the rise of midlevel providers and crippling student debt, dental students are entering a watershed period. 2017 will decide the next three years of our association and the lives of all student dentists. Now is the time to choose our path. Everyone needs to take part in making these decisions. Proper governance will allow all voices, both loud and soft, to be heard. The decisions made next year will not only affect ASDA for the next three years. It will shape the lives of all dental students for many years to come.

2017-18 Alex Mitchell HeadshotAlex Mitchell, Temple '18

Short answer questions  |  CV 

Platform statement: 

I want to serve on the Executive Committee so I can use my strong communication and teamwork skills to solve the complex challenges facing ASDA. I have been blessed to grow in ASDA from a shy predental at his first National Leadership Conference into a visionary, looking to lead 24,000 dental students. Along the way, I have experienced notable successes and also notable setbacks, both of which have molded me into the confident leader I am today. It has been an absolute honor being a chapter president for the past two years and sitting on the 2015 - 2016 Board of Trustees. From my time on the Board, I have learned that there are still incredible barriers between local chapters and national ASDA. If elected, I will call every chapter president for a one-on-one discussion. I've learned how the Executive Committee and Board of Trustees operate together. When facilitating board discussion, I will seek to be an open-minded leader who steers us clear of knee-jerk decisions and guides us toward well informed ones.

In the next year, the Board of Trustees will be charged with both carrying out the 2015 – 2017 strategic plan and creating the 2018 - 2020 strategic plan. We have focused our effort and resources on developing a career resource center, forming the Washington Leadership Conference with the American Dental Association, doubling predental membership and collaborating with our state dental associations. Moving forward, I plan to continue expanding on our already robust Wellness initiative. From the local chapter level to the national level it has been very satisfying to watch Wellness take off in so many forms. Chapter accomplishments have included sponsoring sports teams, doing quick healthy YouTube video recipes, hikes, runs, book clubs and so much more. The biggest areas of opportunity for Wellness are to provide our chapters and students with improved access and knowledge of substance abuse and suicide recognition and prevention. I also plan to continue our licensure reform efforts in working toward the ideal licensure exam outlined in our L-1 policy. Additionally, I understand that an intimate knowledge of our new white paper and being able to articulate it effectively to our members, the American Dental Association, state dental boards, and any other dental associations is crucial to our efforts.

ASDA has allowed me to take charge of my life in a way I had never thought possible. For some, it may be a job, but for me it has become a passion. During dental school ASDA is what keeps me up late at night, and has me up early in the morning. It would be a dream come true to serve my final year in dental school on the Executive Committee.

*Tyler King, Missouri-Kirksville '19 withdrew his application for the Executive Committee. 

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): 

 Chad Curtis    Chad Curtis, Columbia '19

Short answer questions  |  CV  
 Abby Halpern    Abby Halpern, Georgia ’18

Short answer questions  |  CV  


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