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Candidate Q&A

John Calamia, DMD
 
1. Why are you applying for this position? 
You would think by now I would have a pat answer to this question as it is not only asked by NLDC each time I have applied but is also asked by my wife each time I have applied.  The fact is however that each time I have applied I had a different reason and this time around the answer is simply the AACD needs me just one more additional year. This question is critical so please excuse the length of my response as I try to explain why I fulfill that need.
 
I am totally committed to the precept that education, accreditation, and philanthropy are among the highest priorities of the AACD, Board of Directors. As a member of the BOD for 7 of the past 10 years I have been an important voice in our decisions and I am proud to say that the boards I have been a part of, not only upheld these three pillars of our organization but also carried them to a higher level uplifting how AACD is perceived in the dental community and lay populations but more importantly in “organized dentistry and academia”. I am a complete BOD member not just a University Representative.
 
The academy has invested a lot of time and effort in my candidacy over the past 10 years and I am a product of leadership development the NLDC needs to excel in. I have, I believe, performed my duties as university representative and general member representative very well, over that period of time, and in a recent BOD self-evaluation I was ranked way above average by my colleagues on the board. This speaks to my experience. Few would disagree that in a year with the hiring of a new CEO and the moving up one year of our president due to the untimely resignation of Jerry Woolf for health reasons, it is imperative that the NLDC seek to create a very experienced Board. I believe I will be the most experienced candidate.
 
Unfortunately part of my experience has been the realization that if we as an organization are not vigilant to the needs of our constituents, they can easily be forgotten if not championed at the Board level. This was never more evident than in 2010 when it was decided to do away with the annual University Advisory Board and its personal contact with teachers in those affiliated schools.

Manny of our colleagues in academia in which we had built a relationship over my previous 7 years on the board where heartbroken. The relationship had just begun to reap rewards with workshops on how to improve specific areas of breakdown, when the carpet was pulled out from under those that had worked so hard. The reason I ran for the University position in 2011 was to correct that blunder and with my persistence and the approval of presidents Sullivan and Goodlin we have made significant headway reinstating the invitation to dental schools to our annual meeting now called the University Educators Forum. I was very instrumental in getting many of the East coast schools and all the international schools to attend the Washington DC meeting, despite the time constraints, and I believe that with the help of my University Educators Forum Committee colleagues and the PEC, Seattle will be a bigger success. If I am given the opportunity to extend my university representative position on the board for the additional year, I believe I can guarantee that by the Orlando meeting in 2014 we will be back to 50 plus schools we had listed as AACD affiliated schools in 2009. That continuity might not occur if we change horses in mid-stream.
 
My plate so far in this two year term has been quite full with reestablishing past alliances and organizing the DC and Seattle meetings so that our First and Second international poster sessions could take place. If given the chance in a one year extension to my term, I pledge to continue to give back to AACD some of that investment in developing my leadership by spending increased time in mentoring those members of the university committee that have not previously been a board member. As a true board advisor I could assist the committee chairman, vice chairman, or secretary in his/her duties of writing reports to the boards, determining action plans that are appropriate and in budget, how to work with the staff for assistance if needed and general leadership skills.  This gives these individuals a much better opportunity to develop the leadership skills that will be needed at the next level of AACD governance if they so choose to run.
      
Having someone new come in for just a one year term would in my opinion be a disadvantage to the candidate as well as to the University Representative position as it is generally a very fast year and does not give a new board member time to acclimate to their position on the board. At the board level the leadership role becomes more formalized. As President Goodlin often says, and I paraphrase, Rules of order must be followed so that meetings do not become a free for all; roving discussions and trying to problem solve, or work on the minutiae instead of more strategic thinking.  That is why three year terms on the board has been a consideration in the past. I know what needs to be done, I have done it in the past, and I will do it one more time.
 
In this possible one year extension I hope to also bring back to the board a very crucial part of what was lost in the discontinuation of the University Advisory Council in 2010. This was the former Award of Excellence given to a senior student that submitted a clinical case to their schools AACD contact with similar guidelines to our accreditation process. This allows our students and their faculty advisors an awareness of the AACD Criteria for success in these cases and hopefully their beginnings in following through with the AACD Accreditation in the future. I have already begun the process by setting or International Poster Session with the requirements for this previous reward. Wouldn’t it be nice to have this award be given by AACD University Educators Forum Schools at their school graduation? The AACD would be accorded the same prestige as the DENTSPLY, AGD, ADA, AOD, Academy of Prosthodontics awards currently being given at Dental School Graduations.
 
2A. Leadership and Organizational skills.
It is not enough to just have caring individuals as our leaders. We also need talented individuals that have the skills needed to identify what is best for our organization and also to take on the responsibility to try to have our fellow board members buy into those ideas. This is done by listening carefully to the arguments presented and thinking long and hard, not on the short term effect the decision will have, but instead on the more global repercussions of our decisions on AACD now and in the future.

 
I manage this duty by doing due diligence in researching what we currently have and what we could have. As I mentioned above the AACD has invested a great deal of time in developing me over the past 8 years into a Board Member that is not afraid to voice his opinion but does not force that opinion on others. I am not too stubborn to listen to what my colleagues have to say and I am not surprised that sometimes their arguments alter my thinking. At the end of the day I have respected the actions of my colleagues and ask respect for my honest opinions. Protecting this right is to me, “providing great leadership”.
 
As one flips through my CV one of the areas, in which I am most proud, is my written work. I think that category speaks very highly as to my informational management style. I may not at times seem very organized but my end product is more often than not of the highest quality. As to my people management style I only ask those around me to give their best effort to accomplish our organizational goals and never slight someone for their true efforts. For those that neglect their duties I just try not to depend upon them but I do make it clear what my expectations for an end product are. To be honest in all my years on the AACD board I can’t think of anyone that truly neglected their duties. This is probably due to the voluntary nature of their service and their giving personalities.
 
My tenure as a past BOD has taught me some very important lessons about better communication skills and I know this will allow me to better serve the board and our membership. I hope to further those communicative skills with our new CEO and Leadership.
 
2B.  My accomplishments and approach to fulfilling obligations?
If one reads my short Biography, I can truly point to many accomplishments I have managed in my career. Being a part of AACD leadership is certainly high up on those accomplishments. The main reason for this is being a part of this team we call AACD. This phenomenon started out as a group of good friends that realized an educational need and put together an organization that now some 30 years later can truly claim to be the pre-eminent source of Cosmetic and Esthetic dental information in the world.
That did not happen because its leadership was composed of Prima-donnas. It happened because grass roots groups banded together to preserve and foster an organization in which they saw real worth. It was my observation of this hard work and volunteerism that drove me to join this organization. AACD is held together by the sincere desire of its leadership to fulfill their obligations both assigned and self-imposed. I subscribe to that sort of leadership and hold myself to that standard.
 
2C. How does one balance friendship when differences of opinion arise?
Simply said, “Respect you colleagues opinion, as you would like your own opinion respected and I guarantee your friendships will not suffer!” Emotions should take a back seat to an exploration of what the other opinions are and seeking out conversation will hopefully diffuse emotion if carried out without ‘hidden’ agendas. I can say to you that this past year my phone has been accessed by many board members as I was often the board member to go to in order to get a disagreement with another board member or executive committee member aired out. More often than not I tried to point out what the other member might have had in mind and seeing that side made the difference?
Other times I made suggestions on how to best communicate that dissatisfaction. That was a good feeling because they trusted me enough to voice their concerns and ask my opinion. I guess it goes with my age. 
 
3. What do I bring to the position that makes me unique and distinctive?
In my opening Answer I pointed to specific reasons why I will, I believe, be the best candidate:
·        I am a complete package not just a University Representative
·        I am already well trained as a BOD (best suited for the one year term offered)
·        I am quite capable of voicing my opinion even when in the minority
·        I am capable and willing to mentor those individuals that might succeed me on the board, but would only have the time to do so if given a one year extension on my current term on the board.
·        We have a plan that our University Educators Forum Committee that I believe will be successful in returning what is needed in order to improve AACD/University Relations and with that, a growth of mutual respect. I can do the background work with my colleagues in the universities that will insure that these plans are successful.
·        I take responsibility for what is often pointed to as THE model relationship: AACD & NYU.
 
I believe I will again be one of the oldest candidates for a board position. With age, usually comes an inherent wisdom. I believe that the membership of our organization needs leaders that will uphold the main foundations of our society and will do so in an ethical and unbiased way. It is also important that leadership should be recognized for their accomplishments, as this will reflect back on the organization. I bring to the Board the rare combination of one who is a researcher, an educator, an author, and a clinician. I can walk into any of these settings and feel comfortable. As such I can act as a liaison between AACD and each of these constituents in our profession. I hope that the committee will agree that I have a national and international recognition in our field, and that I possess those qualities in leadership that are so often are pointed to in a judgment as to the worth of membership in an organization.

 
I am well aware of our core values. Setting a standard of excellence through continuous education has been the story of my life. In school, in research, and in my private practice, acting with integrity and accountability is my cornerstone. Lastly, I bring a work ethic that I am proud of while still enjoying the camaraderie that has been a part of my board tenure.
 
4     Where I see my interests and expertise supporting the advancement of the AACD Strategic Plan and its Core Purpose.
Although I believe my interests and expertise can be helpful in all 7 of our stated Strategic Goals,
my forte is probably best aligned with:
(Advocacy, Membership value, Professional Education and Leadership Development).

 
In regard to Advocacy. We need to strengthen our alliances with organization like:
The Academy of General Dentistry
The American Academy of Implant Dentistry
The Academy of Operative Dentistry
The Academy of Laser Dentistry.

 
Each of the above groups offers a credential in their discipline and solidifying the commonalities of the credentials of the members of our existing alliance of organizations need to be a priority.
Common threads of each of our credentials might be agreed upon without jeopardizing the autonomy of each of these disciplines. These common threads might even parallel some of those basic requirements of existing specialties (examples written exams, case presentations, and continued education). This will make it very difficult for State Boards to ignore the value of our credentials and may make it more obvious that our intent is to help the consumer be aware of the advanced training one brings to the table when presenting our credentials.

 
We as the developers of what we believe to be strong and relevant credentials should continue to hold ourselves to high standards and back each other by identifying our commonalities. I believe those that really seek to inform and thereby protect the consumer, will eventually stop painting all organizations with the same broad brush of "irrelevant - if not accredited by ADA", but instead these state boards or other entities may begin to enumerate those benchmarks in the credentials of the members of this alliance and hold them up as the standard to be met by all. While freedom of speech is something to be respected and preserved for all, "what one has to say" is just as important in getting final recognition.

In Regard to Membership Value.  I believe our university members have identified at the DC forum:           
- providing educators with recordings or other materials from the annual session
- providing open workshops at the general session for dental school faculty
- having a library of documents, dvd’s, criteria guides, AACD owned vital book of ABCD approved texts.

In Regard Professional Education, Regional Affiliates and Leadership Development.
I am proud to say that NY has one of the strongest Regional Affiliates in the Empire State Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry. I am very close to their leadership and they have been great in allowing our students and faculty to join in their meetings. Students are future AACD Members and Leaders
 
5. How do I relate to the membership and in forming a bridge between the Board and our General Members?

We have often identified the importance of the base of the Pyramid that forms our organization (our general membership) but, in my opinion, we have just begun to set in motion recognition of the needs of our general membership. If we want to foster the continued growth of our organization, our general membership will need more personal contact and the availability of more local resources. I believe our trial regional meetings are just one way of beginning this process, but I feel the initiative taken by a task force of volunteers in our leadership that has gotten into direct communication with members that have both become new members as well as those that have recently left, is just beginning to cultivate a new awareness of the general membership’s feelings about our organization. This initiative, Marilyn Calvo’s task force of volunteers from our leadership, needs to be supported.

 
Encouraging grass root study clubs and having members of AACD speak at these meeting will garner a response to our organization that if handled properly will increase our general membership rolls. I will continue to help and support my regions Empire State Academy of Cosmetic Dentistry and I pledge to help our Metro Affiliate get back to its previous status as well as develop a Long Island Affiliate.

I have also mentioned a strong need to cultivate a new group of educator/clinicians that have much in common with the goals of our organization and needs to be better developed throughout our University Educators Forum.

 
I have at least 4 members of my immediate family that, either are, or will soon become general members and I have been very vocal in asking my Honors Program to consider joining AACD.

John R. Calamia, DMD                             IFTD NYUCD CLASS OF ‘78
Sonia Delgado-Calamia, DDS                  IFTD NYUCD CLASS OF ’77   
Christine Calamia, DDS                            NYUCD CLASS OF   ’07
Vincent Calamia, DDS                               NYUCD CLASS OF ‘11
 
 
6   What else should you know about me specifically for this position?
First:      I GET IT.
Second: I promise that this candidate will listen carefully to the needs of our membership and do all that I can to continue to foster the ideas of this prestigious organization.