Letter From Leadership: Mary Beth Sojka

Dear ADAA Members,

As we approach our 100th anniversary in November 2024, I find myself reflecting on history, particularly, our most recent history. I’ve heard questions and comments from members regarding where ADAA stands.  So, for this month’s message, I want to clearly communicate where ADAA stands today. 

In order to understand where ADAA stands, we have to consider where we have been over the last decade. There have been monumental changes. ADAA parted ways with its direct hire Executive Director in 2014 and moved to an association management company for the first time. There were several reasons behind this change including cost savings measures from eliminating overhead as well as additional fiscal oversight. From 2014 – 2021, ADAA was managed by the company, Solutions for Associations (SFA), was sold in February 2021 to Seven12 Management Company. As the association management industry continued to consolidate, Seven12 was sold to Kellen in the summer of 2022. Kellen is our current association management partner.  

ADAA was at a critical juncture during these transitions with new bylaws being implemented, an entirely new governance structure as well as new systems (website, database, etc.) being implemented. It was during these transitions that discoveries were made with regard to the integrity of the membership data as well as the financial processes. As many of you know, ADAA has experienced some financial issues with the inability to pay the chapters back dues. The Board of Directors and staff continue to work through these challenges and transitions to put ADAA in the best place possible in order to celebrate our 100th anniversary in November 2024 

As part of the solution, we are working to grow the organization’s non-dues revenue streams. Non-dues revenues help membership associations weather the variances in membership numbers that can occur cyclically as well as diversify revenue streams to reduce reliance solely on dues.  And, you’ve seen this month, some of the fruits of our labors by announcing the partnership with Torch Dental. Our partnership with Torch Dental provides for a royalty paid to ADAA for every new Torch customer that is an ADAA member.  This partnership allows ADAA to earn royalty from every member who becomes a new customer of Torch all while doing something members would normally do every day or week in practice – ordering dental products! Torch’s pricing allows even private practices to benefit from DSO-level pricing by placing orders through Torch’s pricing allows even private practices to benefit from DSO – level pricing by placing orders directly through their purchasing platform. We kindly invite you to arrange a demo here to further understand the advantages of Torch’s pricing. Additionally, the Board voted to approve a long overdue $10 increase in dues. ADAA had not increased its dues since 1997 prior to this increase. 

As you can see, ADAA has had some challenging years recently and we are still looking at some turbulent times ahead as membership continues to decline. Part of the transition discoveries has been that membership numbers reported previously were likely inflated and have caused some cash flow challenges. The Board and the staff continue to work to stabilize numbers so that we may grow from a newly established baseline. However, we are looking for each and every member to help.  We currently have 3,100 professional members and 2,185 student members. If every member can get just 1 new member we can significantly increase our dues revenues on top of adding non-dues revenue streams and partnerships. With over 300,000 dental assistants in the US alone, we should be able to achieve this goal and become stronger together.   

There are few membership organizations that make it to their 100th anniversary. I certainly hope that we can see that milestone with you, and a friend, as a member of ADAA and celebrate in November 2024 together.  

Warm Regards,

Mary Beth Sojka, CDA-Emeritus, RDA 
ADAA President 

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