I don’t know about you, but I for one will be thrilled to usher in the new year. The year 2020 has been one for the record books! I cannot imagine that last January, I didn’t even know what the term “Zoom” meant. Now, I spend several nights a week immersed in virtual meetings, courses, movie nights, wine tastings, and get-togethers of all kinds. Part of me cannot wait to see people in person again, to get to hug my friends and relatives and to simply, socialize normally again. On the other hand, I must admit that virtual meetings have been easier to attend from the comfort of my own home wearing clothes that I wouldn’t dream of wearing outside the house. In fact, this is one of the many ways the GHDS is honoring inclusion! In the past, some of our committee members have had to drive 45 minutes or more just to attend in-person meetings at the Society office located in Greenway Plaza. The hope is that virtual meetings can continue even after COVID-19, so that it will be easier for our members on the outskirts of this huge city to participate in our all-important committee work.  

Believe it or not, I have enjoyed our Zoom meetings! It has been a privilege to get to meet so many of our members and to witness their energy and creativity in action. Many of our young committee chairs are bursting with ideas to engage young dentists in ways that I would never have dreamed possible. Who would have thought that Drs. Alex Barrera and Victoria Vo, co-chairs of our Communications Committee would organize “Instagram Takeovers” to highlight a day in the life of some of our member dentists! Who would have thought that Dr. Michelle Thompson, one of our young board members, would be representing Houston at the ADA level, presenting an online course on diversity and inclusion in which she highlighted the ways Houston has been a leader in this critical endeavor? Who would have thought that the Membership Committee would team up with the Programs and Sponsorship Committee to create a new local Benefits program in which members would have access to a host of discounted products and services? The sky is the limit when we all work together and engage ALL of our members. 

Greater Houston area dentists – we want YOU to join in the fun! We want your knowledge, experience, creativity, compassion and commitment as we work to maintain the integrity of our profession in a variety of important ways. In fact, it is my sincere hope that our local dentists will begin to see that this is not your grandfather’s (or grandmother’s) GHDS! It is a vibrant, young, motivated, energetic group of dedicated, diverse, ethical individuals who want the dental profession to be well represented and protected in the years to come. I am so encouraged when I witness not only our younger dentists in action, but even the commitment of our ASDA colleagues who volunteer for every event we host and advocate for our profession right along with us.

The ADA, TDA, and GHDS are the voice of our profession. At all levels, they worked tirelessly this year to give us tools to use during the COVID-19 crisis. The ADA/TDA/GHDS got us back to work much sooner and more efficiently than we would have without representation. They offered us free PPE and a recycling program when supplies were short, advocated for and negotiated terms of PPP loans, and educated the public on how safe it was to go back to the dentist, just to name a few of the many ways they had our backs. Many of these programs were available not only to members, but also to non-members. For this, we should all look at the organization responsible for our unified voice with renewed appreciation and respect. 

As this year comes to a close, let’s reflect on the difficulties we have been through and the life-saving efforts of organized dentistry to make sure we would come through with our profession intact. Perhaps as you reflect, you should consider a different kind of New Year’s resolution. Instead of one that keeps your body healthy, consider one that keeps your profession healthy - join the ADA/TDA/GHDS! 
I wish you all a safe, healthy and happy new year and I hope to see you all IN PERSON in 2021.


Kathy L. O’Keefe D.D.S., M.S.

Greater Houston Dental Society