May 2019 Volume LIV Number 3


A Message from your HSHC President

Reflections on Giving and Gratitude

May 2016 Volume LI Number 3

My good friend Dr. Heber Simmons Jr. has a saying that a leader’s role is to make sure the wood pile is higher when you leave. As I complete my three years as Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children president, the Foundation’s wood pile is indeed higher, thanks to so many people. 

My time as president benefitted greatly from the wisdom of my predecessor, Dr. David Curtis, who put the Foundation on its "kids-first" path. We turned our attention during his tenure to supporting only activities that demonstrate a direct benefit to children. Our Access to Care Grants were born.

What started with a handful of $20,000 grants in year one has grown to more than $1 million in Access to Care Grants and
commitments in each of the last three years. Our grantees have helped provide Dental Homes to more than 300,000 kids. It’s the Foundation’s accomplishment that I’m most proud of.

I’m also proud of Leadership Institute and Advanced Leadership Institute, our shared investment with the Academy to develop the leadership skills of pediatric dentists to the betterment pediatric dentistry and the children in our care. Since our first Leadership Institute session in December 2004, the Academy and Foundation have committed more than $1.7 million in the five Leadership Institute Cohorts and two Advanced Leadership Institute Cohorts. 

Of course, none of this would be possible without the generosity of our donors – notably our AAPD member colleagues and corporate supporters. Our donors have responded to our kids-first efforts and HSHC continues to grow financially as we commit more each year in the care of underserved children.

Donor generosity is on full display this year. With two months to go in our fiscal year, we are closing in on our first $2 million contribution year thanks to an anonymous donor couple who are matching every contribution this year dollar for dollar as part of the $1 Million Dental Homes Challenge (see related story).

But, with all of these accomplishments, my time as HSHC president has taught me that a leader’s "success" has everything to do with getting your turn at the right time.

HSHC is on an upward trajectory thanks to dedicated Board members, Committee members and a battalion of volunteers who make everything go behind the scenes. You’ll not find a more committed group of people who put kids first in everything they do.

You’ll also not find a more committed group than our passionate staff. From our CEO Dr. John Rutkauskas on down, there’s no small measure of magic in staff’s ability to make things happen.

So, as I prepare to step aside, I am grateful to everyone for everything Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children has accomplished. I also am grateful for Dr. Neophytos "Ned" Savide, who will be taking over as HSHC president on July 1.

I am confident the Foundation will do great things in Ned’s capable hands. I’m also confident he will be as amazed as I am that he, too, will get his turn at the right time.

Thank you, everyone, for your support of Healthy Smiles, Healthy Children. See you in San Antonio.


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