Designing an Association for the Future

In a downtown Denver office 130 years ago, ten Colorado dentists met and created what would become the Colorado Dental Association. Since then, the CDA has been a tireless advocate for its members. As we reach this milestone, we have an opportunity to not only look back at the innovators who formed this organization but to look forward as visionaries and ensure the organization continues to serve its members into the future.

The face of organized dentistry is about to undergo a major transformation. In just a few short years, the largest membership group in organized dentistry will retire and in their place will be a cohort of dentists born after 1978. The Colorado Dental Association has engaged in a nearly year-long strategic planning process designed to transform the CDA and the membership experience, aimed squarely at the future of the organization.

The strategic plan seeks to accomplish three specific items:

1) Ensure an Efficient and Viable Organization for the Future

2) Create the Infrastructure for the Recruitment and Retention of Members

3) Ensure Quality Dental Care for all Coloradans

The CDA Board of Directors approved the Strategic Plan in January and the staff has already begun implementing the plan. Here are a few of the highlights of our early successes:

1) The CDA has hired Moore Communications to help develop the brand of the organization and its family. This deep dive into the organization will enable the CDA to better communicate a unified brand story that will engage and unite internal stakeholders.
2) Membership 2020 has already reached a nearly 3% membership increase over the market trend since 2009, resulting in the first market share growth in almost a decade.
3) The CDA worked to see the passage of SB 190, the non-covered services legislation that will prohibit insurance companies for dictating fees on services they do not cover.
4) The CDA has engaged Snowgumbo Services to begin the transition of endorsed programs and other non-dues revenue sources into CDA Enterprises as the CDA’s for-profit subsidiary. This will enable the CDA to grow into a stronger organization and better serve its members.
5) Contributions to the CDA Foundation have tripled over last year’s giving. The foundation provided grant dollars to Colorado based oral health programs which will deliver dental care to nearly 30 Colorado counties. A new board of directors is formally in place and has set a five year goal of growing its fund to $1 million.

The majority of resolutions coming before the House of Delegates in 2017 are a result of the strategic plan and some of the best practice models of association management and governance. As we transition to a new membership base, the board believes it is important to offer those dentists an association membership experience that meets their needs and demands. These changes may seem radical, but are necessary to advance the CDA as the Leading Advocate for Oral Health in Colorado.

In March, the CDA was recognized by the American Dental Education Association’s ADEAGies Foundation with its annual Gies Award for Vision for a Public or Private Partner at its annual meeting in Long Beach, CA. This award was given to the CDA for its vision to expand licensure to non-patient based exams during the 2014 Sunset Review. This decision by the organization was visionary and other states are following our lead.

The board’s vision for success over the next five years is to build stronger and more engaged leaders throughout the organization, to grow its market share of membership to 81.2%, and to help every member be successful in all aspects of their dental career. As the executive director of the Colorado Dental Association I am excited about the direction this board of directors has set and I believe it does follow the lead of other visionary organizations all faced with similar challenges of creating the membership experience of the future.

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