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Permanent link  2013 CDS president shares insights at his Installation


Following is the speech delivered by incoming 2013 CDS president David Fulton Jr. at the Installation of Officers Nov. 11, 2012:

Let me be the first to welcome you to A Midwinter Night’s Dream, a theme not just for four days in February, but a theme whose Shakespearean prose and core philosophy to dream can carry the Chicago Dental Society through the entire year of 2013.

I stand before you honored that I am the first son in the 148 years of CDS to be elevated to the CDS office of president following in the footsteps of his father. In passing, I must honor a past president, Tope Maxson, whose own father rose to the office of president-elect but stepped down before his presidency due to an old rule which stipulated that the president must reside in Cook County. 

Now this honor, too, has not come without some ridicule from certain past and present officers. Do to my inordinate amount of planning far in advance over the past four years, when I’ve needed something or requested something, staff has been most gracious and prompt in attempting to make good on my requests. This, you see, has been termed “The Legacy Factor.” Or as Dr. Ian Elliott most graciously has silently demonstrated to me over the years, an “L” formed by one’s right hand and placed over one’s forehead announces the activation of The Legacy Factor. All kidding aside, I realize that I have had an advantage over some of my predecessors. I have truly grown up in the business and because the Chicago Dental Society has been blessed with staff whose longevity outlasts even my professional tenure going back to before my dental school years, they have truly born witness to my growth into the leader who stands before you tonight. They are truly part of my extended family. From Randy Grove, Barry Ranallo, Al Kleszynski all the way down the line of CDS staff, I thank each and every one of you for the sincere effort you have given me in bringing A Midwinter Night’s Dream to fruition.

Many newly installed presidents use this evening to launch their perspectives on the profession as it stands today; bullet points then follow as to their agenda for the society in their upcoming year. I, on the other hand, am going to take a different approach. Tonight, I am going to introduce you to me. Though some in the room know me quite well, many do not, and I want you all to leave tonight with a better perspective of who you have placed in charge of leading this prestigious society and perhaps a quick glimpse as to where we are all going on this wonderful ride together. For you see, in my time of watching and learning from many of our past officers — many of whom are in this room tonight — I learned that to be the most effective of presidents, you don’t spend the 12 months of your Presidency trying to implement new programs or new ideas to and through your board. No, to be the most effective president you need to have been the most effective treasurer and vice president and secretary and president-elect. For it is those first four years in office when you need to present your dreams and visions, thus allowing time to take perhaps a few of those dreams, demonstrate a vision which your board and staff can digest, and then turn them lose to act, creating a reality from a dream which has the potential to further the mission of the society.

Tonight you have given me the honor and privilege of leading your society this next year, and for that I owe you. I owe you my greatest effort. Although we live in a time of great recession and hardship, we still are blessed to live in a country of great excess and abundance. As a dreamer, one of my favorite places on earth, a favorite of all dreamers, is the land of Disney. I have been going to Disneyland and subsequently Disneyworld since 1962.There are two life lessons from Disney which I would like to share with you tonight. I feel that they both carry an important role in the formulation of my dreams for the Chicago Dental Society. 

For the first, my boys can tell you that one of my “must” rides each visit to Disney is one which you perhaps might not guess. It’s not fast or high-tech. It is “It’s a Small World.” I have dragged my kids on that ride more times than they wish to admit. But each time since childhood, it continues to remind me of what is such a simple and meaningful concept. It is a small world that we live in after all and getting smaller through technology each and every year.

Disney Lesson #2: Back in the early days of Disney there was no such thing as an all-inclusive pass, an entry which entitled you to ride as many rides as you wanted as many times as you like. You would instead be issued a ticket book with A tickets through E tickets. E tickets were few and the most prized. Once gone, there was no more riding of the best attractions in the park. You had to truly enjoy the experience because in all likelihood it would be the only time you could ride that ride. That is how I try to experience life and surely how I approach this experience of serving as your president. We only have been given only one E ticket for 2013. I am asking each of you to ride this ride with me.

This is not the society of your fathers, and it has certainly evolved since my own father served as its president 14 years past. Several years ago your Board had the foresight to look into the future to grasp onto the idea that we can not rest on our laurels and past successes. — especially in times when meeting attendance nationally has been spiraling downward. We must continue to expand the horizons with which we as a society influence our profession and our colleagues in our own tri-county area, on a national level and finally on the global scene. We seem to have reached a plateau several years ago with enrollment of active members within our nine branches. Our young colleagues learn differently than we did. Entire college courses are now offered online. The art of personal, one-on-one communication with the X Generation of dental graduates is diminishing, and we as a dental society needed to recognize this long before it impacted our Midwinter Meeting. These youngest colleagues are quite comfortable sitting down at a computer screen and accessing everything they need in continuing education. We needed to greet them at their own electronic door with welcoming arms. Once, through online services, they are exposed to the Chicago Dental Society, I feel we can then coax them out of their “cocoon” and back into involvement of study clubs, branch meetings and the Midwinter Meeting.

The opportunities for associate membership both nationally and especially internationally are almost limitless. I feel that one day when a colleague from France, Italy, Brazil or Mexico thinks of American Dentistry, simultaneously they will think of the Chicago Dental Society. Why us over the ADA? Because we have consistency. We have specificity. We have a face. We have a city and a personality unlike anywhere else in this world. As an international associate member of the Chicago Dental Society, they too can feel an intimate bond to us and to our profession.

Although I feel that the world may be our oyster, its one heck of a big oyster and your Board is taking very careful, graduated steps in accomplishing its globalization goals. I believe that these goals are crucial in insuring our continued success with our own Midwinter Meeting and the future prosperity of our organization.

The Midwinter Meeting has grown over the decades, partially due to the fact that we have served as the central hub for the greatest speakers our profession has to offer and scouts trying to find that next gem of a speaker for their own meeting. Our meeting is where they come together — out of which has risen the finest VIP/Speaker Lounge in the nation. Now is the time for us to take that one step further. Let us now work to become the conduit for all who are the principles in organizing dental exhibitions and scientific sessions not just in the United States, but in the world. The Midwinter Meeting can and will be the place where representatives for all the major dental meetings of the world come together to make those necessary contacts to further the successes of their own meetings.

As we now have in place a solid plan to market ourselves, our associate memberships and our Midwinter Meeting internationally, your Board of Directors and Officers are sensitive to the needs CDS has in expanding our influence and presence to our own Midwestern neighboring states. We are in the process of discussion and development of a strategic plan to increase our presence in those states as well.

It is truly an exciting time for the Chicago Dental Society… a family growing larger!

Speaking of family, let me introduce them all to you tonight. If it not were for them, I would not be here. Let me start with my dad, Dave Fulton Sr. Not too many children in any profession can brag about working side-by-side with their father as their partner for more than 25 years. I have had this strange knack of following in my father’s footsteps…never intentionally…simply naturally. We both completed our undergraduate degrees from Miami of Ohio; both members of the same fraternity, Delta Upsilon, and of course both received our DDS degrees from The Ohio State University.

Where we differ can be found in the grades we received while enjoying our educational experiences. Pop was a Cum Laude, OKU graduate; I was an O Yea I graduated period! It was in the first few years of practicing with my father where I really began to appreciate the mentoring which would continue throughout our professional careers together. Throughout all the teachings of how to better one’s technique or business aptitude in the profession, it was his teachings of ethical standards which have provided me with the ballast to sail through both the good times and hard times our profession has weathered. Those standards have provided the ballast to keep me upright in both the type and quality of dental care which I grew up with and have provided to my own patients these 25 years. It has fueled my need to assure that these same standards of private practice are available to the next generation of dentists. Being the father of three sons myself, I can only imagine the pride you must feel, Pop, in seeing me on this stage tonight. Thanks for being there for me and with me all these years. I applaud all your years of service to our society and our profession.

With that said, I can tell you that a man is only as strong as the women who have been in his life, who have supported him, raised him and loved him. Let me start with my mother, Virginia Fulton. No more important person in any child’s life is his mother. As much as my dad has been an influence in my adult, professional life, my “stay home” mother was the back bone of the family when I was a young lad. It was she who played a prominent role in laying the foundation for he who would one day become the man you see before you tonight. With my mom and dad divorcing when I was in college, my mom has not had the opportunity to share with me many of my professional successes to date. Tonight that all changes. Mom, would you please stand up and take a bow.

Next up, one of your former first ladies Laura Fulton, my stepmother. When I speak the word stepmother, I immediately get the Cinderella image of the wicked stepmother, and Laura has been the polar opposite of that. She has been our office manager all 25 years I have been in practice, and if you owe Fulton and Fulton money, it’s Laura who makes the calls. Trust me: you don’t want to get one of those calls. She has always been someone I could talk to in confidence and whose opinion I’ve trusted. Laura could you please stand.

Two of my three sons are here tonight. My oldest, David, couldn’t fly in for this event. A Justice/Criminal Justice double major, David is finishing up his first semester of his senior year at Arizona State University and interning with the Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Agency. Hopefully he will be gainfully employed full time with Uncle Sam as a “secret agent man” following graduation.

Our middle son, Spencer, is a second year student at the College of Lake County majoring in Biology, and our youngest, Lucas, is a Junior at Warren Township High School.  

Through their accomplishments in sports, I have learned as much as they have about perseverance and the personal drive needed to achieve those dreams which you set for yourself. It is wonderful when a parent can truthfully say that the tables were turned and the child taught the parent a life lesson. I am proud of you guys. Thanks for sharing tonight with me. 

My mother in-law, Cherry Gregg, please stand. My one word of advice on in-laws; love them like your own parents and they’ll love you back just the same. Thanks, Mom, for being here. 

I would like to thank my staff for keeping the office lights burning when I am running all over the place. More importantly for keeping the Old Man happy and busy and helping him keep the doors open while I am so often away on CDS business.

Hillary Rodham Clinton’s quote, “It takes a village to raise a child,” rings powerfully true in the Fulton Jr. Family. We have two of our closest friends who are also our neighbors, members of our “village,” and parents of two sons with whom our kids have grown up together, Ray and Denise Oswald. We’ve shared many thoughts on the collective power of parenting and politics. If not without friends like the Oswalds could younger professionals like Kim and I take the needed time away from the home. They have always been there to keep a watchful eye over the house, i.e. Party Patrol!

To my political party, the Progressive Club: your support of me over the years to help lift me to this position is not forgotten. I made you one promise five years ago when you placed my name in nomination as an officer of CDS. That promise was to serve the society in a manner which would make you proud of me and proud to be a Progressive. I plan to hold true to that promise.

Two rules I have always tried to live by: 1.) If you don’t know what you’re doing at least look good doing it. 2.) Always be surrounded with people much smarter than yourself. Neither of those rules apply to these next gentlemen: Drs. Fijal, Remijas, Fredricksen, Kozal, Sullivan and Elliott. These men represent just a few of the most precious reasons why one should be involved in organized dentistry. Lifelong bonds formed which would never have taken shape if it were not for our involvement in the Chicago Dental Society.

Lastly, to my closest of friends who shares this profession with me, Paul Kattner. A friend with whom I have exchanged professional, ethical, personal opinions and advise with these past 23 years, along with more glasses of wine either of us will ever admit to, thanks for being on the other side of the wall we share on Golf road in Waukegan.

One in every 2 marriages ends in divorce these days. Our young adult population tries harder and harder to pick just the right time to get married. Is it affordable, can we get a house, should we wait well into our 30’s to have children, do we make enough money? I met your first lady in the summer of 1983. I had just graduated college and was a worldly 21-year-old about to start my dental adventure at Ohio State in the fall. She had just graduated high school, a pristine flower yet to be plucked. We didn’t worry about where we were in the grand scheme of things in our lives. We simply knew that grand scheme would be of a design we needed to draw together, and so some 27-plus years ago, 24 months after we met, we married, and Kimberly Gregg became Kimmy Fulton, my wife and your first lady. Kimmy, will you stand. I can assure you that never in a million years did she ever know what grand adventure she was getting herself into in marrying me.

As one of the youngest CDS presidents in history, youth brings on a whole set of challenges of its own. Being able to stand before you now, at the age of 51, I had to hit the ground running in organized dentistry 25 years ago. If it were not for a spouse who loved me enough to try and pretend to glimpse the dream I was chasing, I could have never given up the time at home away from honey-do lists and evening child rearing activities. For all of you younger colleagues in the audience dreaming of one day standing here, one word of advice: share it all with your spouse, and you both will be enriched and equally rewarded in this most special of life’s experiences.

Some time ago while attending a leadership retreat within my church, we were asked to identify ourselves with some inanimate object. For me, a ladder came immediately to mind. Certainly ladders are meant to help oneself go up, but you can also use them to go down, similar to one’s own life of ups and downs. Each rung in that ladder is made up of one of my life’s experiences or important people in my life who either helped to influence me or share in many of those life experiences. Those I have mentioned and many more of you in this room make up rungs in my life ladder. And what is important to note is that as one of those rungs, you weren’t there for me to step on or to climb over to get to where I am today. No, you were there to hold me, support me, strengthen me, to lift me to the stage I stand on this evening.

Edgar Allen Poe most eloquently wrote, “All that you see or seem is but a dream within a dream. They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who only dream by night.” Well folks, you’ve just installed the consummate daydreamer. So let’s not just walk the walk and talk the talk. Come dream a little dream with me, A Midwinter Night’s Dream.

Thank you, and God Bless the CDS.



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