This profile of Greg Hill, NYSDA executive director, was originally printed in our Second Quarter 2023 issue of The Scope: Dental Edition. Read more articles from the publication here.
Greg Hill, the executive director of the New York State Dental Association (NYSDA), is nearing the end of his first year in this role. MLMIC recently sat down with Greg to discuss his tenure so far, his goals for the future and the road he travelled that led him to NYSDA.
Read our conversation with Greg Hill below!
Q: Tell us a little bit about your background and your professional life before NYSDA.
I was born and raised in Kansas, went to law school, and spent a couple of years working in the Kansas State Capitol with the State Senate Majority Leader. In 1999, I began working with the Kansas Dental Association (KDA). While there, I was proud to work on the statewide public health campaign for water fluoridation, help establish the KDA Charitable Foundation and be an early adopter of the use of social media and multimedia communications for KDA.
In 2014, an opportunity arose to join the Colorado Dental Association (CDA) and the timing was right. At CDA, my team and I created a strategic action plan to move the CDA forward both in terms of growth and membership offerings, and the plan was moving ahead successfully by the time I left to join NYSDA. Working with the CDA was professionally rewarding, and Colorado was also a great place to live and raise a family.
Q: What attracted you to NYSDA?
I always knew it would take something really special to leave Colorado, and NYSDA was that something special! The strategic plan for CDA was going well and was at a point where I felt I could step away, without hindering the progress, and give the new executive director the ability to make the plan their own.
I looked at NYSDA as one of those incredibly unique opportunities that is not going to come along very often in life. With NYSDA being the second largest state dental association in the country, I was confident that joining was sure to provide new professional challenges and opportunities. I am fortunate and honored to have this position.
Q: What are your goals for NYSDA?
I believe in being forward-looking. To that end, I want to help NYSDA stay at the forefront of the technology and innovation that has come to dentistry. One element of this is making significant IT upgrades to create a customized member experience so we can recognize and be responsive to the unique needs of individual members. The goal is to deliver an unparalleled customized experience when members interact with NYSDA.
Additionally, I want us to be a leader in proactively providing our membership what they need, when they need it. We know that traditional NYSDA member benefits — such as continuing education and group [dental supplies] purchasing — are being offered by more companies and the space has become more competitive, so NYSDA must continue to be a leader in that space with differentiation that translates into value for members.
Overall, there is a tremendous opportunity for NYSDA to identify needs for our membership and offer them the tools, services, support and more, that is not available in the market. This will, in turn, increase the value of a NYSDA membership.
Q: What is the value of NYSDA for members?
We have an opportunity to serve members from dental school through retirement. My goal is for NYSDA to be a partner and part of dentists’ careers over that entire span by providing unique offerings that match the changing needs at the different stages of each member’s professional journey. Part of this will come through a personalized user experience so that membership is not just paying annual dues but rather is more about the value you get from NYSDA membership.
Q: How do you foresee NYSDA supporting dental students and new dentists?
I want to help NYSDA continue to assist new dentists with student loan relief by advocating for them to be able to defer interest and loan payments while they are in residency program, for example, and creating new and expanded loan deferral, forgiveness and repayment programs. Continued rising tuition costs is creating a situation where nearly two-thirds of dental school graduates with educational debt are starting their careers owing close to $300,000 in student loan debt. This results in even greater financial challenges for graduates. NYSDA’s goal is to help members meet the many financial obstacles they may face.
Q: What key elements are you putting in place as you plan for NYSDA’s future?
I believe NYSDA is in a strong place and is becoming a nimbler organization – one that is able to act fast in a smart way. I am working to propose a strategic plan that will leverage the latest technology and strengthen communications and relationships to add significant value for our members. I am focusing on improving internal technology infrastructure and strengthening relationships with component organizations and partners so we can harness our collective power to achieve common goals.
We are also doing a bit of restructuring. We have a new director of government affairs and have contracted with a new lobbying firm so that we are in a position to address the legislative challenges the profession faces now and will continue to face moving forward.
Q: What do you see as the biggest challenges facing dentistry right now?
Some challenges in the dental profession overall are license portability between states and workforce issues such as the shortage of dental assistants and hygienists. NYSDA is currently working to create a 21st Century dental workforce which not only creates and expands new programs, but also modernizes the licensure process.
Q: What would surprise NYSDA members about your day-to-day work?
I think people may not know the importance of relationship building with my team here and with members. I’ve never been one who thinks I have all the answers. I believe strongly in surrounding myself with people who have specific knowledge of their particular area of expertise. I rely on my team to bring the best recommendations that they have and then we talk through it. And so, a lot of my day-to-day work is having meetings with staff members.
I believe that to be successful you must approach challenges by surrounding yourself with an effective team of talented people and leveraging their expertise to deliver the best outcomes. Having input from varied perspectives is incredibly valuable, and success consists of building on each team members’ strengths, then trusting each team member to get things done. When you are surrounded by the right people and build the right team, no challenge is too big to overcome. That has always been my philosophy.
Q: What plans do you have for the New York State Dental Foundation (NYSDF)?
I have been working collaboratively with Stacy McIlduff, the new executive director at NYSDF. Historically, that dental foundation approach is something that is particularly important to me. I recognize the value that a dental foundation can bring to the profession, not only from a standpoint of dentists giving back into their community – financially or by volunteering time, but also because of how that goodwill helps the profession.
Giving back is important to me, and I want to make sure that we’re a strong partner and helping NYSDF grow and thrive as a part of the bigger organized dentistry picture in New York.
Thank you, Greg, for sharing your insights with us!
Readers, if you enjoy getting to know members of the NYS dental community, read our conversation with 2022-2023 NYSDA President Dr. James Galati or our article on Dr. Don Safferstein, a Bronx County dentist giving back through volunteer work with the Dental Lifeline Network.
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