April 18, 2019


Keynote speaker


New York Academy of Dentistry Inaugural


April 2019

Dr. Gabriela Lee

"A recent invocation to this group stated that if we see farther and more clearly, it’s because we are akin to dwarfs standing on shoulders of giants"

I am humbled and honored to be standing here before all of you. I want to thank and compliment Dr. David Pitman for an excellent leadership year, which he filled with really relevant and interesting speakers.

A recent invocation to this group stated that if we see farther and more clearly, it’s because we are akin to dwarfs standing on shoulders of giants. This concept is most commonly attributed to Sir Isaac Newton, but actually goes as far back as the 10th century. This concept rings so true for me because of my good fortune to have so many giants in my life. The most obvious giant in my life professionally is Dr. Eugene P. LaSota, former president of this Academy and many other prestigious dental organizations. He is truly an extraordinary man. He’s like Hemingway but with true heart and courage. He’s a world-class big game hunter, a cowboy, a diver, a fisherman, a pilot, a volunteer police surgeon, a professor, a marksman and a dental clinician extraordinaire!

I was so lucky to have him as my clinical instructor in my senior year. And aside from being a great teacher, he and Dennis Morea had the best jokes. Doc hired me as an associate 30 years ago this coming November. He did so against the advice of several of his colleagues who warned him against hiring a woman, never mind an Asian woman. He never micromanaged but taught via example sharing his wisdom and passion for dentistry which was always imparted with supreme care, respect and empathy for his patients. Professionally it is on his shoulders that I stand today.

The next giant I have been fortunate enough to share the past 30 years is our office manager, Caralyn Levy. Without her dedication, integrity, business smarts and immense skill set neither Doc nor I would have the practice we have today. She is as integral to the practice as either Doc or I. No words of thanks are sufficient to express my profound gratitude and respect.

And the last of my giants who are here today is my lifelong best friend Elizabeth Mui. Bette is like my sister from a different mister. She’s been there for all my major life events, the good, the bad, happy, sad. She is my daughter’s Godmother. Bette is the kindest, most giving, most humane person I have known. From her example, I learned generosity, kindness, friendship and how to be the best person I can be. And last but not least, I’d like to acknowledge my daughter, Zoe who will one day be a giant on her own. She’s been my joy and core and I’m ever so grateful to have her as my girl.

Looking ahead to this coming year, I intend to continue the work begun by our immediate past presidents. The NYAD is 98 years old this year. We all know the founding principles of elevation of the profession through rigorous scientific education and excellence in the ethical practice of dentistry. The organization has definitely grown and developed over this past century without ever losing sight of these principles. However, today we are seeing major economic and social upheaval on a global level; occurring at an exponential rate in great part due to technology.

Multiple business and professional paradigms are being pushed aside by unicorn startups that have quickly become the new norm. Old forms of business either adapt and evolve or die. In this rapidly changing environment, Dentistry is also facing serious changes and major challenges.

The cost of dental education can easily leave a new dentist in debt to the tune of half a million dollars. This can affect their choices in career paths and day to day clinical practice. Insurance companies and independent corporations are working to capitalize on the profession and to do away with the independent dental practice model as most of us know it. How aware and prepared we are for these inevitable changes is what will determine the long-term viability of our profession as a profession. It is my goal to continue the process of evolution necessary for the NYAD to retain its relevance, its usefulness, its engagement and its prestige for all our members so they are made aware and are better prepared for the coming changes.

I want the NYAD and all of its members to be FUTURE READY!

In this endeavor I enjoin all of you to feel free to share suggestions, concerns, needs, ideas in any manner you feel comfortable.

Thank you all for your support and trust.

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