Tonya Almond
Vice President, Meetings & Continuing Education
American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry

Tonya Almond, CMP. The Vice President of Meetings and Continuing Education for the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry (AAPD), Tonya has spent her career in association management helping organizations meet and exceed their financial goals through her strategic vision and ability to increase non-dues revenues. Prior to joining the AAPD in 2009, Tonya was the Director of Meetings & Event Services at the American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (AAPM&R).

She also worked at DRI and a variety of associations during her time at SmithBucklin. Tonya is a member of the PCMA Board of Directors. She previously served as a Board Member for the Greater Midwest Chapter of PCMA and received the GMC PCMA 2013 Outstanding Service to a Chapter Award. She lives in the Chicago area with her husband, Dave, their two sons and boxer, Izzy.

AAPD 2018: Bringing the Aloha Spirit, Networking, and Education to Pediatric Dentistry
Mukesh Buch
Feb 07, 2018

Could you tell us about the history and the mission of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry?

The American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, or AAPD,was founded in 1947 and represents the specialty of pediatric dentistry. Our vision is to provide optimal oral health for all children.

After graduationfrom dental school, our members go through additional two-year pediatric dentistry residency programto focus on the specific needs of children. They also serve the big population of children with special needs and sometimes, when these children grow, they don’t have anywhere else to go.

So, our members often treat people with special needs into adulthood. Their main focus is that the people, who need dental care, are able to get it. The access to care is often an issue and many of our members work with Medicaid patients.

We have more than 10,000 members and the majority of them are pediatric dentists. However, we also accept general dentists as affiliate members, when they treat a lot of children in their practice.Even when they are not members, general dentists are welcome to attendour educational events or the annual session.

Ultimately, our goal is to make sure that the children get the best care they can. Our memberstake care of approximately a third of the children in the country. We work with the dentists in each of their communities, so referrals are encouraged, and the general dentist can refer to pediatric dentists in the area.

What are the main issues that pediatric dentistryfaces today?

Pediatric dentistry, at its heart, is trying to prevent tooth decay or caries.Childhood cavity is the biggest issue and it is totally preventable.Pediatric dentists want children to follow the regimen of brushing two times a day for two minutes, flossing their teeth, and usingfluoride toothpaste. Their ultimate goal is to eradicate caries in children.

Our approach is providing a lot of education bothto parents and other pediatricians to make sure that they refer early enough, before the cavitiesstart.Sometimes parents put their child to bed with a cup of milk, which is bad for the teeth, so the goal is to avoid such habits.

Part of the training is about behavior management for the children with special needs,so that they have the optimal experience. They want to make brushing fun and a lot of our exhibitors and sponsors have that same desire.

Our foundation delivers access to care both at the community level and nationally. At our annual session, we do a day of care at the location of the event. Since 2010, the foundation has given out more than $4.5 million in grants to a number of children. Some of our members do mission work outside of the United States, again serving underprivileged areas.

We try not only to educate them on clinical areas, but also to give them a little bit of fun, inspiration and motivation, so that they go back to their offices fully charged.

What’s the theme for the event this year and where will it happen?

The AAPD's 71st Annual Session will be held in Honolulu, Hawaii from May 24 to May 27, 2018. The theme is very much around the Aloha spirit. We’ll definitely focus on the family and the pediatric dental community.

new feature this year is the international research presentation. The international community can submit abstracts and the selected ones will be presented at the annual session. Overall, this year we are trying to increase the engagement of the international community.

We have a good number of international members from Canada, South America, and the Asia-Pacific region. Many of them have trained in the U.S. and then have gone back to their home countries to practice.

What are the other main features of the event?

We’ll do one day dental healthcare at the Hawaii Convention Center, where our meeting is.

The scientific program committee makes sure that we have sessions with some of the best speakers of pediatric dentistry. Sedation and safety is a big priority for our members and our board is specifically looking at safety in the dental office. In another session, one of our experts will talk about cavities. Another session will cover restorations, including different materials and techniques. One of our experts will talk about oral pathology.

We also have education for the dental team, which includes the pediatric dentistsand their staff.About 1,000 people working in dental offices attend our meeting. We created a pre-conference course built around the dental team and how can we help them be more successful both in their careerand also at home. It is focused around wellness, mindfulness,and productivity. We have three top speakers about practice management topics.

Another area of focus is the residents and the new dentists. We have created little hubs or stages on some hot topics related to clinical or practice management and the attendees get to crowdsource the topics. We organize the sessions and the audience rotates around the room, based on which topics they want to hear. So, during the hours of the new dentist session, the audience can listen to some of our best experts.

A key goal of our scientific program committee is to make sure that we deliver important clinical information that dentists can bring back to their practice and start implementing.

How do you approach the issues of professional practice staffing and career transition?

The pre-conference course addresses staff retention, including the financial aspect. We help with financial planning and services in some sessions.

Last year we created a 90-minute peer-to-peer learning session for the office staff, called the Coffee Clutch. We had the audience sitting in different tables,because we wanted them to discuss with peers the issues of a dental office. We had such great feedback,that we decided to extend the session to three hours this year.

So, we can discuss practice management issuesor difficult areas, such as conversations with mom about their child’s obesity issues, for example.

We’ve already identified some sessions on practice transitions issues and we plan to do them in Chicago in 2019. A particular focus will be student debt repayment, and we are working on a repayment plan that would help refinance the debt.We help members find the roadmap to transition into a practice or into a large group practice.

Right now the trend is large group practices, not solo practitioners, and we have some great examples across the country of our members creating their own successfulgroup practices.

How many attendees and exhibitors attend the annual session?

We had about 5,700 attendeeslast year in Washington, D.C., including guests, children, and exhibitors. We’ve almost doubled the size of our exhibit hall. Probably about a third of our 6,800 active members attend the annual session. The other attendees are residents, office staff, and exhibitors. We probably have about 600 exhibiting personnel and about 800 residents.

This year we already have more than 2,200 attendees registered for the meeting in Hawaii and I anticipate that number to grow to about 5,500.I expect a decline of 15% in our exhibitors, only because it may be costly for some of them to ship everything over,but we are definitely still on track. Right now we are at 90% of our exhibitor budget and I am confident that we will meet or exceed our exhibitor goals. We anticipate about 200 exhibitors this year.

Many members view the annual meeting as part of their staff bonus plan, so they bring their entire team. There is always a group of people that will come,regardless of where the meeting is located.

Our approach is providing a lot of education both to parents and other pediatricians to make sure that they refer early enough, before the cavities start.

What is the square footage and the main features ofthe exhibit hall?

It is a space of about 100,000 square feet. We have an ePoster competition andwe have created an app to project it on a large monitor. Our residents present their research during that time period, so that’s a big driver for the show floor.

Last year we created a tech bar, which was very engaging. Our consultants developed a number of educational sessions, which help using gadgets and be more productive. Those sessions ranged from learning how to Snapchat with teenage kids to developing productivity apps for the office and marketing-based websites.

There is also fun element, such as Snapchat goggles, little drones, or teaching people how to use the Apple watches.

We’ll also have an area dedicated to children. We have an Xpresso coffee bar and I launched apodcast of PEDOx Teeth Talkin April 2017. This year we’ll have a little podcast studio inside the tech bar area and our host will interview some of the speakers. Then we’ll repurpose that content for a PEDOx Teeth Talk session.

Last year we rebranded our booth to be more in line with our campaigns, created with our PR agency Weber Shandwick. These campaigns were designed to reach parents and include a whole toolkit around mouth monsters.

The goal is to make children more comfortable in the chair and to motivate them to get rid of the mouth monsters. So,we redesigned our booth space and the tech bar as part of that campaign.

What’s the role of sponsors?

One of sponsors is involved with the tech bar, while others sponsorthe podcast or the content. The poster competition is also sponsored by one of our partners. We also have a sponsor for the charging station,and the foundation is also presented in our booth.

Who are the keynote speakers?

Last year, our keynote speaker was Mel Robbins. She gave people a lot tothink about with her five-second rule and a call to action. This year, since we are going with the Aloha spirit, we have invited Kevin Wanzer as our keynote speaker.

For the opening ceremony, some people from the local community will give a blessing and a celebration of the Aloha spirit,and will share what the Hawaiin culture is like. We want our attendees to understand where they are, to respect that, and to carry the feeling of the Aloha spirit with them throughout their time in Hawaii.

We’ll also use the services of Judith Holler, a keynote speaker,to help tie everything that we are trying to accomplish during that opening ceremony.

What are the highlights of the welcome reception?

One of the things that we are known for is our welcome reception. Last year probably about 5,000 people attended the reception at FedExField. We also had another pavilion and a private club for some of our donors.

This year we’ll have the Aloha Fest at the Bishop Museum, which highlights the culture of Hawaii. Then we have the Science Adventure Center and a planetarium.

We are flying in a band from California. We have food trucks, a caterer, and a three-hour extravaganza of pure fun, where members get to reconnect with their dental school friends or people they went to residency with. There will be tattoo artistsand many different things, taking place throughout the three hours of the reception.

Our foundationorganizes a dinner for the donors. The closing dinner is at the Waialae Country Club and Chef Alan Wong will be creating the design for the menu.

In addition,we’ll break some of the time that the attendees are in the session, but we’ll still deliver the number of CE hours that are important to them. So, there is more time for networking within the convention center and other receptions that take place at the Hilton Hawaiin Village,which is our headquarter hotel.

Many schools organize alumni events during our meeting. Our PAC Committee does an event. There is a private reception for our president,and new dentists have their own happy hour. So, there are plenty of networking opportunities at this meeting to bring people together.

What should attendees expect from the event?

I want attendees to stay engaged through the education or the networking, and to create their own experience. We believe that we provide what they want; they just need to find their own pathway.

For the international and the new attendees,we have created a little bit more time between the sessions, so that they can talk to their peers, because so many people find value in the peer-to-peer connection. We offer lunch in the exhibit hall and a little bit more time to linger, so that they can think about what they have just learned.

One of the sessions that we created last year and we’ll do again this year,is trying our own version of a TED-talk style, which is not clinically focused. It will focus on things that are personal to the speakers. I believe that approach helpsto motivate our members.

They work very hard and we try not only to educate them on clinical areas, but also to give them a little bit of fun, inspiration and motivation, so that they go back to their offices fully charged.

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