Wednesday, October 20, 2021

Cesar Sabates, DDS Takes Office as the 158th President of the American Dental Association


Almost everyone has had the experience of knowing someone who does great things, is incredibly successful, or garners fame and fortune.  At the recent Smilecon last week in Las Vegas, one of my hosts was from Seattle and she told me the story of how a good friend of hers was the person who wrote the code for the original Solitaire game in Microsoft Windows.

I now have one of those stories too.  I went to dental school at the University of Missouri - Kansas City School of Dentistry.  My alma mater has a reputation of training outstanding clinical doctors, but we're not known for our leadership skills.  That simple fact means it is even more amazing that I can say with pride that I was, and am, friends with someone who has accomplished a lot in our field and has summited to the pinnacle of leadership.

On Saturday October 16, 2021 my friend Dr. Cesar Sabates was installed as the 158th president of the ADA.  He's not only the president, but he's also the only first president of Cuban-American decent.  His family came to the United States when he was a just a boy, but his family has made the most of the American dream.  They came to the U.S. in 1967 and ended up settling in the Kansas City area so that his father could attend UMKC and receive his dental degree.  Then his son followed in his footsteps.

I met Cesar in the mid-80s when I started at UMKC.  In my last two years of training, he and I were assigned to the same team which placed us in close proximity to each other on a regular basis.  He was a couple of years older than I was, plus he was married while I was single and considerably more prone to, ahem, "social exuberance".  However we struck up a bond and I always enjoyed talking with him.

We graduated and he moved to Miami to celebrate his Cuban heritage while I stayed in the KC area.  We drifted apart, but with the Internet came a chance to reconnect.  Also, we both enjoyed the benefits of organized dentistry and industry meetings.  I'd frequently see Cesar at meetings across the US.  I enjoyed teaching, lecturing, and writing.  Cesar enjoyed the political side of the profession as he worked to move it forward into a new and exciting future.

My friend has had a tremendous impact on dentistry.  He now leads the largest dental professional organization in the United States.  None of his success was given to him.  He has always worked hard.  I am so proud of what Dr. Sabates has accomplished.  He is the first Cuban American to ever lead the ADA and I could not have a greater sense of pride in what he has accomplished.  A little boy came from Cuba and went on to leave a footprint on a profession.  I don't think either of us envisioned how far he would go... but I have a feeling he's not done just yet!

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