Camaraderie, networking and connecting with colleagues from across the state are always top reasons why many members attend the event. The 2024 ODA Leadership Institute is scheduled for March 22-23 at the Hilton Columbus Polaris Hotel. Learn more and register at

The ODA Leadership Institute is the ODA’s award-winning program that provides attendees an opportunity to build their leadership skills and learn about updates on issues important to dentistry in Ohio. More than 200 ODA members attend this yearly event which is free for all ODA members, dental students and dental residents as a benefit of membership.

“Leadership Institute is truly a membership benefit because of all the value you get for free! Two meals are included, plus several hours of CE credits, and the networking opportunities make attending this meeting a no-brainer,” said Dr. Jimmy Zimmerman, III, a general dentist in Toledo. “Additionally, there is special programming Friday night just for dental students, residents, and new dentists to connect and have fun at the mall! I have attended every year since dental school and it’s a program I look forward to every year.”

The 2024 ODA Leadership Institute is scheduled for March 22-23 at the Hilton Columbus Polaris Hotel. The event will feature keynote presentations, roundtable discussions, breakout sessions and opportunities for camaraderie and fellowship.

“I observed some life-long friendships, and I witnessed the strong emotions regarding a shift in duties,” said Dr. Allison Aufderhaar, a general dentist in Ironton. “It was evident the compassion people have towards dentistry and the patients to which they provide care, their staff, etc. The Leadership Institute did bring to light some topics I did not realize were huge issues in dentistry considering I’m a fairly new graduate. I’d encourage anyone to go and see what they can gather and learn from it.”

Attendees consistently rank the event as one of the top leadership development workshops they have taken.

“Where else can you get a two-day CE event at no cost? This event brings together people from all parts of Ohio, of all different ages, and in different parts of their professional career,” said Dr. Winnie Wong, a general dentist in Cuyahoga Falls. “You never know who you will meet and what opportunities you will be given!”

Camaraderie, networking and connecting with colleagues from across the state are always top reasons why many members attend the event.

“My favorite part of Leadership Institute is the mixing and mingling that happens between the wonderful speakers – but getting to know other ODA members who are developing their own leadership skills is how we create our network of contacts,” said Dr. Grace Eichler, chair of the Subcouncil on New Dentists. “Since last year, I’ve kept in touch and served on committees with some of the people I just met for the first time at Leadership Institute. This is the perfect sized event where you will see some familiar faces but also have the ability to meet new ones.”

Wong agrees. “The Leadership Institute is amazing for connecting with old and new colleagues alike,” she said. “Just this past year, I reconnected with an old colleague that now practices in Ohio that I met at an endodontic course in Santa Barbara in 2017. What are the chances of that! As the chair of the GCDS new dentist committee, I created a scholarship fund, sponsored by Greater Cleveland Dental Society, for new dentists to attend which encourages leadership development and mentorship within the dental society. The CE and networking is invaluable at the Leadership Institute.”

Zimmerman said Leadership Institute is a great way to meet dentists from around the state.

“Due to the condensed nature of the program, you can’t help but meet other influential doctors in organized dentistry,” he said. “I have been able to connect with many dentists who have since become mentors to me, as well as meet national speakers (like Dr. Nacho) and get to know them on an individual basis. Especially if you are a dental student/resident looking to find a prospective employer or mentor in your area, this is a great way to meet people in a relaxed setting.”

This year’s Leadership Institute provides attendees an opportunity to earn up to four free CE credits.

“Since we just renewed our licenses, it’s easy to forget about CE for the next two years,” Eichler said. “But getting free, live CE as an ODA member is a huge benefit to setting yourself (and your practice) up for success in the future!”

Zimmerman said his favorite part about Leadership Institute is talking about the “business” side of dentistry.

“Most CE courses are geared to enhance our clinical skills, which is obviously important,” he said. “But there is so much more to dentistry than how to cut crowns! Past topics have included how to incentivize staff members, creating the best experience for patients, and even learning about new legislation that will affect all dentists!”

For more details about this year’s Leadership Institute and to register, click here.