Ann Battrell, RDH, MSDH, is the executive director of ADHA. She is the first registered dental hygienist and the first former ADHA president to serve in this position. Previously, Battrell served as assistant executive director for Strategic Planning and Education for ADHA, following her promotion from director of Education in October 2004. She began her career with the association in June 2000 as manager of Education.
As executive director, Battrell represents ADHA to governmental bodies, educational institutions, other related associations, and corporate partners. She also oversees a host of staff programs from membership recruitment to consumer awareness, as well as the comprehensive responsibilities for all elements of ADHA’s operation.
Please describe the evolution of your career path from clinical practice to executive director of ADHA.
Each turn in my career presented an opportunity that seemed to unfold at the right time. When I was graduating from dental hygiene school at Northwestern University, I had the opportunity to pursue my baccalaureate degree. This choice was fundamental for the rest of my career because it led to my becoming a dental hygiene educator.
My ADHA experience began after I moved to Florida where I became involved with the local dental hygiene association. I was president of the Florida Dental Hygienists’ Association in 1989. Then my family moved to South Carolina and I found myself without an official leadership position with a state dental hygiene organization. Brenda McCarson, RDH, BS, was the District IV trustee for ADHA at that time. She encouraged me to run for her trustee position. I was elected by the District IV delegates and served in that role for one term. Two years later I was encouraged by friends and mentors to run for ADHA vice president. At each phase of my career, there has always been someone who stepped in and encouraged or challenged me. In my career, I think mentoring and being open to new opportunities have been crucial.
I became president of ADHA in 1996, which is where I developed my love of strategic planning. As ADHA president you need to understand the organization’s overall strategic plan and how the budget is integrated into that plan. I continued to conduct ADHA’s strategic planning session as a consultant after I finished my time on the ADHA Board of Trustees. A few years later there was an opening on ADHA staff for the manager of Dental Hygiene Education so I applied and got the job. I was thrilled to come back to my hometown of Chicago. Two years later I was named director of Education. At that time I was the only dental hygienist who was serving in a director level position so I was able to provide a lot of specific dental hygiene information to ADHA’s senior staff.
A few years later when the executive director position opened, I was not a candidate in the first round of the search process. ADHA chose two final candidates who appeared before the board and the top candidate withdrew from consideration. Following the Board of Trustee’s decision to reopen the search process, some colleagues encouraged me to throw my hat into the ring. I came to the conclusion that if I didn’t try that I might always wonder “What if?” It was time for me to determine for myself if I felt I could serve ADHA and the dental hygiene profession well in the executive director position. After some soul searching I determined that it was time to take a major step forward in my career. I assumed the position in 2005. It has been a very rewarding experience to serve as the executive director these past 5 years. While it is an honor to be the first dental hygienist to hold this position, it is more important that I not be the last dental hygienist to serve as executive director.