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While AAE members at AAE16 were enjoying high-quality endodontic education, 70 of their guests were in Napa Valley enjoying a tour and tasting at a picturesque winery. The guest excursions are a memorable part of every annual meeting, and the AAE Alliance – a community of spouses, partners and supporters of AAE members – is the driving force behind those activities. In addition, the organization is a generous donor to the Foundation for Endodontics, contributing more than $1,000 over the past 20 years. AAE Alliance President Shelley Zucker and longtime volunteer Val Rossman shared their experiences as part of the Alliance.

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(Left to right): Alliance volunteers Linda Powell and Rebecca Funderburk and Alliance President Shelley Zucker present a $1,000 contribution to Foundation for Endodontics President Dr. Louis E. Rossman in April 2016.

 

The Alliance has been part of the AAE since 1957. How did you first get involved?

Shelley Zucker: Twelve years ago, I was asked to take over the registration process for the Alliance’s charter. Little did I know that this small job would become an opportunity for leadership. As I continued to meet people and participate in Alliance event planning, I wanted to give more time and effort to the organization. It has been such a wonderful experience. I value the friendships I’ve made, the opportunities for involvement in endodontics, and perhaps most importantly, the chance to support the AAE.

Val Rossman: When the annual meeting was held in Philadelphia in 2007, the Alliance planned a group tour of the Barnes Foundation Art Museum. Since I’m from the area, as well as an artist, I was asked to speak about art appreciation at the luncheon before the tour. To be honest, I hadn’t thought much about participating in the Alliance before that, but everyone was so welcoming that I started coming to the events and gradually got more involved. It has been so nice to have my own community at the annual meeting. The meeting can be isolating if you don’t know anyone, but the Alliance provides fun ways to meet people and to form connections that will endure over time.

How has the Alliance changed over the years?

SZ: The Alliance has adapted to the changing demographics of the AAE membership. For example, we used to have a luncheon geared more toward female spouses, but now offer a wider range of activities that appeal to everyone. We host an “open house” style breakfast at the annual meeting as well as an organized outing. In 2014, we headed across the National Harbor to Old Town Alexandria, Virginia, for a history and food tour, and in Seattle, we toured the Chihuly Garden and Glass museum and had a private luncheon in the Space Needle.

VR: Also, we no longer require people to join the Alliance or pay dues. Everyone is welcome at our events. We’re focused on giving people opportunities to explore a new city and gain a sense of camaraderie.

What do you envision for the future of the Alliance?

VR: The Alliance will always provide a means for spouses and partners of AAE members to connect at the annual meeting. In that way, it fills an important need, but we could do more.

SZ: We hope to continue to build upon the strong foundation developed over 59 years of outstanding Alliance leadership. Yes, times have changed, but as the Alliance looks toward celebrating our 60th year at AAE17, we welcome new people to participate and help us plan for the future.We are grateful to the AAE Executive Committee and Board of Directors and the Foundation for Endodontics leadership for their enduring support.

 

The Alliance is seeking volunteers to help plan the guest activities at AAE17 and other future endeavors. To learn more, email slwzucker@gmail.com.

AAE members, forward this article to your spouse or partner (click on the envelope icon at the top of the page) and encourage them to get involved!