Dr. Guter Takes on AGD Presidency

  • by Caitlin Davis
  • Dec 5, 2022
12-5-22_GuterWhen Hans P. Guter, DDS, FAGD, ran for AGD vice president in the fall of 2020, the organization was recovering from the spring and summer shutdowns at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, searching for an executive director and considering new dues models to better serve the membership. Guter was prepared to take on leadership of the organization during this time of change and help guide AGD to a more stable and competitive position. 

In his personal statement in AGD Impact, he said, “In order for growth to occur, we need to give our ‘grassroots’ members tangible reasons to not only belong to, but participate in, our organization. We also need to show our corporate donors that we are a sound, stable and growing organization in order for them to donate their dollars. Finally, we need to ramp up our advocacy efforts in order to once again show our members some tangible outcomes that will give them a reason to not only maintain their membership, but also to recruit other members.” Now, after two years of serving as vice president and president-elect, he is at the helm and ready to call the shots. But he won’t be starting fresh.

“The Executive Committee members, along with our new executive director, have had a great working relationship, and it makes continuing some of the initiatives that Immediate Past President Gerald J. Botko, DMD, MAGD, has been working on this past year much easier,” Guter said.

In the two years he has served on the presidential path, Guter has immersed himself in the leadership operations of AGD, cementing some of his goals for the organization and adapting others.

“One of the best things I have been able to do is travel to both regional and constituency meetings along with personally getting to know our volunteer leaders via the numerous Zoom meetings I attend,” he said. “One of the crucial things that we must do nationally is assist with securing executive directors for our regions and constituencies. The most successful regions have phenomenal executive directors, and I firmly believe that this is the variable contributing to their success.”

Guter joined AGD in 1991. His leadership involvement prior to his election as vice president involved serving the Ohio AGD as Membership Council chair for four years, Mastership chair for 12 years and president for two years. He also has served as an alternate delegate and delegate for his region since 1997. On a national level, he served two terms as regional director for Region 7 and later as a trustee. He has served on numerous councils and task forces, including the Leadership Development Symposium, PACE Council, Scientific Meeting Council and the Dental Student Task Force.

“My greatest achievement within AGD is obviously being entrusted by our members to serve as their president,” said Guter. “It has also been quite an honor to have served my constituency, Ohio, as its president and my region, Region 7, as both its regional director and trustee. Having said that, some of my fondest memories are of being able to bring my family to our scientific meetings and MasterTrack programs. My wife and children socialize with other families, and bringing them allows me to learn and network during the day and be with my family in the evenings. This familial aspect of our organization is something I hope to bring back as a focus.”

The plans Guter has for the organization during his time as president involve focusing on increasing the value of, and thereby growing, membership. “The biggest challenge we have in our organization is membership,” he said. “I will continue to evaluate how our new membership models, which include Premium and Premium Plus tiers, are performing. We must become relevant to all general dentists regardless of practice model.”

Part of growing membership and strengthening AGD’s relevancy among dentists involves focusing on new members, and new dentists are one of the best pools to tap into for that purpose. 

“We must ensure that all dental schools have student chapters with faculty who engage, educate and motivate our student members,” Guter said. “We should make clear what AGD’s benefits are and how members can become the best educated dentists. We should also make clear how important it is for them to get involved with organized dentistry to become our next generation of leaders. I want to ensure that our Membership Council and New Dentist Committee have the full support of leaders and staff to enact necessary initiatives and help growth on a constituency level.”

But growing the membership doesn’t do much unless every member has a reason to renew. “We have an array of wonderful benefits for our members. However, we must do better at educating and communicating with not just our members but also potential members about what those benefits are. Today, with a variety of age groups as members, we should be using all applicable avenues of communication to stay relevant with our members. Communication must become instantaneous, otherwise it’s old news.”

Guter also plans to leave his mark on AGD in other ways. “I plan to continue evaluating our organization in every sense, not just governance. Barack Obama once said, ‘Change will not come if we wait for some other person or some other time. We are the ones we’ve been waiting for. We are the change that we seek.’ Most importantly, we must become nimbler and more proactive when adapting this concept of change.”

But, above all, Guter hopes to be a great leader.

“AGD has had a huge impact on my career,” he said. “I have had several mentors throughout my career who were willing to share their successes and failures, both clinical and nonclinical. They all had one thing in common that, in my opinion, contributed not only to their success but also to their happiness: They were AGD members. I am forever indebted to them, and I hope to become a mentor to our next generation of AGD members.”

Guter took office during AGD’s annual House of Delegates meeting, Nov. 11–13, 2022, and will hold office until the next annual meeting, Nov. 10–12, 2023. 

Caitlin Davis is associate editor of AGD Impact. To comment on this article, email impact@agd.org.