All change at ADAWA

Posted on 1st November 2019

After two years in the top job, it’s time for ADAWA’s first female president, Dr Jenny Ball, to pass the baton on. Brooke Evans-Butler caught up with Jenny and incoming president, Dr Sean Archibald, to discuss ADAWA’s past, present and future.

ADAWA has seen many changes over the last two years – much of which can be attributed to Dr Jenny Ball, who has presided over the organisation with her signature straight talking and vibrant personality (and clothing!).

When asked how she first came to be on the executive team, she laughs and says she was tortured until she said yes. “You get a nudge to come on executive and then usually work your way through; starting off as treasurer, then vice president, then president,” she explains.

“I found it such an honour to be president,” Jenny adds. “As the first female president, it was a great opportunity for me to represent the profession.”

Jenny’s two-year presidency has been highlighted by the renovations of ADA House – although she assures us this was a collaborative effort across the executive team.

“Every project, including the renovations and the website, has seen everyone working together,” Jenny says, although she laughs that she was outvoted when it came to the yellow carpet tiles that she coveted for the lecture theatre.

“No one comes in as president with a grand plan. You are part of things that are going on,” she adds. “We all work as a team. There is no job description for the president – you make the role as big or small as you want to.”

While the highlight of her presidency has been the opportunity to meet so many members, her greatest challenge has, without doubt, been writing the president’s report for the Western Articulator.

“Don’t do it,” Jenny says, turning to Sean with a smile. “Get someone else to.”

Sean and Jenny


As self-effacing as she may, Jenny’s president reports have set new ground at the ADAWA, as she wrote about personal issues such as missing teeth and melanoma removal.

“I had to find something to write about,” she laughs. “I wanted to make it interesting and I wanted to make people think: ‘That was pretty good; I might read it next month.’

“I tried to be more personal, more social and write something that people could relate to. The members have always been very supportive when I have shared anything personal.”

Having set the benchmark high, Sean is understandably nervous about writing future reports. “I’m not overly creative and what we do with executive probably isn’t really exciting from an outsider’s view. I’ll have to ask Jenny for some advice.”

Although her presidency may be ending, it’s unlikely Jenny will have much spare time to read more of her beloved murder mysteries.

“I have a lot of fingers in a lot of pies and some of those pies have become much bigger,” she says. “I will be the International College of Dentistry WA representative as of next year, I’m on the 2021 congress organising committee and there is sure to be one or two other things. I have been doing more tutoring at the Dental School this year, and I am still doing my WA Dental CPD.

“I wish Sean the best and my hope is that ADAWA keeps moving forward, always,” she says. “I’d like to see us engage our younger members more and to have more networking and social events under the ADA umbrella.”

Dr Kang Kim and Dr Sean Archibald


As the current vice president, Sean is already a familiar face around ADA House and associated events. He is keen to see what eventuates during his presidency, although he laughs that past president Dr Kang Kim is entirely to blame for roping him into the role – as he has done to Kang many times previously.

“We try to put each other into as many different roles as we can,” he laughs.

At 32 years old, Sean isn’t the youngest ADAWA president (Kang just pipped him). “There’s nothing wrong with having an older voice, but I think having a younger voice sometimes brings a different perspective to things,” he says. “We have a pretty good balance at the moment on executive with people of a range of ages.”

When asked about his presidential hopes and plans, he points out, like Jenny, that ADAWA is very much about teamwork and collaboration.

“Our branch has been fortunate to have had amazing presidents throughout my years as a dentist, and therefore I don’t think there is a big need to ‘shake things up’. More likely, my approach is to leave the branch in the same or hopefully a slightly better condition than when I started,” he says.

Sean’s priority, he says, is to keep the “ADAWA family feel” going. “If I do nothing else other than making sure that survives, then I’ll be happy.”

Certainly, it is clear the executive team has been like a family, with Sean saying there is an ongoing joke that Jenny and CEO Dr David Hallett are his and Kang’s parents. The joke began after Dr Claire Bailey’s wedding, when David commented that “the kids scrubbed pretty well”. “After that, it was always mum, dad and the kids, because age-wise it is quite possible,” Jenny laughs.

Although executive meetings are held every fortnight, communication amongst the group is constant. “We never wait the full two weeks to check in,” Sean says.

Of course, it’s not just the president who is changing; the entire executive team will be shaken up. “It will be a big change with the new executive, after we have had the same group for three years, but I am sure the change will be good,” Sean says. “Everyone comes from a different angle and a different perspective.”