Prof. Christopher Okunseri BDS, MSc, MLS, DDPHRCSE, FFDRCSI

My dear colleagues and members of the Association of Nigerian Physicians in the Americas, it is my honor and privilege to welcome you to our first-ever virtual general assembly.

I am humbled by the opportunity to serve as your president and I thank you for the confidence you have reposed in me. I assure you that this is not a responsibility I take lightly, and by the grace of God, I will do all that is within my power to ensure that our beloved organization attains even greater heights under my leadership. Today, I stand on the shoulders of our founding members and past presidents who have worked selflessly to begin and continue our organization’s vision of promoting a “Healthier Nigeria in a Healthier World”. We are grateful for this organization, founded 26 years ago by a few like-minded individuals who put their energy, resources, passion, and commitment into what has now become a thriving, flourishing ANPA.

I must emphasize without any equivocation that I intend for my executive team under my leadership, to leverage the experience of our past leaders and the innovative spirit of our new and younger membership, to define and execute a roadmap for our future transformation. A transformation that is necessary, one that is timely, one whose moment has come. A moment that we now must seize.

For the benefit of our many new members, I am Dr. Christopher Okunseri, a Professor in Dental Public Health (with tenure) at Marquette University School of Dentistry. I am board certified in Dental Public Health and my areas of focus are teaching, research, and general practice dentistry. I would like to congratulate you all on your decision to join the ANPA family. Here, we strive to harness our collective strengths, talents, and resources to provide much-needed initiatives in Nigeria, while exchanging fellowship and building lasting relationships. We are excited to have you among us and it is my hope that you will feel at home in ANPA. I look forward to meeting every one of you personally in the not-too-distant future.

This is a crucial time in America’s history, as evidenced by the events of the past several weeks. We in ANPA stand against all forms of social injustice, racism, and tribalism, and under my leadership, ANPA will work to support real and lasting change in tangible ways. As medical and dental professionals, many of us have broken numerous barriers to getting to where we are today. The time has come for us to aspire towards even higher ground, individually and collectively. As an organization and as individuals we must hold ourselves to a higher standard of behavior, which oftentimes is not merely the “Nigerian Standard” or the “Western Standard” but the basic standard of behavior – the Human Standard.

Although COVID-19 is responsible for how we are conducting our meeting today, be assured that with challenges come the opportunity to excel. Therefore, we must seize the moment to re-evaluate how we do things and make changes not just for the sake of change, but as and when necessary. Thus, we will prepare our great organization for the future by strengthening our base.

While we are all one family, we must begin to acknowledge that we are an organization that must now transcend family squabbles. It is time for us to emerge as a high performing organization that embraces its position and relevance as the leading Nigerian diaspora medical organization in the world. Let us unite and banish all forms of skepticism or doubt; we have the foundational platform and for 26 years we have kept it going. We have the capacity to define and extend our value for relevance for the next quarter of a century. This is our moment; this is our time. And working together we will seize it. We must plan to be successful, more so now, than we ever have been in the past.

Now is the time for us to band together in our SHARED VISION to realize our MISSION through COLLABORATION. Thus, the theme of my presidency is “A SHARED VISION THROUGH COLLABORATION”.

Our first task will be to develop and implement ANPA’s Strategic Plan, which will communicate clear goals, metrics, and initiatives with members and key stakeholders. The strategy will include reviewing, assessing, and updating our By-laws, policies, activities, and processes, continuing to invest in successful programs that support ANPA’s mission, identifying opportunities for innovation within ANPA, and broadening member participation and visibility in ANPA activities. In addition, we will continue to recruit and retain new members while re-energizing existing members. We will promote avenues for networking amongst members, develop self-improvement and enrichment opportunities, create mentorship programs within and outside ANPA, and support early-career physicians and dentists in ANPA. Furthermore, we will leverage ANPA’s expertise and capabilities in seeking funding from organizations that support ANPA’s vision and mission, develop long-term corporate, professional, and academic partnerships and sponsorships and implement processes that facilitate ANPA’s project development and collaborations. Our second task is tactical, it will allow the Exco to deliver on the strategy of the Board of Directors, COLLABORATE with local, national and international organizations to develop ANPA competencies and promote ANPA’s brand, STRENGTHEN the capacity of our organization in program and policy activities in Nigeria and America and Foster TEAM SPIRIT by building on individual strengths and local chapter memberships.

Finally, my friends and colleagues, today is a new day in ANPA. We have just had a vibrant election process. Thanks to all the candidates for their hard work and determination. It is time to once again, make ANPA a place of succor; a place of collegiality; a place where we come to recharge and rest and relax. Where we grow, have fun, support one another, and help our country. A place where views, opinions, and perspectives are aired in a spirit of mutual respect and tolerance. A place of peace, joy, and happiness; a place that we will be proud to call our own.

THANK YOU!

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