Debbie Torbush takes the helm as new Alliance president
Stone Mountain, Ga.—When the Alliance of the Georgia Dental Association asked Debbie Torbush to plan a holiday party 10 years ago, she started down a path that would lead to her installation as national president Wednesday at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas.
“I was a ‘checkbook’ member for over 10 years before becoming actively involved,” said Mrs. Torbush. “Often when family, career, church and other volunteer commitments occupy your life, you just have to wait for the right time to become active in an organization. That is what happened with me and the Alliance.”
Recently retired after working as a DeKalb County, Ga., school psychologist for 30 years, Mrs. Torbush was an active officer or board member for the county Junior League, a local shelter for battered refugee and immigrant women and their children, the local rape crisis center, the Georgia Association of School Psychologists, the county public library and library foundation and many more organizations.
In the decade she was a “checkbook” Alliance member, Mrs. Torbush said, “I was reluctant to attend functions because I really didn’t know anyone. However, after becoming involved with just minor participation such as planning the holiday party, packaging dental kits and joining my husband when visiting legislators, I developed many friendships. I now always know someone at whatever dental event we might attend, whether it is an Alliance member or a dentist. It might have nothing to do with dentistry where I might meet a dental spouse, such as tailgating at a college football game or helping with rush at my daughter’s sorority. This feeling isn’t just something I alone have experienced—I hear it from other members all the time. I also seem to meet other dental spouses when traveling who aren’t Alliance members. I can relate to their reluctance to join and encourage them to join me as a member.”
One of Mrs. Torbush’s favorite Alliance activities is working with student spouses from Georgia Health Sciences University College of Dental Medicine.
“GHSU has the first male student spouse president, and he has been able to recruit other men into the organization,” she said. “Since approximately half of current dental students are women, we need to continue to encourage male spouses to join and participate in the Alliance.”
The Georgia Alliance helps encourage student spouses of both genders to join, she added, by hosting an annual dinner party at the home of GHSU dental school dean Dr. Connie Drisko and her husband Dr. Richard Drisko.
Mrs. Torbush met her husband, Dr. Doug Torbush, when he was a first-year chemistry and physics teacher at the high school where she did her student teaching.
“Teaching was definitely not for me, but I met a great guy as a result,” she said. “Doug taught for nine years at a high school and community college before starting dental school. Doug practices general dentistry in Conyers, Ga. We have a 29-year-old son, Ryan, who attended Mercer University and lives and works in Macon. Our daughter Katherine, 23, graduated from Mississippi State University last year and is working for a local dentist and his physician wife, while searching for a position in marketing and management.”
Mrs. Torbush received her undergraduate degree in psychology at Emory University in Atlanta and two graduate degrees in school psychology from Georgia State University. Since retiring, she has found some time to enjoy her hobbies—travel and tennis. She plays on four teams in the Atlanta Lawn Tennis Association and on a U.S. Tennis Association women’s team.
For the Alliance of the ADA, she has served as District 3 trustee, vice president and president-elect. For the state Alliance, she has served as vice president for membership, president-elect and president, as well as GHSU dental school student spouse liaison.
“During the coming year, I am hopeful that our new tagline, ‘The Dental Community Belongs Here,’ rings true for everyone connected with dentistry,” she said. “The Alliance will continue to work on increasing our membership, including the development of student spouse groups at more dental schools, and determining how we can get our male members more involved.
“I am fortunate that our state Alliance has a positive relationship with the Georgia Dental Association staff, leadership and members, which allows us to help each other. I would like to see that type of relationship occur in every state.
“For example, Georgia Alliance members and dentists jointly package and deliver over 800 dental kits annually to our state legislators and their staff members, visit the Georgia and U.S. Capitol to talk to our legislators, participate in Give Kids A Smile activities and Mission of Mercy programs, and the list goes on and on,” she added. “Because our Georgia Alliance dues are on the dentist’s statement, we have a large Alliance membership. Alliance Political Action Committee dues are also on the dentist’s statement, so approximately 97 percent of Alliance members in Georgia pay PAC dues. I also hope to continue to improve our relationship with the ADA, and our participation on ADA councils. I am a believer in working hard, but having fun as you do it. I am hoping that during this coming year we can do both.”
Mrs. Torbush said it doesn’t matter whether a spouse is an active member or a checkbook member, as long as they support their spouse’s profession by joining the Alliance.
“Alliance members can promote dental health education in schools and the community, talk to their legislators, learn skills that can help the family dental practice and/or their personal life or just pay annual dues so others can continue these programs around the country.”
For more details on AADA activities, visit www.allianceada.org.