Summary: The AAO House of Delegates meeting in New Orleans focused on launching a sustainability initiative, approving a $3 million tech transformation fund, and continuing the Faculty Teaching Fellowship Program with new funding structures.

Key Takeaways:

  • AAO initiated a sustainability and aligner recycling program.
  • $3 million allocated for AAO Tech Transformation.
  • Faculty Teaching Fellowship Program funding extended and restructured.

The 2024 AAO House of Delegates (HOD) convened on May 3 and May 6 in New Orleans, coinciding with the 2024 Annual Session. The meeting featured significant actions and initiatives aimed at enhancing orthodontic practices and member benefits.

Sustainability Initiative Launched

The HOD prioritized sustainability with a new initiative targeting waste reduction in orthodontic practices. The AAO Business Development Committee will investigate the feasibility of recycling aligners. If deemed viable, the AAO will establish a recycling program using a vetted recycling provider. This proposal, introduced by the Council on Orthodontic Practice (COOP), aims to offer a simple, cost-effective, and HIPAA-compliant recycling solution for plastic materials used by members.

$3 Million Allocated for Tech Transformation

In a move to modernize its infrastructure, the HOD approved a $3 million allocation to expand the Infrastructure and Technology Reserve Fund. This funding supports the AAO Tech Transformation, an extensive multi-year initiative to upgrade all AAO technologies. The goal is to significantly improve the ease, speed, and relevance of accessing information and resources, thereby enhancing operational efficiencies across the organization.

Membership Dues Unchanged for 2024-25

The AAO HOD set the full member dues for U.S. Active Members at $817 for the fiscal year 2024-25, maintaining the rate since 2022-23. Reduced dues will continue for members in their first four years post-residency, Canadian Active Members, and Active Academic Members. International Member dues are also adjusted based on geographic location.

Task Force to Explore Constituent Merger

A task force has been established to examine the proposed merger between the Southern Association of Orthodontists (SAO) and the Southwestern Society of Orthodontists (SWSO). Although the HOD passed a resolution in 2021 allowing the merger, formal recognition by the AAO is contingent upon over 50% of current constituents merging. The task force will address outstanding questions, including support for the merged entity, allocation of trustees, and assimilation under AAO bylaws.

Transition of Faculty Teaching Fellowship Program

The HOD approved the continuation of the AAO Full-time Faculty Teaching Fellowship (FFTF) Award Program, funding up to $540,000 for three, two-year fellowships in FY25, FY26, and FY27. Additionally, $1.8 million of AAO undesignated net assets will be reclassified as an AAOFFTFA Special Purpose/Program Support Fund. The AAO Foundation will lead a three-year fundraising campaign to match this amount. Upon successful completion, the combined funds will support the FFTF program, ensuring its ongoing success in retaining full-time orthodontic faculty.