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Feeney Invocation HOD 2024

House of Delegates Speech:  "Make It Matter"

Jun 20, 2024 by John Feeney DDS
This Invocation was presented at the NJDA House of Delegates Meeting on June 5, 2024.

Good morning everyone WELCOME as we gather to celebrate the prestige of organizational dentistry that is the NEW JERSEY DENTAL ASSOCIATION where shared knowledge and collaborative learning create cumulative wisdom all of which benefit the profession to better serve the citizens of the garden state.

I’m from the Monmouth Ocean County Dental Society where the President, Vice President, Treasurer, Secretary, ADA Delegate, NJDA Trustee and eleven past Presidents are female!

The soon to be NJDA Immediate Past President Dr Arace, the soon to be NJDA  President  Dr Velasquez, the NJDA Chief Executive Officer Ms Reva Brennen, the Dean of Rutgers University School of Dental Medicine Dr Feldman, the Dean of Columbia University College of Dental Medicine Dr Graham and in the western reaches of Chicago the ADA President Dr Edgar are all female!

Could it be  said that I’m surrounded by beautiful intellect ?

I say I’m a lucky Irishman to know them as ladies of the profession!

Some fun facts to share with you if I may:

1] 33% of all the  practicing dentists in the US are female! This number has doubled in the last 15 years to 60,000.

2] Of all the  practicing dentists in the US that are 39 years of age  or younger 51% are female!

They have proven through focus, resilience, professionalism, ethical virtues ,dedication, competence and volunteerism through leadership  that gender is of no concern  in the pursuit of excellence within our profession and patient care.

Dr Elisa J. Velasquez was born in Jersey City . The youngest of four children having two USMC brothers and a sister in law enforcement with the Jersey City police department. She resides in Rumson and practices Pediatric Dentistry with offices in Toms River , Manahawkin and Cream Ridge. Her hospital affiliations are with Community Medical Center, Toms River and Monmouth Medical Center, Long Branch.

Dr. Velasquez is a graduate of Drew University, UMDNJ now Rutgers University School of Dental Medicine and it’s  Pediatric Dental program receiving a DMD MS. She is a diplomate of the American Academy of Pediatric Dentistry, Past President  of MOCDS and NJAPD. She currently serves as President founder of the NJ Hispanic Dental Association and is  Vice President of the NJ Dental Life Line Network. Her time and activity within  NJDA are  well established  contributions given to support  many administrative roles.

She has received multiple special acknowledgements  for achievements from professional associations, societies and public service organizations. Dr Velasquez has authored many published articles and presented multiple lectures pertaining to her specialty.

The aforementioned is documentation enough to assert that altruistic service is the core of Elisa’s being as she additionally over 33 years cares for while empathetically cares about  thousands of children, many of whom are special needs patients whose needs are special.

I’ve known Dr Velasquez personally and professionally for three decades. It has been an exalted privilege to serve with her in many varied capacities in professional organizations and community services.

Her expertise ,perspectives and dedication are extraordinary gifts of priceless value for the greater good of dentistry serving society .It is uplifting for me personally to appreciate people of GENUINE GOOD WILL who donate their time and effort for others. Her qualities have left an indelible professional eminence within me that continues to guide  my role at the New Jersey State Board of Dentistry.

We as health care providers are all imperfect beings striving for unreachable perfection. It  does not mean we can’t achieve excellence .

This is why I must salute all of you here today as NJDA leaders .By your very presence I know you commit your lives to the noble struggle of being excellent which is guided by the moral compass of ethical selfless service to advocate for the health ,safety and well being of 9.27 million New Jerseyans. 

Mark Twain said it best “The two most important days in a persons life is the day they were born and the day they realized why”.

The greatness of our profession is not in the accumulation of wealth, nor a high level of intellect, socioeconomic status, fame or power over others.

The greatness is within  the spirit of being FOR OTHERS. To not only heal them but to be the ultimate proponent for their welfare through servitude leadership.

Dr Elisa Velasquez within  NJDA leadership have  realized this and have  dedicated themselves to serve in order to: 


This aphorism MAKE IT MATTER validates an emotional intelligence of knowing who you are,  what you are capable of and where you are going  in order to establish your own blueprint of a life well spent for others. We  not only ameliorate society’s unique health maladies but are  leaders  of consequence within our profession, by definition those who affirm that anything is possible when you define yourself by WHO  you are innately rather than what you do for a livelihood 




The heart of a brave warrior

The courage of a vigilant navigator

The faith of a hopeful immigrant

The soul of a dedicated servant

As Friedrich Nietzsche, MOCDS’s favorite existential philosopher, writes:     



My esteemed colleagues of NJDA I ask to call your attention to  the fact that Dr Velasquez has been entrusted by you with the governance of our association for the next  2024 -2025 Presidential administrative year.

She has proclaimed  by example her intention to exert her very best personal efforts to have NJDA continue its legacy of excellence. It must now be realized the only way she can successfully carry on is for her to receive the fullest support of every component society and individual member.

Elisa is fully aware to lead is to understand the hopes and concerns of those she represents. Her words and actions give people a reason to believe so  as to achieve over challenges. Fundamentally , a blend of character and strategy in action to inspire others to do more and become better through self motivation.

NJDA Leaders are not born nor is leadership a natural gift. It’s a combination of dedicated commitment and a purposeful progression of development through perseverance  dedicated to personal excellence no matter what your chosen field of endeavor.

It’s because of these individual  principles and professional virtues that I wish to praise Dr Velasquez en Espanol:



She has and will accomplish tasks through the extraordinary energy of heavy lifting while adhering to her individual integrity by doing more than expected with professionalism, humanism ,visionary decisiveness and kind composure all of which inspire a confidence of accountability.

Dr Velasquez by your beneficence for others you are living a life larger than your own. You now have the rare tranquility that comes from knowing you have and will have a role in creating something with intrinsic excellence that makes a contribution to the betterment of service for our state’s populace. Most significant  is the satisfaction of knowing your time is well spent and that you


In closing, as we return to our respective communities and varied responsibilities, let us all  as NJDA leaders 


Because it’s never wrong to do the right thing by doing things right for the right reason at the right time with the right knowledge for those we serve, our patients.

Be Safe

Stay Strong

Keep Healthy

Share the smile God and your dentist gave  you to radiate kindness.

Thank you

John Feeney DDS

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