The following article appeared in The Cleveland Jewish News on August 23, 2017.
Dr. Steve Marsh will become the international president of Alpha Omega Dental Fraternity in 2018, marking the first person from the Cleveland chapter to lead the organization in 13 years. The fraternity has 105 chapters in the United States.
Marsh, who is a member of Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood, is a legacy member of the fraternity, as his father was also an Alpha Omega, member and a dentist for 50 years.
The Cleveland Jewish News interviewed him about Alpha Omega.
CJN: What does Alpha Omega work to accomplish?
Marsh: Our mission is hard, to sum up – we call ourselves a fraternity, but there are also many women within our ranks. (Alpha Omega) was founded in the early 1900s because, at that time, Jewish students weren’t allowed in dental schools because of quotas. It was created to fight discrimination – and this is our 110th anniversary. It’s a professional organization that does good things, as well as continuing education for our members. I call it sort of a Jewish dental community, and it’s all about engagement. One of the key things that we have is our symbol, which is a triangle with our values on the sides and Judaic values at the bottom. One side is professionalism and the other is fraternalism, which are both important.
We also have a project called the Holocaust survivor program, where we care for those individuals for little to no cost. My brother, who is a cardiologist, would come to our events and would say there is no other fraternity like this. We’ve become one big huge family throughout the world.
CJN: Why did you become involved?
Marsh: I’m a legacy AO member. My father, Sam Marsh, was a dentist for 50 years in Cleveland and he was also the local president of the Cleveland AO chapter. (Alpha Omega) was a huge part of his life. They’d have monthly meetings, share ideas and thoughts on how they take care of patients. He loved these friendships that he made and he could go anywhere in the world and see people he knew. It’s a great way to bring family and friends together. It was one more place in this world where we felt a sense of community.
In terms of me becoming president, we’ve had a number of leadership group seminars over the years. I’ve met the most outstanding people here. It’s meant a lot of me and one of the things my parents have always talked about was giving back to the community. It was one more place that I could give back, and I love the Jewish theme throughout. Part of it too was to show our kids that we’re living in a greater community. It combines the things I love most in my life – family, Judaism and dentistry.
This is a way for me to continue my dad’s legacy. I want to guarantee this group is around for many years to come.
CJN: What do you hope to do with your presidency?
Marsh: Like every nonprofit, finances are always something that is a big piece. Can we keep doing the things we want to do? We also want to continue to support our dental schools, The Hebrew University founded by Alpha Omega, and Hadassah School of Dental Medicine. They almost closed five years ago due to lack of funds and we created a letter writing campaign to save them.
Whether it’s a synagogue or art museum, you can’t do it on dues alone and do all of the things you want to accomplish. I want to get us on a firmer financial footing from an operating standpoint. One of the biggest thrusts I want to work on is keeping students involved and active. I don’t want to just talk about it. One of my promises is that I want to call every chapter president and let them know that the international fraternity is there for them. I want to facilitate the sharing of ideas.
Also, there are a lot of women members, and as a father of two daughters, I think it’s fantastic. But, I think women dentists feel a lot of challenges. Within Alpha Omega, I want to recognize what the women face and reach out to them. I want the women to connect with the students as well.
CJN: How do you think the presidency will change your life?
Marsh: In terms of my personal life, I will certainly travel quite a bit. We expect to visit chapters abroad like Paris, London, Tel Aviv and Jerusalem. I’ve already traveled to Atlanta, Los Angeles, Columbus and Chicago. We’re certainly going to travel quite a bit representing Alpha Omega. That’s quite the change for us. Everybody that I have talked to that has served as president, some said it was an honor, but others said it was a privilege. It carries my parent’s legacy and it gives me a chance to mentor.