Jim Dwyer , President and Chief Executive Officer
Brad Berg, Chief Operating and Financial Officer
Tom Gates, Vice President, Planning and Corporate Development
Dr. Ron Inge, Vice President, Dental Director
Eric Lo, Vice President, Underwriting and Actuarial
Kristin Merlo, Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Chief Marketing Officer
Laura Smith, President and CEO, Washington Dental Service Foundation
CJ Venkataraman, Chief Information Officer
Susan Webber, Chief Human Resources Officer
View our Board of Directors
President and Chief Executive Officer
Jim Dwyer is president and chief executive officer of Delta Dental/Washington Dental Service (DD/WDS) and serves on the board of the Delta Dental Plans Association (DDPA), a national association of member plans from the 50 states and Puerto Rico. DDPA members provide more than $14 billion in dental care services per year to more than 51 million people. Jim also serves on the board and is vice chair of DeltaUSA, which oversees policy and marketing issues for DDPA’s national products and plans and is chairman of Healthentic, Inc, a consortium of Delta plans that’s developing a disease management analytics product.
Prior to joining DD/WDS, Jim was the chief executive of the Port of Seattle. He was responsible for domestic and international lines of business, more than 1,000 employees, assets of more than $1 billion, and annual budgets of $250 million. He has a strong background in operations, risk and investment, sales and marketing, strategic planning and public affairs. His experience also includes serving as president and CEO of a $30 million wholesale distribution company operating in six states. Prior to that Jim was a partner and director of international commercial law for a leading Pacific Northwest law firm.
Jim has served on the board of trustees at Seattle University and chaired the university’s board of regents. He has also served on the board of the Center for Leadership Formation (CLF) at Seattle University and has recently been named a Fellow of the CLF. Jim has been recognized with numerous civic awards, including International Business Person of the Year by the Greater Seattle Chamber of Commerce and the Distinguished Public Service Award by Seattle University. He was also a member of the board of directors of the 1990 Goodwill Games Organizing Committee and also served on the board of trustees of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center.
Jim graduated from Seattle University, with a bachelor’s degree in marketing and earned his law degree from the University of San Diego School of Law in 1972. He attended the Harvard Graduate School of Business Program for Management Development in 1979.
Chief Operating and Financial Officer
Brad Berg is chief operating and financial officer of DD/WDS. He is responsible for DD/WDS’s operations, finance, corporate development, internal auditing, compliance, contracts and program management.
Prior to joining DD/WDS, Brad spent three years as a principal at Bader Martin, P.S., a leading Seattle-based CPA and business advisory firm. Prior to Bader Martin, he served as the chief financial officer at Electronic Evidence Discovery. With over 30 years of experience with both large and small public and private companies, Brad has extensive knowledge of complex equity and debt transactions, initial public offerings, mergers and acquisitions, strategic sales and internal reorganizations. His career began at Coopers & Lybrand, what is now PricewaterhouseCoopers, where he spent 10 years and was an audit partner before joining Burlington Resources, where he was the chief accounting officer, vice president and controller. Brad has also held the chief financial officer position at AdmitOne Security, Pet’s Choice, Loudeye Corp, Redhook Ale Brewery and Holly Residential Properties.
Brad is a licensed CPA and holds a bachelor’s in accounting from the University of Northern Iowa. He has also completed the corporate financial management program at Harvard Business School and the Program on Negotiation for senior executives at Harvard Law School. He serves on volunteer boards for Junior Achievement of Washington and Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary, and is a past president of the board of Childhaven.
Vice President, Planning and Corporate Development
Tom Gates is responsible for leading the annual and on-going strategic planning efforts, as well as supporting growth strategies through developing new business ventures and external business alliances.
He joined DD/WDS in 2001, following 10 years in management consulting, where he led a wide variety of strategy, finance and operations consulting projects for more than a dozen major health systems across the country. Tom was recently named a member of Washington State Health Care Authority’s Dental Technical Advisory Committee, providing industry expertise and advice on formation of the state Health Benefit Exchange.
Tom earned his bachelor’s in economics from Pomona College and master’s of business administration from the University of Washington.
Dr. Ron Inge
Vice President, Dental Director
Dr. Ron Inge, dental director and vice president of provider relations for DD/WDS, brings a broad base of knowledge and experience in the dental industry. His multifunctional capabilities include network development and contracting and provider relations, as well as clinical policy. He has a comprehensive dental business background, having directly led or collaborated in business decisions ranging from clinical to sales and underwriting. Dr. Inge is a nationally known and well-respected speaker.
Before joining DD/WDS, Dr. Inge was the associate executive director of the Division of Dental Practice at the American Dental Association (ADA). He provided strategic leadership in policy development and implementation that included practice management, dental benefit programs, access-to-care issues and disease prevention.
Prior to joining the ADA, Dr. Inge was Aetna Dental’s chief dental officer, overseeing Aetna’s dental clinical quality and utilization management programs. He was instrumental in conveying the value of medical/dental integration and driving initial validation studies related to the integration concept.
Dr. Inge previously worked at PMI (the managed dental care division of Delta Dental of California) where he was vice president of professional services and PMI’s chief dental officer. He was formerly with DentiCare of California, serving as its senior vice president of provider relations.
Dr. Inge has 15 years of private practice experience. He received a bachelor’s degree in human biology from Stanford University and his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of California at Los Angeles.
Vice President, Underwriting and Actuarial
Eric Lo is vice president of underwriting and actuarial for DD/WDS. He directs the actuarial and underwriting functions, which include pricing of dental products and projection of revenues and claim liabilities, as well as oversight of corporate financial risk.
Before joining DD/WDS in 2008, Eric spent five years in various actuarial roles with Trustmark Life Insurance Company, a mid-sized health and life insurer based in Lake Forest, Illinois. His career began at Lucent Technologies, what is now Alcatel-Lucent, as a wireless network engineer involved in the deployment and integration of wireless communications systems in the international market.
Eric, an associate of the Society of Actuaries and member of the American Academy of Actuaries, holds a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a minor in mathematics.
Vice President, Sales and Marketing, Chief Marketing Officer
Kristin Merlo is vice president, sales and marketing, and chief marketing officer of DD/WDS. She is responsible for DD/WDS’s sales, client and broker management, marketing research and communications, public relations, corporate advertising, product management and development, and government relations.
Prior to joining DD/WDS, Kristin held a variety of sales and marketing management positions with Eli Lilly and Company. As brand manager she led the first consumer advertising program for Lilly’s blockbuster drug, Prozac®. She also managed the global market development for Lilly’s first insulin analog.
Kristin earned her bachelor’s degree in history from the University of Virginia and her master’s in business administration from the Darden Graduate School of Business Administration at the University of Virginia. She completed a certificate in executive leadership at Seattle University. Kristin is active in education reform efforts and serves as vice chair of Seattle Girls’ School.
President and CEO
Washington Dental Service Foundation
Laura Smith is president and CEO of Washington Dental Service Foundation, overseeing the seventh largest corporate philanthropic organization in Washington (2008 Puget Sound Business Journal). WDS Foundation leads collaborative initiatives to improve oral health through high-impact policy and systems change in our state.
Laura was promoted from deputy director of WDS Foundation bringing a commitment to improving the health of children and their families and a solid background in planning, execution, evaluation and financial management.
Prior to joining WDS Foundation, Laura served as a major gift director at Children’s Hospital Foundation from 1992-2001. At Children’s, she worked with members of the hospital and foundation boards to lead campaigns to reach fundraising goals and with department directors, researchers and others to design successful projects.
Laura has also served as grants and contracts manager for the Seattle Department of Parks and Recreation, budget analyst for the City of Seattle’s Office of Management and Budget, program analyst with the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS), caseworker with DSHS and researcher with the Bureau of Applied Social Research at Columbia University.
Laura has a bachelor’s in sociology from Washington State University and a master’s in public affairs from the University of Washington.
Chief Information Officer
CJ Venkataraman is the chief information officer at DD/WDS. In his role as CIO he oversees all aspects of DD/WDS's information services functions, including enterprise applications development, enterprise infrastructure and information risk management. Prior to joining DD/WDS, CJ spent six years at Intellectual Ventures as their CIO. During this time, CJ built and managed a global technology team across eight countries. He was responsible for guiding the organization and delivering innovative technology solutions to support the business of intellectual property development, acquisition and licensing.
Before joining Intellectual Ventures, CJ was the director of technology architecture and development at Corbis Corporation. During his tenure at Corbis he played an instrumental role in transforming the company from an analog media reseller to a global digital media licensing company through business process changes, technology architecture, engineering and research and development efforts. With more than 19 years of experience in the technology industry, CJ has a strong background in strategic technology planning, enterprise architecture and development, data analytics and data mining. He’s also worked as a software consultant building products like Outlook, enterprise data warehouses, workflow management solutions, and legal billing systems.
CJ holds a master’s of business administration in technology management, master’s of science in statistics and an advanced diploma in software engineering. In his free time he serves as a board member for Jobs for American Graduates at Washington State, the nation’s leading drop-out prevention program, and the University of Washington Information School. CJ’s a volunteer coach for U8-10 youth soccer and basketball teams and speaks at local CIO and IT community events. He resides in the Puget Sound area with his wife and two children.
Chief Human Resources Officer
Susan Webber joined DD/WDS in 2011 as vice president of human resources. She’s responsible for building and developing a fully-engaged employee team aligned with DD/WDS’s mission and values.
Prior to joining DD/WDS, Susan ran her own executive coaching and human resources consulting company. She’s also served as vice president of human resources for Concur Technologies, where she led the global HR function for approximately five years, a period in which Concur’s market cap increased by a factor of seven to over a billion dollars. At Concur she led initiatives to create Concur’s high-performance culture. Additional experience also includes vice president of human resources at VoteHere, and vice president of human resources, quality, technical support and customer service at Data I/O Corporation, as well as director level positions at a division of AT&T.
Susan has her Senior Professional Human Resources Certificate, her Certified Compensation Professional Certificate, and her Certificate in Coaching from the International Coaching Federation. She formerly served on the board of directors at Friends of Youth.
Susan earned her PhD in psychology with an emphasis in organizational development from the University of Oklahoma.