The Leadership of Delta Dental

Jim Dwyer , President and Chief Executive Officer                         
Brad Berg, Chief Operating and Financial Officer
Tom Gates, Vice President, Planning and Corporate Development
Eric Lo, Vice President, Underwriting and Actuarial
Kristin Merlo, Chief Marketing, Information, and Sales Officer
Laura Smith, President and CEO, Washington Dental Service Foundation
Cindy Snyder, Vice President, Innovative Services and Provider Relations
Karen Aliabadir, Chief Human Resources Strategist

View our Board of Directors

Jim   Jim Dwyer
  President and Chief Executive Officer

Jim Dwyer is president and chief executive officer of Delta Dental of Washington 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 Delta Dental, 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.

Brad Berg  Brad Berg
 Chief Operating and Financial  Officer

Brad Berg is chief operating and financial officer of Delta Dental of Washington. He is responsible for Delta Dental’s operations, finance, corporate development, internal auditing, compliance, contracts and program management.

Prior to joining Delta Dental, 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.

Tom Gates Tom Gates
 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 Delta Dental of Washington 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.

Eric  Eric Lo
 Vice President, Underwriting and Actuarial

Eric Lo is vice president of underwriting and actuarial for Delta Dental of Washington. 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 Delta Dental 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.

Kristin  Kristin Merlo
 Chief Marketing, Information, and Sales Officer

Kristin Merlo is chief marketing, information, and sales officer of Delta Dental of Washington. She is responsible for Delta Dental’s sales, client and broker management, marketing research and communications, public relations, corporate advertising, product management and development, and government relations.

Prior to joining Delta Dental, 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.

Smith Laura Smith
 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). Washington Dental Service 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 Washington Dental Service 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 Washington Dental Service 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.

Smith Cindy Snyder
 Vice President, Innovative Services and Provider Relations

Cindy Snyder is the vice president of innovative services and provider relations at Delta Dental of Washington where she has served in a leadership capacity for more than 13 years. She is responsible for dental network management, utilization management, corporate innovation and process improvement programs.

Cindy previously held roles at Delta Dental include Director of Professional Services, Director of Operations, and the Training and Quality Assurance Manager. Prior to Delta Dental, Cindy was a full-time faculty member at Clover Park Technical College where she taught Dental Office Management.

Cindy holds an Executive Masters of Business Administration in Executive Leadership from Seattle University.

Cindy is also President of the Seattle University Center for Leadership Formation alumni counsel.


Karen  Karen Aliabadi
  Chief Human Resources Strategist

Karen Aliabadi is the Chief Human Resources Strategist at Delta Dental of Washington. As an expert in organizational strategy, Karen leads collaborative enterprise initiatives to shape the workforce to meet business priorities.

Karen is a Human Resources executive who is passionate about providing companies with the perfect balance of human capital expertise and business acumen. She joined Delta Dental in 2015 after working in Human Resources for many industry-respected companies, including Fisher Communications and the Federal Home Loan Bank of Seattle. With over 20 years of industry experience and strategic insight, she has a solid understanding of people dynamics and builds strong talent management capabilities. Directly prior to starting at DDWA, Karen was the President and owner of the consulting firm, Passio, where she helped clients make sustainable performance improvements through culture.

Karen is a certified Senior Professional in Human Resources from the HR Certification Institute. Karen holds a Bachelor’s of Science in Training and Development and a Bachelor’s of Arts in Education from Southern Illinois University. She also completed the Master of Sustainable Business Practices program at Green Mountain College, attaining her MBA while serving as the Vice President of Corporate HR at Fisher Communications.

Questions? Call Delta Dental Customer Service at (800) 554-1907 between the hours of 7:00 am and 5:00 pm PT.