Delta Dental of Tennessee (Delta Dental) has announced today that Dr. Phil Wenk will retire from his position as chief executive officer (CEO) on December 31, 2023. Jeff Ballard, CPA, who currently serves as the president and CFO of Delta Dental, will succeed Dr. Wenk and assume the roles of president and CEO, effective January 1, 2024.
Dr. Wenk became a part of Delta Dental in 1997 after practicing dentistry for 20 years. He has been at the helm of the company as President and CEO since 2000. In anticipation of his retirement, Delta Dental’s board of directors devised a strategic leadership transition plan several years ago. As a component of this plan, Ballard, who has held the position of CFO since 2015, was promoted to president in 2022. This advancement broadened his internal responsibilities within the company’s operations.
“Phil has been a transformational leader for this organization and built the company to amazing heights,” said Dr. Paul Bacon, chair of Delta Dental of Tennessee’s board of directors. “I’d like to thank both Phil and my fellow board members for their time and thoughtfulness as we prepared for this transition. Jeff has impressed us since he initially came on board as CFO, and that has only continued as he has taken on more responsibility in the last year. This will be a seamless transition, and the company is well positioned for continued growth with Jeff at the helm.”
Ballard is a Middle Tennessee native and has dedicated his entire career to the region. He served as the CFO of the Franklin-based e-commerce company Magazines.com for a decade before becoming a part of Delta Dental’s leadership team. Ballard holds positions on the Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) Accounting Advisory Board, as well as on the boards of directors of the Pinson Hospital Hospitality House, Music City Bowl, and the Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation. Additionally, he is a member of the Tennessee Business Roundtable and the Rotary Club of Nashville. Ballard’s leadership has earned him recognition from both the Nashville Business Journal and MTSU.
“Phil has been an incredible leader, colleague, and friend, and I have learned so much from him in these last few years,” said Ballard. “I am honored to take on the role of president and CEO and continue to build on his incredible successes. One of my first big projects at Delta Dental was shepherding the expansion of the business into vision insurance, and we are exploring a number of other exciting opportunities ahead.”
As CEO, Dr. Phil Wenk led the company through a period of unprecedented growth. Under his tenure, revenue grew from $58 million to $412 million last year. He will be inducted into Tennessee’s Health Care Hall of Fame later this year and has received numerous accolades for his leadership and service, including the Nashville Business Journal’s “Most Admired CEO” and “Health Care Hero” awards, the American Cancer Society’s St. George’s medal, Meharry Medical College’s “Circle of Friends” award, and Chairperson of the Year by St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in recognition to his leadership for several events through the years.
“It has been a tremendous honor to lead Delta Dental,” said Dr. Phil Wenk. “More than any business milestone, I’m proud of the exceptional team we have built and the impact we have been able to make in the community. The team has made me look good time and time again, and together, I hope we’ve shown that it is possible to run a successful business and be civic-minded and socially responsible. I have full confidence in Jeff and the entire team as they build on this momentum and look forward to watching their continued growth and success.”
A graduate of the University of Tennessee and the University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Dentistry, Dr. Wenk has shown his support for his alma maters through fundraising campaigns and participation in the recent chancellor search. He has held the position of chair of the UTHSC Advisory Board since its establishment in 2019 and previously served as the chair of the UT Foundation Board of Directors. In 2016, Dr. Wenk received the Outstanding Alumnus Award from the UTHSC College of Dentistry Alumni Association. Moreover, he was chosen as one of the University of Tennessee’s “Top 100 Distinguished Alumni,” a recognition bestowed by the University of Tennessee System’s alumni magazine, from a pool of over 370,000 alumni.
Upon retiring as CEO, Dr. Phil Wenk will assume the role of president for the company’s charitable arm, the Smile180 Foundation. Since its establishment in 2015, both the Smile180 Foundation and Delta Dental of Tennessee have reinvested over $30 million into the community. This support has been directed towards charitably operated dental clinics, children’s hospitals, and oral health education initiatives, including those associated with Tennessee’s dental schools.
For further details about Delta Dental of Tennessee, please visit DeltaDentalTN.com.
About Delta Dental of Tennessee
Delta Dental of Tennessee stands as the largest independent dental benefits carrier in the state, providing coverage for 1.4 million individuals. As a member of the Delta Dental Plans Association, Delta Dental of Tennessee offers its members access to the nation’s most expansive dental network, encompassing over 154,000 providers serving in excess of 443,000 locations.
Guided by its core mission to ensure healthy smiles, Delta Dental of Tennessee works diligently to support the communities it serves. Collaborating with its corporate foundation, Smile180, the organization contributed over $5.4 million in funding and in-kind services to more than 110 organizations throughout the year 2022.