Phil Wenk to Retire as CEO of Delta Dental of Tennessee and become President of the Company’s Charitable Foundation; Jeff Ballard Named Successor
After more than 20 years, Dr. Phil Wenk will retire as Chief Executive Officer (CEO) on December 31, 2023. Current President and CFO of Delta Dental, Jeff Ballard, will succeed Wenk and become President and CEO.
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – (August 29, 2023) – Delta Dental of Tennessee (Delta Dental) today announced that Dr. Phil Wenk will retire as chief executive officer (CEO) on December 31, 2023. Jeff Ballard, CPA, current president and CFO of Delta Dental, will succeed Wenk and become president and CEO effective January 1, 2024.
Dr. Wenk joined Delta Dental in 1997 after practicing dentistry for 20 years and has led the company as President and CEO since 2000. Delta Dental’s board of directors developed a strategic leadership transition plan several years ago in preparation for his retirement. As part of that plan, Ballard, the company’s CFO since 2015, was elevated to the role of president in 2022, expanding his internal oversight of the company.
“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 native of Middle Tennessee and has worked in the region his entire career, serving as CFO of the Franklin-based e-commerce company Magazines.com for a decade prior to joining Delta Dental’s leadership team. Ballard serves on the Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) Accounting Advisory Board; the boards of directors of the Pinson Hospital Hospitality House, Music City Bowl, and the Governor’s Early Literacy Foundation; and is a member of the Tennessee Business Roundtable and Rotary Club of Nashville. He has been recognized for his leadership by 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. 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. 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 University of Tennessee Health Science Center (UTHSC) College of Dentistry, Dr. Wenk has supported his alma maters through fundraising campaigns and the recent chancellor search. He has served as the chair of the UTHSC Advisory Board since it began in 2019 and is the immediate past chair of the UT Foundation Board of Directors. Dr. Wenk received an Outstanding Alumnus Award from the UTHSC College of Dentistry Alumni Association in 2016 and was selected from more than 370,000 alumni as one of the University of Tennessee’s “Top 100 Distinguished Alumni” by the University of Tennessee System’s alumni magazine.
Following his retirement as CEO, Dr. Wenk will become president of the company’s charitable arm, the Smile180 Foundation. Since its inception in 2015, the Smile180 Foundation and Delta Dental of Tennessee have reinvested more than $30 million in the community by supporting charitably run dental clinics, children’s hospitals, and oral health education, including Tennessee’s dental schools.
For more information about Delta Dental of Tennessee, please visit DeltaDentalTN.com.
Delta Dental of Tennessee
Delta Dental of Tennessee is the state’s largest independent dental benefits carrier with 1.4 million lives covered. As part of the Delta Dental Plans Association, Delta Dental of Tennessee members have access to the largest dental network in the nation with more than 154,000 providers serving more than 443,000 locations. With the simple mission of ensuring healthy smiles, Delta Dental of Tennessee works hard to help members of the communities it serves. Along with its corporate foundation, Smile180, Delta Dental of Tennessee donated more than $5.4 million in funding and in-kind services to over 110 organizations in 2022.