Judee Tippett-Whyte, DDS, has begun her term as CDA’s president for 2021. Dr. Tippett-Whyte brings more than 30 years of experience in organized dentistry, held local and national leadership positions and serving on many CDA councils, committees and task forces.
After receiving her Bachelor of Science in dietetics, Tippett-Whyte graduated from the University of the Pacific, Arthur A. Dugoni School of Dentistry in 1986. She established her general practice in Stockton that same year.
In the video above, Tippett-Whyte joined immediate past president Richard Nagy, DDS, for a conversation about her vision, goals and major issues for her tenure. The full transcript follows.
Dr. Nagy: Hello, I'm Dr. Richard Nagy 2020 President of the California Dental Association. I'm here to joyfully welcome Dr. Judee Tippett-Whyte, CDA’s new president for 2021, and to hear a bit about what's on her mind as we head into the New Year. Hi Dr. Tippett-Whyte.
Dr. Tippett-Whyte: Hi Dr Nagy. Thanks for having me. It's an exciting year ahead for all of us.
Dr. Nagy: The last year has been something else. I'm sure I don't need to remind anyone what a roller coaster it’s been. Tell me you're thinking about right now in the first few days in your role as CDA president?
Dr. Tippett-Whyte: Oh my god, what have I gotten into? No, but it's been an exciting start to the year. We've had some really positive legislative news for us. As leaders we have the opportunity to break down barriers and find connections and build bridges, not islands, so that our members at large can help us further the mission of the organization.
Our mission is the North Star, and our members and our leaders are the fuel to reach it. And my role, I see it as the president, is to help inspire and support our leaders to achieve our goals.
I'm looking forward to building relationships based on trust with open and transparent communication and conversations. This is something our members really told us they want. They want dialogue and they want us to engage with them. I'm optimistic and a collaborative leader and I'll listen. And together, I think we can mutually find solutions to challenges that face our profession.
Dr. Nagy: Thank you. And I couldn't agree more with what you just said. I have a two-part question for you. Number one, what are some of the top issues dentists are facing this year? And number two, how have these issues shaped your goals for the year? Can you share a few with us?
Dr. Tippett-Whyte: Well, I think first and foremost the vaccine distribution and advocacy work that CDA is doing for our members is really going to be a priority. Just this week we had the guidance from the Department of Consumer Affairs. It's going to allow dentists to provide the vaccine. There's a lot of work to be done to get logistics in place and to take things off, but as the leaders of CDA and with our fabulous staff, we're going to be working really hard to help get our citizens and the dentists in our state vaccinated.
I think prioritizing the sustainability of our organization is really important to help serve all our members and our core values are going to be really important, and our member programs, to keep in the forefront of our mind as we make decisions.
Issues surrounding the pandemic continue. Maintaining our work groups to help support our members with their economic staffing issues and clinical care are going to be our focus.
We also need to be mindful of protecting MICRA and continue to support members in working with their dental benefit plans.
And lastly, being accessible. Bringing leadership, membership to the forefront communicating to members the critical stream of information that's happening every day.
Dr. Nagy: Thank you. Let me ask you a question. What led you to get involved with leadership at CDA?
Dr. Tippett-Whyte: I think some people naturally gravitate to leadership. I've kind of always been one of those people that's taken on leadership roles. But what really got me going was the very first day I started dental school. And, I got in the elevator at UOP at Art Dugoni walked in. And he greeted me by name. And he said, I have great expectations for your class.
And, kind of after I got over that shock, and—you know, I grunted out a “thank you,” and a “good morning—and then I realized how profound that statement was to me in terms of motivating me to become a leader. And of course, he was a mentor to all of us.
And that's really what started my path into leadership. I was involved in leadership at school, immediately after graduation, I got involved with our board at our local component level.
But the one thing that really got me involved in leadership was somebody asking me, and me saying, yes. And it's been a wonderful journey and one that I do not regret taking the time from my practice or from my family to be able to participate in our profession.
Dr. Nagy: Thank you so much. It's interesting, you know, when you say someone asked you, that's how I got involved in leadership at CDA. I figured as a specialist as a periodontist, I'd spend my career being involved in perio leadership, which is what I did, then someone in my local component asked me to go on the board. Hesitant at first, I said, I'm too busy with life, like so many—however, I said yes, went up the chairs, attended my first CDA House of Delegates, got more involved in what CDA does. And I said, oh my God, this is where I want to spend my time, never thinking I would ever be CDA president. But that's what sparked me into being part of CDA leadership and it couldn’t have been a greater decision that I've made in my life. It's been absolutely wonderful.
Dr. Tippett-Whyte: Absolutely. And not always all the work that we do. But the connections and the friendships that we build. And you know, there’s just nothing that can replace that value that you get from your fellow dentists and the camaraderie that you build.
Dr. Nagy: I am 100 percent with you. So let me ask you the next question. If there was just one message you could share with new dentists, what would it be?
Dr. Tippett-Whyte: Say yes when somebody asks you to get involved. Get involved in leadership.
It may not be in the dental profession. Maybe you get involved in your local rotary group or something in your church or PTA your kids’ schools. Just something to help you become involved. It will help you grow your practice. It will help you grow as a leader within your practice and you're going to develop skills that and grow more than you ever really thought. And I think it's important that you take the time to do that and although it takes time from your practice, in the long run, it will help your practice and help you significantly.
Dr. Nagy: Yeah, thank you for that. For any members who you haven't met yet, can you share a little bit about yourself?
Dr. Tippett-Whyte: Sure. I graduated from UC Davis for my undergrad with the degree in dietetics, which I apply my nutrition to my practice every day in talking with patients about oral health and the relationship between foods and what we eat.
I then went to UOP dental school, graduated in the class of 1986 and returned to Stockton, my hometown, to practice. I'm in a solo group practice. So I have two partners, but we maintain our practices and pretty much share our practice related expenses.
I've been married for 36 years to my wonderful husband, Steve, who works for the University of the Pacific as their director of events and protocol, if I got that right.
We have three grown boys. One is in the Navy. One just received a faculty position at William and Mary College in physics research with his quantum physics Ph.D. And my youngest is in Fort Collins and works for a water testing company in chemical engineering.
I love the outdoors. I love to do projects. I love to do projects around my house. One of our goals in the near future is to travel the U.S. and see all the national parks. Life has been good to me, I've been very blessed.
Dr. Nagy: Thank you for that. And one last question. With so much information coming our way, how can members best keep up to date?
Dr. Tippett-Whyte: Well, there's several ways that our members can be best kept up to date. The first would be to go to our website. That's updated routinely there's so much information in there in terms of practice support and finding the answers to questions that you need. The other thing is to go into your membership profile online and request to receive our weekly updates, information from TDIC. There's multiple communications that you can get, but some people have opted out of that, and so they're not getting that information. Read the updates as they come out. Read the Journals. Pick up the phone and call and ask us if you have some questions. We're always willing to communicate with you.
Dr. Nagy: Thank you for that. And I have to say that we've been working together on Executive Committee of the last four years, and I am so pleased you are new CDA President, and I wish you well for the year ahead. There's a lot on your plate, but you're the person to take us forward. Thank you so much.
Dr. Tippett-Whyte: Thanks, Rick, it's going to be an exciting year. I have a great Executive Committee and leadership team with our Board of Trustees and CDA staff—they're going to make this job easy. I'm really excited.