The Delta Dental of Arizona Board of Directors is comprised of members who bring expertise from a variety of industries and backgrounds. Get to know our current Board of Directors:
Chairman of the Board
Elected April 2017
Dr. Richard Higgs earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the Indiana University School of Dentistry in 1993 and has been practicing in Chandler since 1996. He has participated in post graduate programs at the University of the Pacific in functional and cosmetic rehabilitation dentistry, the University of Southern California in implant dentistry, and Oregon Health Sciences University in sedation.
In 2020, Higgs’ peers voted him as one of the Top Cosmetic Dentists in Phoenix Magazine. Dr. Higgs’ practice is active in the community, hosting an annual Dentistry from the Heart free dental day for those in need, as well as participating in the Mission of Mercy. He is also an active member of multiple national and local dental organizations including the American Dental Association, American Dental Society of Anesthesiology and Central Arizona Dental Society.
Vice Chairman of the Board
Elected August 2020
Ronald DaVella retired from Deloitte in 2014 after 34 years of service, including 25 years as a partner. Over his career, DaVella served many public and private clients in various industries including franchisors, retail, software, manufacturing, technology, real estate and sports teams.
DaVella is a member of the board of directors and chairman of the audit committee of the Joint Corporation, a chiropractic franchisor and operator, that went public in 2014. He also served as the vice president of finance at the Alkaline Water Company, a manufacturer and distributer of alkaline water under the Alkaline 88 brand. As vice president of finance, DaVella was responsible for the financial planning, accounting, SEC reporting, capital markets, treasury, IT systems and board and investor interfaces for the Alkaline Water Company.
DaVella has a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting from Queens College and his Master of Business Administration in Finance from Pace University.
Elected April 2018
Stephen Houghton is the head of autonomous vehicles (AV) go to market at Amazon (AWS). His responsibilities include: setting strategy, defining the business development approach, and helping to create custom solutions for customers for cloud computing within the AV Industry.
Prior to Amazon, he was vice president of global markets for GM Cruise, General Motors' Autonomous Vehicles Division. He has also worked for McKinsey & Co. serving primarily in strategy and operations functions, has worked on several technology startups, and has served as an officer in the United States Marine Corps. He has a Master of Business Administration from Stanford Business School, a Master in Public Administration from Harvard Kennedy School of Government, and a Bachelor of Business Administration from Southern Methodist University.
Past Chairman of the Board
Elected February 2014
Candace Hunter Wiest is a managing partner at an entity focused on assisting community banks in Arizona, California and Nevada with problem loans in the aftermath of the COVID-19 pandemic. She is also the former president and CEO of West Valley Bancorp, Inc, (WVBI) and West Valley National Bank (WVNB).
Wiest’s career path has been unconventional. At age 21, she was a single parent to her two daughters and son. Her career began in hospitality as a waitress, where she worked her way up to managing two restaurants. When she was 29, she decided to move away from the hospitality industry and seek a new opportunity so she could spend more time with family.
Wiest became a secretary at a local insurance agency and was quickly promoted up through various positions. She obtained every insurance license available, including P&C, group benefits and life insurance. She also received her CIC (Certified Insurance Counselor). Wiest was a key member of the adaptation team for the Aetna Gemini system, the first computer system in its industry. Due to her accomplishments there, she was recruited by a competitor and swiftly promoted to marketing manager. When the CEO of that company resigned to start a new bank in Scottsdale, Wiest was recruited to join the team.
In 1988, Wiest accepted a new role as business development officer at a bank in Riverside, Calif. In the span of a few years, she progressed to become a loan officer, special assets officer and chief credit officer. In 1993 she was named the bank’s president and CEO. In 2006, Wiest was recruited to start West Valley National Bank, which opened their doors on December 23 of that year. She served as President and CEO until 2020 when she resigned due to health issues.
Recent public recognition includes being named as one of “100 Women to Watch” nationally in 2017 by Biz Women, a publication of the National Biz Journal; a 2017 “Trendsetter” by Trends Charities and Trends publications; Forbes 2017 “Women Leaders of the West”; an Executive Fellow by the School of Business @UCR in 2018; a 2018 industry leader by AZ Biz Magazine, and the NACD Fellow designation for the past two years. Past recognition includes a commendation from Congressman Paul Gosar for economic development efforts and job creation; listed as one of the AZ Biz Magazine’s “Arizona Business Leaders” from 2010 to 2019; a 2016 “Outstanding Woman in Business” from the Phoenix Business Journal; being named as one of the “50 Most Influential Women in Arizona” by AZ Business Magazine; recipient of the WESTMARC Leadership Award; recipient of the Athena award; named as one of the “Most Admired CEOs” by the Phoenix Business Journal’ named as the West Valley Woman of the Year; and was awarded the international Stevie Award for Best Executive.
Elected April 2021
Dr. Shaharyar Ashraf earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery from the University of Colorado School of Dental Medicine in 2012 and has been practicing in Tucson, Arizona ever since. Ashraf is a Tucson native and completed dual undergraduate degrees with honors from the University of Arizona. Since 2014, Dr. Ashraf has been the owner dentist of Tangerine Dental Group, a multi-provider dental office supported by Pacific Dental Services.
Dr. Ashraf is a teaching faculty member and a subject matter expert in CAD/CAM dentistry. He has been affiliated with multiple national and local dental organizations, including the American Dental Association, Arizona Dental Association, Southern Arizona Dental Association, Southern Arizona New Dentists, Pima Dental Study Club, We Serve Foundation, Free Dentistry Day and Arizona Dental Mission of Mercy.
Elected April 2021
Michael Erickson is the global head of battery electric vehicles (BEV) at Nikola Motor Company, a Phoenix-based startup focused on transforming the transportation industry by developing zero emissions vehicles. He also serves as a board member for the Nikola/Iveco joint venture, Nikola Powersports. In addition, Erickson serves on advisory boards and professional associations within the community, including Canyon Angels, Zigi Gas, Falcon Line, and Folds of Honor.
Prior to joining Nikola Motor Company, Erickson was the vice president and general manager at Lubrication Technologies (Lube-Tech) where he led efforts to ensure sustainable growth while fulfilling their purposeful mission. Erickson has also spent 16+ years at Polaris Industries, a global leader in powersports. While at Polaris, he held numerous leadership roles, including general manager of the company’s top side-by-side vehicle brand, RZR.
Erickson earned a bachelor’s degree in energy management and finance from Moorhead State University in Minnesota. He’s married to his wife Iris, and lives in Phoenix after relocating from Minnesota in 2019.
Elected July 2015
Dr. Gary Jones attended Brigham Young University and Arizona State University, and graduated from Northwestern Dental School in 1985. He has practiced dentistry in Mesa for over 30 years.
He served his community as a scout leader, member of the Mesa Chamber of Commerce Military Affairs Committee, chairman of the Mesa Citizens for Better Dental Health (a committee that successfully lead a voter initiative to fluoridate the City of Mesa’s water supply), and a consulting and treating dentist for Mesa Public Schools’ underprivileged children.
As a dental volunteer, he fulfilled responsibilities as president and board member of the Central Arizona Dental Society, president and board member of the Arizona Dental Association, alternate and delegate to the American Dental Association House of Delegates, and three committees of the Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners. He also served on the American Dental Association Council on Membership and the Central Arizona Dental Society Foundation Board, which sponsors the Arizona Dental Mission of Mercy each year.
Elected April 2019
Jerry Loe has spent his professional career as a high technology executive with significant experience in the computer and data center space. Most recently, he served as the general manager and vice president of operations for Power Distribution Inc (PDI) in California, where he strengthened relationships with key customers and grew the business revenue by over 15% per year.
Prior to PDI, Loe served as executive vice president at Cirrascale Corporation, focusing on expanding the company’s work with telecommunication customers in Asia. He also served in various roles at Verari Systems Inc for nearly 5 years, and spent 13 years with Cray Inc., where his successful record of negotiating significant complex business, product sales and supplier transactions played a key role in setting worldwide organizational strategies.
Loe received his Bachelor of Science degree in Manufacturing Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School. He also served as a Lieutenant in the United States Army.
Appointed January 2021
Brenda Schmidt is the CEO of Coplex, a venture studio whose mission is to create a healthier world through entrepreneurship. Schmidt previously founded Solera Health and has spent her career educating, speaking, advising and leading in the name of creating social impact.
Schmidt serves on the boards of Startup AZ Foundation, Solera Health, RexPay, the City of Phoenix Workforce Development Board and is a FierceHealth Editorial Board Advisor and contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine. Schmidt also teaches entrepreneurship at the NYU Wagner School of Public Service.
Elected April 2016
Dr. Bruce Spigner has been practicing dentistry since 1982. He earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery degree from the University of Southern California (USC) and a post doctorial certificate from the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA) in hospital dentistry. While in his residency at UCLA, he received additional training in restorative and cosmetic dentistry, sedation, endodontics, periodontics, special needs dentistry, and oral surgery.
Spigner is widely recognized for his expertise in hospital and special needs dentistry and has served as founder and director of the Center for Dental Health at Good Samaritan Medical Center, creating the first full service hospital dentistry in the Valley. He opened a private dental practice in Phoenix in 1991 where he specializes in restorative, cosmetic, sedative, special needs and hospital dentistry.
Spigner also is an active member of multiple national, state and local dental organizations including the American Dental Association, Arizona State Dental Association and Central Arizona Dental Association. In addition, he has served as a governor appointee to the Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners, Chair of state board Anesthesia Committee, Examiner for the Western Regional Examining Board and Dental Auditor for Professional Background Information Services.
Elected August 2020
Dr. Michael A. Warren is a comprehensive family dentist who actively practices at his Litchfield Park dental office, Warren & Hagerman Family Dentistry. In 2011, his peers voted him as one of the Top Dentists in Phoenix Magazine. Warren has a biology degree from Creighton University and graduated from the Creighton University Dental School in 1997. In 2009, he completed the American Dental Association/Kellogg Executive Management Program at Northwestern University.
Warren believes in giving back to the community. He is a former member of the Executive Council Charities and a current member of The Thunderbirds. He donates one day a month at the Delta Dental Oral Health Center at St. Vincent de Paul. Along with Delta Dental of Arizona, Warren has sat on the boards for the Arizona Dental Foundation, Junior Golf Association of Arizona, St. Francis Xavier Capitol Campaign Committee, St. Francis Xavier Advisory Board, The Thunderbird Charities and the Special Olympics of Arizona.
Warren is a member of the American Dental Association, the Arizona Dental Association and the Central Arizona Dental Association. He is also a faculty club member at Spear Education, a teaching facility that provides advanced training to dentists around the world.