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Meet the Officers


President – Ryan Pepper, BTDH, RDH

Ryan graduated with his Associates degree in Dental Hygiene from Hudson Valley Community College in 2009. He returned to Plattsburgh, New York and worked for a few years before returning to college. In 2017, he graduated from SUNY Canton with his Bachelor’s in Dental Hygiene. During his final semester, he interned at Vermont Technical College’s Dental Hygiene Program and was offered a part-time clinical instructor position for the fall of 2017. He currently works full time as an Associate Professor at Vermont State University. In his spare time he enjoys spending time with friends and his dog, as well as variety of outdoor activities like hiking, kayaking and camping.

Vice President – Tammy Valadakis, RDH

Tammy graduated from Middlesex County College, NJ in 1992.  Continued at Wagner College in Staten Island, NY for BS in Elementary Education and Psychology in 1995.  Proceeded in obtaining  a MS in Reading and Learning Disabilities in 1998.  In 2019 she received a CDHC. Since 2019 is working on obtaining her COM.  Currently working full time in private practice and with 802 Smiles.  Outside of working,  I love spending time with my family, reading and traveling.

Immediate Past President – Carmen I. Negron-Dupee, BS, RDH

Carmen has a Bachelor’s degree in Family and Consumer Sciences (1994) and an Associate’s Degree in Dental Hygiene (1998), both from the University of Puerto Rico. She worked at a Periodontal practice for 5 years before moving to the Boston, MA area in 2002, where she worked at Boston University School of Dental Medicine and in two general private practices. In 2007, she moved to Vermont and continued practicing clinical dental hygiene. Currently, she works at the Community Health Center of Burlington. Carmen has a great passion for dental hygiene, she really enjoys educating and helping patients change their attitudes towards oral health and in that way improving their smiles and quality of life.

Outside of work, she enjoys spending time with her family and pets. She loves to read, learn, travel, garden, and quilt.

Acting-Past President – Erica Gates, RDH

In 2008, Erica obtained her Bachelor’s degree from University of Vermont with a double major in Neurobiology & Psychology. She continued her education at Vermont Technical College graduating with an Associate in Science degree in Dental Hygiene in 2011.
Erica served sevent terms as secretary for the VDHA and is excited to continue her leadership development as President Elect and now President. Erica is currently working in a private practice located in her home town.

Erica lives in Cambridge with her husband and two children on their farm. In her free time she enjoys the outdoors, cooking, baking & gardening.

Treasurer – Judy Schmidt, BSDH, RDH

Judy graduated in 1992 with an Associate of Science in Dental Hygiene from Erie Community College, NY. She then graduated in 2023 with a Bachelor of Science in Dental Hygiene from Vermont Technical College, VT. She currently works at Vermont Technical State University as a part-time clinical instructor. Judy has a passion for working with dental hygiene students and helping them achieve their goals to become a registered dental hygienist. Judy’s main goal for serving on the VDHA Executive Board is to help encourage new dental hygienists to stay life long learners and supporters of the profession. In her free time Judy loves hiking in the Adirondack Mts, gymnastics, and spending time with her family.

Secretary – Nicole Fortune, MBA, RDH

As a dental hygienist in a busy Vermont periodontal office, Nicole continuously enhances her knowledge in non- surgical and preventative care. In order to stay abreast of the latest periodontal technologies, Nicole continues to advance her education and holds certification in CO2, Diode and ND:Yag laser certification. She is also one of few hygienists to be certified in periodontal endoscopy. Nicole’s dedication to patient care excellence, industry knowledge, and technological acumen earned her the title of Vermont’s Dental Hygienist of the Year for 2017.