Meet Your GADHA Board of Directors


Kym Whitehead graduated from Austin Community College’s Dental Hygiene program in 2014. She became interested in the organizational side of the profession while still in school, and was Jr. President, and the Senior President of her graduating class. She receive the only Colgate STAAR award for total student achievement presented in Austin that same year. Kym has a longstanding commitment to community service, and helps organize GADHA’s involvement with the AISD Back To School Bash every year.

Kym loves dental hygiene, because the profession offers her a flexible schedule to pursue other non-profit and volunteer activities, which she believes weaves her tightly into the fabric of our community. Kym believes that membership in ADHA allows her voice to be heard on a national level, assuring that procedures and standards are upheld, for the sake of patients’ health. As a member of TDHA, she has attended annual conference and acted as a delegate for the hygienists of Austin on multiple occasions, ensuring that the concerns of hygienists are met, so that the hygienists are able to focus of meeting the needs of the patients.

Kym believes that membership in GADHA is the best way to meet a wide variety of hygienists of all ages and walks of life, in order to learn from their experience and perspective, and to discover new ways to give back where she lives. She practices dental hygiene four days a week in a central Austin office, and enjoys baking bread and making jelly in her spare time.

Melissa Vetter


Melissa Chagollán Vetter received her Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene from Austin Community College in 2016. She also holds a Bachelors of Arts in English from the University of Southern California. Her passion lies in community outreach and recently started an adjunct faculty position at Austin Community College as lab faculty for their community and other classroom courses. As an avid member of ADHA at both the local and state level, she hopes to provide resources for local components on how to organize community events while changing systemic issues in dental care in the US from a grassroots level. Her hobbies include playing viola in local chamber groups, walking with her husband, son, & two dogs, knitting, attending film festivals, and playing board games with friends.

Josette Chen

Vice President

Josette Chen graduated with a Bachelor of Science in Biology from UT Austin before earning an Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene from Austin Community College. She was involved in her class’ SCADHA component as historian and joined GADHA to stay involved with the dental hygiene community. She has high hopes and wants to be part of the positive force in advancing the dental hygiene profession in Texas. In her free time, Josette enjoys reading, attending concerts, traveling, and taking photos.



Trine began her career in the dental field as a Registered Dental Assistant in 1996. Over the following 15 years, she worked in General Dentistry, and then in the specialties of Orthodontics and Endodontics.. Trine then completed additional training to work as an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgical (Sedation) Technician. In 2011, Trine moved into the front office area for a General Dentistry practice as an Appointment and Insurance Coordinator, eventually moving into the Front Office Manager position.

These varied positions allowed Trine to experience all aspects of practice management and clinical patient care, and helped develop her passion for creating a safe and pleasant patient experience.

Trine graduated from the Dental Hygiene Program at ACC in 2016.  She was the lone recipient of the Susie K. Pearce Award, which recognized student excellence in patient care and clinical demeanor.  She currently works as a Registered Dental Hygienist for a private general practice in Oak Hill.


Reena Patel holds a Bachelor’s in Science from The University of South Carolina in addition to an Associate of Applied Science in Dental Hygiene. She served as the South Carolina SDHA Treasurer and received the Colgate S.T.A.R award demonstrating excellence and commitment to the dental hygiene profession. She has been a proud member of ADHA since 2018 and participates in involvement at both the local and state levels. She is passionate about patient advocacy and community outreach and hopes to help advance the dental hygiene profession in the state of Texas. In her free time, Reena enjoys riding her bike, playing soccer, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.

Meet your GADHA Committee Chairs & Members


Legislative Chair

Sandy Tesch grew up in upstate New York and attended dental hygiene school at Broome Community College in Binghamton, New York. After working for a few years as a clinical hygienist, she went back to school full time to get a Bachelor of Science degree in school health education. Upon completion of her BSE degree, she was tired of the cold winters in NY and decided to move to Texas to further her professional career. Sandy worked as a dental hygiene clinician for several general practices while completing her Master of Science in Health Professions (Health Education/Health Administration) at Southwest Texas State University. She has been a registered dental hygienist for over 40 years.

Sandy works as state employee within the DSHS Oral Health
Improvement Program (OHIP) for the office of the Public Health State Dental Director. Her responsibilities include oversight of OHIP’s perinatal oral health program and training, technical writing and curriculum development, policy development, grant writing, and project management. She serves nationally as a sealant consultant for the Association of State and Territorial Dental Directors (ASTDD) and also serves as a board director on the Texas Oral Health Coalition.

Sandy is a past president of both the Austin component and state
associations. She has served as TDHA’s Legislative Director and the Governmental Affairs Councils (GAC) co-chair. On the national level, she served as ADHA’s Vice-President and District IX Trustee. She and her son Tyler live in Austin and spends their free time traveling, movie going, and eating out.

Legislative Committee Members


Membership Chair

My name is Karen Tuel. I am from Maryland. I earned an Associate in Arts degree from Montgomery College in 1966. In 1968 I attended Howard University’s Dental Hygiene Program (within the College of Dentistry) in Washington, DC. I was on the Dean’s Honor Roll my second semester. I was elected to membership in Sigma Phi Alpha, the Dental Hygiene Honor Society, in February of 1970. I graduated with a Certificate in Dental Hygiene in June of 1970.

I moved to Austin in September of 1973 and obtained my Texas license in 1974. I became a member of my professional association in 1991. I practiced in general and pediatric private offices. I was employed for 10 years with the City of Austin Dental Program for medical assistance patients. In that time Doug and I married & had a son, born in 1983. I was able to take 2 years off to tend to my family. My next employment was with a private general practice which lasted 27 years until I retired in August of 2015.

I have made many friends over the years as a member of ADHA, TDHA, and GADHA. Being a member
has given me many volunteer opportunities to give back to the Austin community. I participated in
several “Seal Out Decay the Austin Way” programs, Health Fairs, oral health presentations at elementary
schools, an oral health presentation at Seton Hospital to members of the local Parkinson’s Association,
and AISD’s Back to School Bash. I served as a Delegate for many years at the TDHA Annual Sessions.
I also donated blood regularly over the years. I am proud of my 20 gallon blood donation plaque.

At the component level I have served as President for 2 consecutive years, Secretary, and Treasurer a
couple of times.

In 2004 Esther Wilkins came to Austin for a continuing education seminar and I volunteered to pick her
up at the airport. I had my Clinical Practice of the Dental Hygienist textbook in the car and she
immediately recognized it by its color and said, “Oh, I see you have the Second Edition!”, knowing the
color of each of the twelve editions. She was an energetic 88 year old that year. She autographed my
textbook, thanking me for my kind hospitality. Her penmanship was meticulous!

I have participated for several years in TDHA’s “Legislative Awareness Day” at the Capitol. I testified at
the most recent Sunset hearing for TSBDE.

Doug & I will be celebrating our 40th wedding anniversary this coming January. Currently we are
preparing our home of 27 years for the market. We will be moving to Round Mountain before the end of
the year. We will be close to 3 state parks- Pedernales, Blanco, and Inks. We love camping in our trailer,
getting out in nature, watching the birds and hiking.

Membership Committee Members


Bylaws and Policy & Procedure Manual Co-chairs
Nancy Cline & Sandy Tesch

Sandy Tesch pictured above.

I am a retired dental hygiene educator who moved to Texas 20 years ago. I graduated from the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center School of Dentistry and received a Master’s Degree in Public Health from the University of California.  I was the Dental Hygiene Program Director at the Louisiana State University School of Dentistry for 10 years before I retired.

I am an active member of GADHA because the importance of belonging to my professional association was something that my faculty instilled in me when I was a student. There was no question. .You joined and you contributed. As an educator, I also required it of my faculty and students. Membership in ADHA not only makes the dental hygiene profession stronger, on a personal level, it gives you a “home” and a network of friends where ever you move. I have had “homes” in California, Puerto Rico, Georgia, Louisiana and now Texas. The dental hygiene friendships I have developed will last a lifetime.

Dental hygiene and libraries are dear to my heart.. In addition to my volunteer work for TDHA, I work one day a week at the Blanco Library and I am on its Board of Trustees. My husband and I live on a little ranch in the Hill Country outside Blanco where we enjoy our 6 longhorns, 3 miniature donkeys and one Great Pyreness dog, Boone.

Bylaws Committee Members

ADHA Student Chapter Liaison

Student Affairs Committee Members
Melissa Vetter, RDH

Community Outreach Chair
Kym Whitehead, RDH

Community Outreach Committee Members
Michelle Landrum, RDH, MEd
Melissa Vetter, RDH

Continuing Education Chair
Josette Chen, RDH

Continuing Education Committee Members
Kirsten McGee Young, RDH
Melissa Vetter, RDH
Trine Santa, RDH

Nominating Chair
Melissa Vetter, RDH

Nominating Committee Members
Sandy Tesch, RDH, MSHP
Kym Whitehead, RDH

Scholarship Chair

Scholarship Committee Members
Julia Levitt, RDH
Kimberly McDougall, RDH, MS
Karen Tuel, RDH

Budget and Financing Chair
Trine Santa, RDH

Budget and Financing Committee Members 
Karen Tuel, RDH
Julia Levitt, RDH

Webmaster, Communications Chair
Melissa Vetter, RDH

Communications Committee Members
Karen Tuel, RDH

Are you interested in becoming an officer or committee member?

Become involved by helping the different committees accomplish their goals. Select a committee to join!