Dr. D. Todd Russell
Chief Executive Officer
Dr. D. Todd Russell, DDS, is the founder and CEO of Empire Dental Arts and an award-winning dentist with 30+ years’ experience driving best practices across strategic operations and patient care. He is adept at identifying and executing disciplined operational and business strategies across dental practice management, clinician teams, patient care, and organizational visioning.
Prior to founding Empire Dental Arts, Dr. Russell worked for more than 25 years in private practice, then emerged as the #1 performing dentist for the DSO, Merit Dental. He works with professional athletes as the official team dentist for the Cleveland Monsters and previously the Cleveland Gladiators. He has served as a distinguished faculty member for MetroHealth Medical Center, Marymount Hospital, Laurelwood Hospital, and University Hospitals of Cleveland.
Dr. Russell earned his Doctor of Dental Surgery, DDS at SUNY of Buffalo School of Dentistry, and completed his residency at MetroHealth of Cleveland. He received his B.S. at Mount Union College, where he notably was an accomplished NCAA athlete and coach. Dr. Russell is an active member of numerous professional associations, including the Cleveland Dental Society, the Ohio Dental Association, the Academy of General Dentistry, and the American Dental Association. As an industry bellwether, he has presented at international conferences in recognition of his research and many publications. Dr. Russell, DDS, calls Cleveland home with his wife and three kids.
Chief Operating Officer
Vimal Bhatnagar is the Chief Operating Officer of Empire Dental Arts. He is a multidisciplinary, industry thought leader with over 10 years’ experience advancing strategic business operations, clinic management, and market development. Vimal’s innovative improvement strategies drive performance excellence and safeguard the mission and values of the organization.
Vimal is the founder of Densential, the niche professional service company dedicated to insurance credentialing and compliance solutions. He has also been the Director of Market Operations for Dental ONE Partners as well as the Director of Strategic Operations for Hudec Dental. Vimal launched his career in the dental healthcare space as the Vice President of Operations and Legal Counsel for Peak Dental Services, a multi-unit, multi-specialty DSO.
Vimal received his J.D. from Cleveland State University Cleveland-Marshall College of Law and was notably admitted to the Colorado State Bar. He earned both his M.A. and B.A. in Anthropology and Psychology from Case Western Reserve University. He remains an active member of his community and is an ardent immigration law advocate. Vimal and his family live in Northeast Ohio.
Director of Business Operations
Julie Vella is the Director of Operations at Empire Dental Arts. She brings 25+ years’ experience leading all facets of dental operations, management, clinician support, and patient care. Julie’s steady and collaborative leadership approach is paramount to supporting organizational growth with uncompromising standards at every level.
Throughout her career, Julie has carefully navigated and mastered the complex dental healthcare provider industry and emerging dental partner organizations. Prior to joining the Empire Dental Arts team, Julie was the Senior Office Manager at Merit Dental. Prior to this, she was the Office Manager for Dr. Todd Russell, DDS, in his successful private practice serving over 5,000 patients in Northeast Ohio. Julie launched her career with Dr. Russell there, working in support operations. Julie calls Cleveland home and enjoys spending time with her two kids and three grandchildren.
Shabi Asef is financial controller at Empire Dental Arts. As a Certified Public Accountant, she brings 10+ years of healthcare accounting and finance experience to Empire. Her goal is to help Empire achieve financial success through “Kaizen”, or “change for better”, her personal motto. Shabi pursues continuous improvement at the workplace and in her personal endeavors.
Shabi spent three years as a Senior Financial Analyst for University Hospitals of Cleveland. She was also the corporate controller at Providence Healthcare Management for more than five years.
Before immigrating to the U.S. with her family in 2003, Shabi served as an international travel guide. She also earned a Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees in teaching German Literature and Education. Upon arriving in the United States, she went back to school to pursue a different field, earning her Master of Accountancy from Cleveland State University and ultimately her CPA. Shabi calls Chagrin Falls home where she lives along with her husband and son.