A woman from Rescue was appointed by Gov. Jerry Brown to the Dental Hygiene Committee of California on Dec. 3.
Susan Tallent Johnson started her career in 1974 with the Bank of America, where she worked her way “up to the top” during her 33 years with the bank, she said.
She began in San Francisco at a time when ATMs were just being rolled out, one of the “most important and exciting times” of working with the bank, she said. This was only rivaled as online banking became an option and her branch installed Apple computers to teach customers. She noted she went to Cupertino to the Apple headquarters to learn how to “tear apart” the computers to fix them. She also noted she worked with the FBI and local police departments after one of the first “BofA holdups” occurred at her branch.
After going from a teller to being a bank manager and administrator, she decided to go to the credit side of the bank. She spent six weeks in a condo, being taught public speaking and how to order items and pay bills. As manager of the Stanford branch and later the Sunnydale branch in the “dot com” era, her clients included CEOs of Fortune 500 companies and professional football players.
But after 33 years in the banking industry, she decided to leave. A takeover robbery helped make up her mind for her. She applied for early retirement in Feb. 2000, with approval in August of that year. In October, she retired.
She sold her house in San Jose, looking in three places for homes: Palm Springs; Boise, Idaho; and Sacramento. With family still in San Jose, she only had to decide whether she was going to be up Highway 80 or 50. “I felt relaxed going up 50,” she said. The decision was made. Moving into El Dorado Hills, however, was a fluke. A house in Folsom fell through when the construction company lost its permit and could not continue. On Dec. 21, she sealed the deal on a house in Serrano.
“It was an accident, I didn’t know anyone,” she said. “I took a year off and then joined chambers of commerce in El Dorado Hills and Folsom.”
She has always been involved in volunteer work — she served Easter dinner to the needy and, as her daughter Monica is disabled with juvenile rheumatoid arthritis and required hospital care, she gave back by volunteering with children at the hospital.
Through what she calls a “human pinball machine” of contacts, she was led to apply to be appointed to a board or committee of the California Department of Consumer Affairs. The department wanted a mix of people on the committee — a dentist is joined by dental hygienists and members of the public, Johnson said. “It’s a balance,” she said, and the department looks for members of the public with no dental-oriented background. By her own admission, the only dental background Johnson had was seeing the dentist every few months for checkups.
Johnson applied online and went through a process of being interviewed multiple times. They then gave her a list of committees, commissions and groups within the department and asked her which ones she would prefer to be in. She was willing to be in ones that “educated me and I can educate others about.” After being bounced around to multiple departments, with other applicants having done the same, she was cemented into the Dental Hygiene Committee.
According to its Website, “the responsibilities of DHCC include issuing, reviewing and revoking licenses as well as developing and administering examinations. Additional functions include adopting regulations, determining fees and continuing education requirements for all hygiene licensure categories.”
“To me, it was a big deal,” she said of her appointment. “It was not an easy process. Not a chance in hell I would be picked,” she said. The process from application to being contacted for possible appointment was “well over a year,” she said. “It had been so long, I had shredded the papers.”
The position pays $100 per diem. Johnson, who lives in Rescue, will continue to be a property manager of the apartments where she lives, having moved from Serrano after being promised free rent and having dealt in the real estate world in the years since her retirement from the bank. The job, she joked, is not too hard and allows her time to do community service, including her new position.
She has already attended her first meeting, only about a week after her appointment. “I’m extremely delighted, it’s a wonderful, wonderful, warm group of people. I can’t wait. It’s a four-year term and I’m really looking forward to it,” she said. She noted that California is the only state with such a committee, with the other 49 looking to this one as an example.
Contact Cole Mayer at 530-344-5068 or [email protected] Follow @CMayerMtDemo.