By Ashley Benkarski
She’s known as a dentist to most, an employer to a few, a sister to some, and a mother to some, but a friend to all.
A 1995 alumnus of Nashville’s Meharry School of Dentistry and the founder and owner of Integrity Dental Care, Dr. Jacqueline Butler Mitchell is all these things and more.
For one, she’s the first Black woman to open and run three general dental practices simultaneously in Tennessee. She’s been a teacher, served in the
military, held leadership positions in various organizations and is a published writer in The Tennessee Tribune with her educational “Tooth Talk” column.
Graduating from Meharry is one of Dr. Mitchell’s proudest achievements, but being an entrepreneur is definitely another– She’s the first in her family to own a business. Her parents were teachers but pushed her and her sister to strive for more. She remembers her father saying being your own boss allows you freedom to make your own choices. For her, this means being able to help those in need rather than adhering to a profit-driven motive.
Her parents passed away before they could see her open up her own practice and that’s the one thing Dr. Mitchell would change about her life, she said, though she knows her parents watch over her now. She’s “grateful for the seeds [her] parents planted” that helped her grow, she added.
At the core of her service is her love for God, which she expresses with sincerity and utmost intention. If the Dallas, Texas native isn’t at her practice providing care to clients, she can most likely be found organizing and managing charitable events for the Nashville community.
She recently worked with the National Black Police Association and Lee AME Chapel to distribute desperately needed food boxes to scores of Nashvillians experiencing hunger due to the coronavirus pandemic’s economic devastation that came immediately on the heels of a deadly tornado that tore through the city, destroying homes and businesses alike.
Dr. Mitchell said she feels God has blessed her to be a blessing to others. “If a wealthy person can come and serve when they don’t have to, it teaches the hierarchy of service,” she explained. She said she wanted to give away 300 boxes of food and the first truck received had 1,500, which grew to 3,000 every Saturday. “God took my 300 and super-sized it,” she said, and this year they’ve given away over 30,000 boxes of food in three months. “I can go to my refrigerator and I have choices. These people don’t have choices.”
“When you see that, when you hear that, it really humbles you,” she continued. “But then it also helps me to see how God blesses me daily and we take so much for granted.”
She developed her own charitable program, giving away about 300 backpacks to children yearly and recently launched another called Blessing Bags for Helping the Homeless. She also works with community Thanksgiving and Christmas programs for those in need during the holidays.
Dr. Mitchell has been a member of Mount Zion Baptist Church for nearly two decades and serves on its Board of Directors. She also sits on a “Shark Tank”-style program provided by the church to provide guidance and leadership to inspiring young entrepreneurs. She is the recipient of The Hidden Figures Medical Award for 2020 for Mount Zion Baptist Church.
Her dentistry career is illustrious and led Dr. Mitchell to explore her abilities across disciplines. After graduation from Meharry, she went back to Dallas to work as an Assistant Clinical Professor at Baylor College of Dentistry for six years. She was also brought in by the military as a Major for the 118th Air Force National Guard to serve as a dentist.
Over the years in Tennessee, she’s been a board member for Metro Action Head Start Program, the lead dentist for Dickson County Health Department and in March 2018 acted as Clinical Dean part-time at Meharry School of Dentistry for two years.
She returned to practicing full-time at her TriStar Southern Hills location and has opened three successful dental offices across the Nashville area over 16 years. She’s a member of the American Dental Association, the National Dental Association and the Tennessee Dental Association.
Dr. Mitchell has a radio public announcement on 92Q, Tooth Talk Tips, for educating the community.
She “enjoys walking in her purpose and providing quality cosmetic and family dentistry to patients from all walks of life in her private practice as well as mentoring young adults,” she said, and her strong belief in God allows her to know that God has ordered her steps. She added she’s truly blessed and “grateful to be in the wonderful field of dentistry where [her] knowledge, skills and ability can be put to good use.”
Dr. Mitchell was recognized for her service by the NBPA and the state’s House of Representatives, among other community organizations, and most recently received Meharry’s Fred C. Fielder, D. D. S. Distinguished Dentist Award in October 2020. A former student of Dr. Fielder, she said she was “totally blown away’’ by the Meharry award, adding it was a great honor and she’s thankful because they had so many other choices.
When reached to discuss her Woman of the Year achievement by the Tribune Dr. Mitchell was humbly surprised, opting to express gratitude by lauding Tribune publisher Rosetta Miller Perry’s accomplishments and activism for the underrepresented. “It’s not just what she’s done for me, it’s what she’s done with the community,” she said, noting Perry afforded her the opportunity to explore her desire to write. “She’s paved the way for so many minorities, particularly women.”
She’s thankful for the people in her life that have helped her and been there for her through her own times of need–specifically, Bishop Joseph Walker, III of Mt. Zion, who she views as a brother and a friend, and his wife Dr. Stephanie, and Reggie Miller, President of the Nashville Chapter of the NBPA, who can be found assisting in many of Dr. Mitchell’s charitable endeavors. “The thing that I love about Reggie, [he’s] a behind-the-scenes man,” she said. “He never wants to be out front. He always wants to make other people look good. That’s a true servant.”
A small circle of friends including Walker and Miller have become her family since her sister passed away recently, leaving Dr. Mitchell with no immediate family members in Nashville.
“In their own respect they are my mentors and they motivate and encourage me,” she said.
Dr. Mitchell also named Meharry’s Dr. James Tyus, and the late Dr. William Butler who taught her how to do crowns and bridges, in her list of mentors as well as Dr. Rick Frazier and the Tooth Maker, Joe Young, who does lab work for Meharry and will come to her office while she’s working with patients to offer advice on difficult cases. Simone Sheats, she added, helped her in making business decisions when opening her office.
“If you do what’s right and continue to put God first and continue to try to help people because we’re all God’s people … God can continue blessing you with more because it’s not just for you, but it’s for you to be a blessing to others ,” she said.
It is with great pride that The Tennessee Tribune names Dr. Jacqueline Mitchell our 2020 Woman of the Year.