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Earlier this year, Erika Blumenthal joined Benefits Data Trust (BDT) as our first-ever Chief Operating Officer. In this leadership role, she is ultimately responsible for developing — and evolving — an efficient and dignified client experience, as well as attracting, retaining, and growing relationships to help BDT connect people to assistance for better health and financial security. She has more than 20 years of experience in operations management, and six years in education management, teaching, and learning.
We sat down with Erika to learn more about her work and her first six months at BDT.
What drew you to BDT?
BDT’s mission is what first caught my attention – especially in light of the disproportionate level of impact the pandemic has had on those experiencing financial insecurity. I was most drawn to the idea of joining an organization focusing on data and outcomes; BDT is clearly able to demonstrate the direct impact its work has on both streamlining benefits access systems as well as connecting individuals and families to vital assistance. And now being a leader at the organization, I feel even more motivated by this aspect of our work.
What are you most excited about in your role?
I am excited about helping BDT prepare to scale its operations by developing, polishing, and refining processes that enable the organization to reach people more effectively and at scale. Last year, BDT grew exceedingly quickly, increasing our staffing by 51% and moving from an in-person to a distributed workforce in record time. With that exciting growth and shift comes an opportunity to perfect the ways that we work, which will allow the organization to have wider reach to bring about meaningful change in the benefits access landscape. Ultimately, our efforts are all in service of bringing benefits more quickly and efficiently to those who most need them.
What has been most surprising to you in your first six months?
The impact BDT has made during the COVID-19 pandemic is impressive. At a time when BDT needed to transition to a remote workforce, and to support its own staff, the organization was able to simultaneously increase its reach, submitting over 95,000 applications and securing approximately $150 million in assistance for families and individuals in 2020 alone.
You have an international background – tell us about those experiences.
Indeed, I have always had an interest in all things international — I grew up in a household of language and culture teachers, hosting international students and refugees and just appreciating other cultures. That said, I am Philly born and raised, and thrilled to be working for an organization with Philly roots.
In my prior professional roles at Kaplan Inc., I assisted international doctors and nurses in getting their licenses to practice in the U.S. Additionally, in one of my last roles there, I fostered and led a team of more than 100 employees in Bangalore, India. In interacting with people from other cultures, I have learned the common humanity of us all and to have a great respect for all people.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I spend a lot of time with my teenage kids — teaching a 16-year-old to drive is scary, but fun! I also like to sew, ice skate, kayak, and enjoy the trails in our local parks.
Take a look at Erika’s bio to read more about her background and her role at BDT.