Philadelphia, July 15, 2020 — Benefits Data Trust (BDT) is pleased to announce the hiring of Leona Thomas as its new Chief Technology Officer (CTO). BDT is a national nonprofit organization that connects people to public benefits that can help pay for food, housing, healthcare, and other critical needs. As CTO and as a biracial, lesbian executive with over 25 years of industry experience, Leona will bring diverse perspectives to both BDT and the tech for good space. Leona will lead BDT’s technology efforts and data infrastructure strategy to streamline public benefits access and increase BDT’s impact so that more people can meet their basic needs and gain financial stability.
Leona began at BDT on June 15, succeeding Sam Rastin who oversaw BDT’s data and technology operations as the interim CTO. During that time, one of Sam’s accomplishments included successfully developing and implementing the organization’s technology strategy to move a staff of 200 to securely work remotely due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Sam resumes his position as Director of Software Engineering, a key position within Leona’s team.
“BDT is excited to welcome Leona Thomas as our new CTO during a time when connecting people to benefits that help them with essentials, such as buying food and getting a checkup or lifesaving medical treatment, has never been more important. We would like to thank Sam for his work during this transition,” said Trooper Sanders, Chief Executive Officer of BDT. “Leona’s more than 25 years of professional experience, including many senior leadership posts, will allow us to deepen and accelerate our data and technology work, as well as leadership, to improve the health and well-being of people and families across the country.”
Leona joins BDT from her position as Founder of Enabling Investments, LLC., where she helped to establish seven new women- and minority-owned businesses, as well as provide management and technology consulting for industry-leading corporations and nonprofit organizations. Her resume also includes 10 years of strategic management consulting with CSC Consulting, as well as stints as Global Transformation Director for Hibu, and COO of Wylei, Inc.
“My first focus in life is doing what I can to make an impact and help to make the world a better place for everyone,” says Leona. “This opportunity with BDT will allow me to use everything I learned in corporate America and make a difference for all people in need.”
A strong proponent of fostering community and inclusivity beyond her professional endeavors, in her free time, Leona holds leadership roles with the following organizations:
- board member and co-chair of Strategic Planning for the William Way Community Center, Philadelphia’s LGBTQIA+ community center
- original and current member of SIM (Society for Information Management) Women’s Leadership Advisory Council
- current member of the DiverseForce On Boards community, a board training and matching program for emerging and senior leaders of color in the greater Philadelphia area
Originally from Springfield, Massachusetts, Leona learned programming, electronics, and engineering in her precollegiate education which helped her to launch her career as a technology executive. A double alumna of Drexel University, she earned her BSE in Electrical and Computer Engineering and her Executive MBA there. She lives in the Mt. Airy neighborhood of Philadelphia, which she considers her adopted home.
About Benefits Data Trust
Benefits Data Trust (BDT) is a national nonprofit that helps people live healthier, more independent lives by creating smarter ways to access essential benefits and services. Each year, BDT helps tens of thousands of people receive critical supports using data, technology, targeted outreach, and policy change. Since inception in 2005, BDT has screened more than one million households and secured over $7 billion in benefits and services. BDT employs more than 200 people and provides enrollment assistance to individuals in six states and policy assistance to states nationwide. For more information, visit www.bdtrust.org.