Startups

Power Moves: Benefits Data Trust hired its first chief digital officer (and snagged $20M from MacKenzie Scott)

Plus, additions to the City's Office of Innovation, a new CEO at SEI Investments, local healthcare hires and nods to Philly companies at SXSW.

Stephen Rockwell.

(Photo courtesy of Benefits Data Trust)

Power Moves is a column where we chart the comings and goings of talent across the region. Got a new hire, gig or promotion? Email us: philly@technical.ly.


Benefits Data Trust (BDT), the Center City-based, nationally focused nonprofit that helps people in need access public benefits, brought on its first-ever chief data officer recently: Stephen Rockwell.

Rockwell joins BDT from Charity Navigator, where he was that org’s chief product and technology officer. The role is suited to both his interests in systems change through improving public policy to be more data driven, he said in a statement, as well as his experience in creating social change through experimentation with new tech, and leading organizational transformation efforts.

“The direct service provided through end-to-end support in navigating the challenging enrollment process has profound impact in getting benefits to those who need them today and applying the learnings from our work can build more efficient and effective systems for benefits access in the future,” he said of BDT and the new role.

(Here’s a look at what it’s like to work on the tech side of BDT.)

The announcement comes around the same time as the news of a (surprise) $20 million donation to the organization from philanthropist MacKenzie Scott. The gift will help “accelerate and expand” BDT’s work.

“Nobody should have to choose between putting food on the table, heating their homes, or taking medicine — this gift will help us more rapidly scale our efforts and innovations to ensure that families don’t have to make that choice,” the org said in a statement. “In the coming months, we will develop strategies to best leverage her gift so we can work with government and other sectors to put an end to the challenges of benefits access in the next decade.”

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An incoming SmartCityPHL data Fellow

Katrina Johnston-Zimmerman, a Philly-based urbanist, researcher and past honoree of BBC’s 100 Women list is the City of Philadelphia’s newest SmartCityPHL data fellow. The one-year fellowship supports the Office of Innovation and Technology on its work throughout the SmartCityPHL Roadmap and its development of a master data policy.

In her role, Johnston-Zimmerman will tackle topics like big data, AI and innovation, and how cities aim to maximize the opportunities for smart, equitable and inclusive progress. It’s the latest addition to OIT, which added a director of digital services and is seeking a CTO as of last month.

“So stoked to share that I’m starting a new position as SmartCityPHL Data Fellow at City of Philadelphia,” Johnston-Zimmerman wrote in a LinkedIn post. “Stay tuned for more as I settle into my first government position working with the awesome folks in the Office of Innovation and Technology.”

Katrina Johnston-Zimmerman. (Courtesy photo via Generocity)

SEI Investments gets a new CEO

Ryan Hicke is slated to become Oaks-based SEI Investments’ second-ever leader. He was named CEO after founder Al West, who’s led the company since its inception in 1968, the Philadelphia Business Journal reported.

Hicke, who’s currently the company’s chief information officer, worked his way up from an internship while at St. Joseph’s University over his 24-year career with the company. He’s slated to take on the position starting June 1, the company said in a release. Hicke previously served as a SVP, leading SEI’s UK asset management and private banking businesses and contributing to the expansion of SEI’s global footprint.

“I have the privilege of working alongside the most talented team in the industry each day, and I’m honored to serve as SEI’s next CEO. Al has been a tremendous mentor to me, and I’m grateful for his partnership and support over the years,” Hicke said in a statement. “He is a visionary leader who disrupted the financial services industry more than 50 years ago and established SEI as the trusted partner we are today. I look forward to continuing to unlock SEI’s potential, and I’m energized by the courage of our global workforce to capture the exciting opportunities ahead.”

Philly gets nods at SXSW

Members from Pennovation Works’ community visited Austin for the South by Southwest fest last month for the first time since the pandemic began. Pennovation alum Exyn Technologies was selected as an innovation awards finalist in the robotics and hardware category.

The company was founded at Penn and now operates as a drone startup building mapping aerial robots for GPS-denied environments. Its team participated in a two-day virtual pitch event held by the Penn Wharton Austin Alumni group, with a special feature on Pennovation healthcare and medtech startups. The Pennovation company ultimately didn’t place, but Philly-founded Lift Zone project by Comcast won a people’s choice award.

Trinity Health adds a biz board member

Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic announced it had appointed Vincent Gordon to the its board of directors, effective Jan. 1. Gordon is the founder, president and CEO of Gordon Policy Group, a management consulting firm focused on healthcare policy, business strategy, and relationship building between healthcare providers, health insurance companies and community-based organizations. His career spans more than 30 years in public service and the healthcare, including positions at Philly-based orgs such as Hahnemann University Hospital and AmeriHealth Caritas.

“We are thrilled to have Mr. Gordon join the Trinity Health Mid-Atlantic Board of Directors,” said Jim Woodward, president and CEO of the company, said in a statement. “His extensive experience in the healthcare field, coupled with a firm commitment to the faith-based values that guide our organization, will be invaluable as we continue our work to improve access to care in the communities we serve and address social determinants of health throughout the region.”

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