Our team

  • Francis CreightonPresident & CEO

    Francis Creighton was named President & CEO of the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in May 2017.

    Before joining CDIA, Francis was Executive Vice President of Government Affairs at the Financial Services Roundtable. A long-time veteran of Capitol Hill, he previously served as Chief of Staff to U.S. Senator Chris Murphy. Prior to that he was Vice President and Chief Lobbyist at the Mortgage Bankers Association, where he worked on affordable housing and other issues important to the real estate finance industry.

    Recognized as a “Top Lobbyist” by The Hill newspaper, Francis has made appearances in several trade, national and international print, television and radio outlets, such as American Banker magazine, PBS’s NewsHour and Fox Business.

    Francis served as Legislative Director for Representative Steve Israel of New York from 2001 to 2003, overseeing the Congressman’s legislative agenda and handling his Financial Services Committee work, including the passage of the USA PATRIOT Act and the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. From 1999 to 2001, Francis was an appointee at the U.S. Department of Labor, where he focused on employee benefits in the private sector and other issues. Prior to 1999, he served as Legislative Assistant for Representative Sam Gejdenson, focusing on pension and campaign financing reforms. Francis began his career working in the office of Sen. Daniel Patrick Moynihan of New York.

    Francis holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy from Georgetown University, where he is an adjunct faculty member. He received his Bachelor’s degree in Political Science and History from the University at Albany, State University of New York. Francis lives in the Washington, DC area with his wife, Julia.

  • Eric J. EllmanSenior Vice President, Public Policy & Legal Affairs

    Eric J. Ellman is Senior Vice President for Public Policy and Legal Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in Washington, DC. He also served for eight months as Interim President and CEO of the Association.

    At CDIA, Eric leads the state government and federal regulatory affairs programs, runs the legal department, and serves as liaison to the format teams for credit data reporting.  He participates in the management of the Association as well. With CDIA since 1998, Eric’s work has been highlighted on the front page of the USA Today Money section (June 2007), where he was called a “warrior” who is “always well prepared for battle”.

    Prior to joining CDIA, Eric worked for five years for the Direct Selling Association. A native New Yorker, he has been in and around government and public service and politics for most of his life. In 1989, he became the youngest elected official in Maryland, winning a seat on the Friendship Heights Village Council, on which he went on to serve four terms. Eric also made a bid for the Maryland state legislature in 1994.

    From 2006-11, Eric sat on the Board of Directors for Wonders Child Care—one of the largest non-profit childcare organizations in the DC-metro area.  Since 2011, he has served as a member of the Board of Directors for Congregation B’nai Tzedek in Potomac, Maryland.

    Eric holds a B.S. from American University in Washington, DC, and a law degree from the University of Baltimore.  He is a member of the bar in Maryland and Pennsylvania, and is CIPP/US certified by the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP).


  • Anita Appel (Popwell)Vice President, Education Services

    As Vice President of Education Services, Anita Appel (Popwell) oversees all operational aspects of the Department. She focuses on keeping the Association’s audiences abreast of the latest developments in regulatory compliance by managing the development and maintenance of CDIA’s educational training programs, identifying new education projects and priorities, and partnering with leading law firms to develop events covering current issues and industry best practices.

    With CDIA since 2000, Anita has played a key role in growing CDIA’s compliance training programs, expanding the education services offered not only to the Association’s members, but also to financial institutions such as data furnishers and data users.

    Anita holds a MBA from Johns Hopkins Carey Business School and a BS in Global Business/Public Policy from the University of Maryland University College.

    A native of Austria, she is a great outdoors enthusiast and typically spends her vacation on remote long-distance camping trips with her husband, Vince.

  • Betty ByrnesDirector of Finance

    Betty Byrnes is the Director of Finance at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) where she manages the finance and administration functions of the Association.

    Prior to joining CDIA in 1996, Byrnes served as the Accounting Manager for the Western Fuels Association, the Home Mortgage Access Corporation and the National Association of Home Builders.

    Betty holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Accounting from the University of Maryland.  She lives in Arlington, VA, with her husband and two grown children.

  • Sarah M. OhsDirector of Government Relations

    Sarah M. Ohs joined the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in June of 2016 and brings with her 15 years of experience in government relations at the federal, state, local and international levels. As Director of Government Relations, Sarah is responsible for developing and implementing strategies on state and federal legislative and regulatory issues of concern to CDIA members.

    Prior to joining CDIA, Sarah served as the Senior Director of Government relations for GTECH—a global gaming company based in Rhode Island—where she focused on legislative and regulatory activities in the area of internet gaming at the state and federal levels. Sarah was also Director for External Affairs at the Edison Electric Institute (EEI) in Washington, DC, where she developed third-party outreach strategies and promoted EEI’s key priority issues, including the dividend tax, cyber-security and EPA regulations. In addition, Sarah has held positions as the Director of Government Relations at the International Bottled Water Association and as Manager of Legislative Affairs for Feld Entertainment, Inc., the parent company to Ringling Bros. and Barnum and Bailey®, Feld Motorsports and Disney on Ice. In this capacity, she handled legislative and regulatory activities at the federal, state and local levels focusing on animal welfare, tax and labor issues.

    Prior to joining Feld Entertainment, Sarah spent three years as a policy advisor for Her Majesty’s Government at the British Embassy in Washington, DC, working on trade, agriculture and biopharmaceutical policy. She began her career in Washington, DC as a Capitol Hill staffer for Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell.

    Sarah holds a Master’s degree in International Relations from the University of Wales, Aberystwyth and a Bachelor’s degree from Boston College.  She lives in the Washington, DC area with her husband, Jason.

  • Kristine Poplawski ThomasManager, Marketing & Events

    Kristine Poplawski Thomas came on board at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in March 2018 and serves as the Manager, Marketing & Events. As part of CDIA’s Education Services team, she assists in providing management and oversight of for the Association’s comprehensive training programs and events.

    Prior to joining CDIA, Kristine worked as an event manager planning both social and corporate events from conferences, nonprofit galas, and weddings. In addition, Kristine worked as a social worker and nonprofit director both domestically and throughout Eastern Africa, focusing on international relations, refugees, and child protection.

    Kristine holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from Fairfield University and a Master’s in Social Work from Fordham University.  She lives in Laurel, MD with her husband.

  • Mike CaroneManager, Government Relations

    Mike Carone joined the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in November 2018, bringing his expertise in government relations at the state, local and federal levels. As Manager of Government Relations, he is responsible for developing and implementing strategies on state legislative and regulatory issues of concern to CDIA members.

    Prior to joining CDIA, Michael served as a legislative liaison at the Department of Social Services in Connecticut—the State’s largest agency, which administers billions in state and federal funds annually. In this role, he worked with multiple committees of the Connecticut General Assembly, the Office of Governor Dannel Malloy, the Office of Policy and Management, the Attorney General’s office, other government agencies, as well as numerous lobbyists and advocates in researching, preparing, monitoring and implementing legislation. This included state-funded programs and a number of large federally-funded programs (Medicaid, SNAP, HHS grants) across multiple agencies at that level. Prior to the Department of Social Services, Michael was involved with several projects, such as the development of health information technology systems, business process reviews and change innovation management.

    Michael holds a Master’s degree in Public Policy Studies from Trinity College, an Executive Education certification in the Business Mastery Program from the University of Connecticut’s School of Business, and a Bachelor’s degree from Plymouth State University.

  • Owen DoddManager, Government Relations

    Owen M. Dodd joined the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA) in June 2019, bringing his expertise in government relations at the state, and federal levels. As Manager of Government Relations, he is responsible for developing and implementing strategies on federal legislative and regulatory issues of concern to CDIA members.

    Prior to joining CDIA, Owen most recently served as the Communications Director for Congressman Sanford D. Bishop, Jr., and as the National Press Secretary for Congressman John B. Larson where he also served as his Legislative Aid. As an expert communicator who utilizes a history of public policy at both state and federal levels, he has a proven track record of finding common ground and building partnerships in and across government and business sectors.

    Owen holds a Master’s degree in International Relations and Affairs from The New School and a Bachelor’s degree from University of Montana. He served in the Peace Corps in Burkina Faso and Guyana.