Staff Archives - CDIA

Our team

  • Dan SmithPresident & CEO

    Dan Smith is president & CEO of the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA), a trade association representing the U.S. consumer reporting industry.

    At CDIA, Dan is responsible for the leadership, direction, and overall management of the organization. Dan guides CDIA’s efforts to enhance the public’s recognition and understanding of the consumer reporting industry and its vital importance to consumers nationwide.

    Dan is a leading authority on federal and state legislative and regulatory processes and has an in-depth knowledge of consumer financial protection laws and regulations.

    Dan joined CDIA from the Consumer Bankers Association (CBA), where he was Executive Vice President and Head Regulatory Affairs.

    Previously, Dan was Senior Vice President and Executive Director of the American Bankers Association’s (ABA) Card Policy Counsel. There, he represented the top credit card issuers and networks in front of Congress and regulatory agencies on all issues impacting the credit card market. These included interest rate cap proposals, interchange, Regulation Z, modernization of disclosures and e-sign legislation.

    Prior to joining ABA, Dan was the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau’s (CFPB) first Assistant Director for the Office of Financial Institutions and Business Liaison. In building the office, Dan managed the Bureau’s relationship with more than 40 trade associations and senior executives at major financial services companies to facilitate constructive dialogue.

    Before joining the CFPB, Dan spent four years at Freddie Mac serving as the Director of Industry and State Relations. He was responsible for legislative, regulatory, and industry issues in all 50 states. Dan managed Freddie Mac’s relationships with the National Association of Realtors (NAR), the minority realtor groups, and state realtor associations.

    Earlier in his career, Dan spent 15 years lobbying governors, attorneys general, state agencies, and legislative bodies in all 50 states. As Vice President at Dehart and Darr Associates, he advocated on behalf of direct marketers and publishers, Fortune 500 companies, international publishers, and three trade associations.

    Dan received his Master of Business Administration and undergraduate degree in Political Science from Mount Saint Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

  • 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.  From 2011-2020, he served as a member of the Board of Directors for Congregation B’nai Tzedek in Potomac, Maryland. Eric has served on the board of Credit Builders Alliance since 2016, and he was elected vice chair of that Board in 2022.

    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.

  • Justin HakesVice President, Communications and Public Affairs

    Justin Hakes is Vice President of Communications and Public Affairs at the Consumer Data Industry Association (CDIA), which represents the U.S. consumer reporting industry.

    Justin drives CDIA’s internal, external and member communications strategies. This includes developing and implementing public relations, advocacy and public policy campaigns to support CDIA’s vision for financial responsibility, inclusion and economic empowerment.

    Previously, Justin held leadership positions in communications at several leading trade organizations, including over a decade at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. His specialties include media relations, messaging, content development and digital campaigns on a diverse set of public policy issues.

    Justin’s accomplishments include supporting successful passage of landmark bipartisan federal legislation and serving as editor of an award-winning blog for public policy storytelling.

    He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and lives with his family in the Washington, DC area.

  • Betty ByrnesVice President for Finance and Operations

    Betty Byrnes is the Vice President for Finance and Operations 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, Kristine plays a vital part in the success of CDIA’s educational offerings and events. Under her leadership, CDIA has grown our Law and Industry Conference from an experiment to a successful and well recognized event. During the pandemic, she played an integral part in the transition from in-person to virtual meetings thus ensuring the continuity and success of our meetings and events.

    Prior to joining CDIA, Kristine worked as an event manager planning both social and corporate events including 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 with her husband and daughter in Newtown, Pennsylvania.

  • Ally ZimmelManager, Education Services

    Ally Zimmel joined the CDIA Education Services team as a consultant in March 2020 to support the team with her distinct experience in customer communications. Since October 2022, she serves as Manager, Education Services, and can be considered the backbone for all and any CDIA ES functionalities.

    A native Austrian, Ally previously has been active in the field of public relations and customers communications in Vienna/Austria. Having her professional roots in the educational field, Ally holds a degree in pedagogics, where she specialized in educating highly gifted children.

    Ally and her husband enjoy country living just outside the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex.