LBJ Alumnus Erine Gray (MPAff '04) has dedicated his career to advocating for the underserved. He is the founder and CEO of Aunt Bertha, a public benefit corporation that uses technology to make it easier for anyone with a need to access social service programs available locally in their communities.
Gray understands the difference that social service programs can make; he was born in public housing and his family occasionally relied on food stamps. As an adult, he became his disabled mother's legal guardian and came to learn how hard it was to help someone who had a disability.
It was this experience that led Gray to create Aunt Bertha, the largest social care network in the country, with over 550,000 program locations and at least 1,300 vetted listings accessible to people in need in every single county in America. As a public benefit corporation, Aunt Bertha is a for-profit entity with a social service mission. It now works with hundreds of institutional customers across the nation as it also builds findhelp.org, a free tool that has connected more than 7 million people across the country with the social care help they need — such as food, housing, goods, transit, heath, money, care, education, work and legal assistance resources.
"The LBJ School was transformative for me. I learned so much and my classmates are some of my best friends to this day. LBJ's legacy, the professors, and the projects I worked on while in grad school gave me the confidence to tackle these important problems." —Erine Gray (MPAff '04)
"Social determinants of health" — conditions in the places where people live, learn, work and play that affect a wide range of health and quality of life risks and outcomes — are understood as critical to our health, well-being and ability to regain independence.
Beyond the creation of findhelp, Gray is advocating for interoperability across web-based social care networks used by providers. Interoperability would allow these different systems to work together and provide the best recommendations for a patient's needs.
In June, Gray was asked to testify before a Congressional roundtable on ending hunger in America, where he shared how his organization uses technology to combat hunger and provide access to other social services across the U.S.
"The LBJ School was transformative for me. I learned so much and my classmates are some of my best friends to this day," Gray said. "LBJ's legacy, the professors, and the projects I worked on while in grad school gave me the confidence to tackle these important problems."