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30 Best CEOs of the Year 2021

‘We are committed to inspire and empower individuals with developmental disabilities and those who support them,’ says Daniel A. Etra, CEO of Rethink


People caring for special needs children are trained to adapt various traditional practices to kids who learn things differently from the vast majority. Such caretakers are more in demand and respected than ever but significant shortages of these individuals remain in the market. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), 1 in 6 newborn children will be diagnosed with a developmental disability (such as a=Autism), making such conditions more common than pediatric cancer, diabetes, and AIDS combined. Applied Behavior Analysis (ABA) is the main treatment methodology recommended by the American Academy of Pediatrics, the US Surgeon General, and the US National Institutes of Mental Health for treating individuals with developmental disabilities such as Autism. However, the highly limited availability of credentialed ABA providers - only approximately 30,000 Board Certified Behavior Therapists worldwide - severely limits its potential benefit for the hundreds of millions of individuals globally with such disorders. Limited public support services, including in the education and healthcare systems, further amplify this challenge.

Rethink was founded with a mission to address the significant challenge of how to effectively and affordably meet the treatment needs of this enormous and growing population worldwide with a significant dearth of trained professionals. The Company determined that the only way to deliver clinical best practice treatment in a scalable way was to leverage technology to train whoever was caring for the individual with the developmental disability on how to deliver the treatment. This would impact all the entities revolving around this population’s care, including in the school, home, and healthcare system. Rethink found extensive research on the effectiveness of video modeling for training in fields such as medicine and the military and decided to combine this proven method of instruction with the proven and medically-recommended ABA treatment methodology, creating an online training and support system for individuals with a developmental disability and their caregivers worldwide. Rethink was founded in 2007, and it is based in NYC, New York.

In conversation with Daniel A. Etra, CEO of Rethink First

Q. What is Rethink Behavioral Health? What are the features and benefits your clients gain out of this?

Rethink offers the industry-leading practice management platform for behavioral health providers specializing in individuals with Autism and related disorders. Used by hundreds of providers serving tens of thousands of children nationwide, the software helps improve treatment outcomes by simplifying/automating work flows, improving staff training, and ensuring standardization and clinical fidelity of care delivery.

Q. How is your Employee Benefits and Rethink Ed solution enabling a much swifter and intuitive experience to your clients?

Employee Benefits – Rethink offers the industry-leading training and support platform for employees caring for dependents with a developmental disability. Rethink’s clients range from employers with under 1000 employees to over 500,000 employees, and across its book of business Rethink covers over 7 million lives. Research clearly demonstrates the impact of caring for a dependent with a developmental disability – from over twice the rates of anxiety and depression to thousands of dollars annually in lost productivity. Indeed, over half of caregivers work fewer hours or leave the workforce to accommodate the needs of their child. The Rethink program helps support these employees, directly impacting their productivity in the workplace, and helps employers create a culture of wellness for their entire workforce.

Rethink Ed – Rethink offers the industry-leading special needs management platform for public school districts. Serving all students with a special need as well as those requiring behavior support, the Rethink program is used by hundreds of districts in all 50 states, ranging from large urban systems like New York City, San Francisco, Dallas, Denver and others, down to small rural districts. The Rethink program allows districts to fully meet Federal IDEA requirements as well as a variety of state-based legislative mandates to provide an adequate education to students with a special need. The program also helps districts train staff and accurately measure the progress of a student population not subject to mainstream standardized testing. District clients have reported superior student outcomes and significant cost savings in mitigating the need for out of district placements than can run up to $100,000 per year per student for private programs.

Q. What does innovation mean at Rethink? Kindly walk us through your innovation lab.

Innovation to us means first and foremost recognizing the problem in the market that we are seeking to address and truly understanding the needs of the customer before developing unique and scalable solutions to address those needs. In our case, the problem we are solving is the exploding population with a developmental disability and a severe shortage of trained clinicians available to serve them. In addition, the Rethink platform, while robust and best-practice, is both web-based and incredibly easy to use, driving scale and rapid adoption.

Q. Kindly walk us through the work culture at Rethink. How does the work culture translate to your clients?

Rethink is unique in the marketplace by offering a scalable and fully integrated solution to addressing the needs of individuals with a developmental disability and their caregivers. Rethink’s employees share a deep passion for having a social impact and drive continuous innovation in the products that Rethink offers.

Q. What is the roadmap ahead? What other additions or sophistications you would envision or currently working on to strengthen your solution set in the coming days?

We are in the process of expanding our core product offering beyond treatment tools and supports for dependents with a developmental disability and their caregivers to adults with a developmental disability, including supporting those individuals with a Neurodiverse condition in the workplace.

Q. Would you like to share something with our readers?

Despite what many may think, building a successful company does not happen overnight. There is the expression “the 10-year overnight success.” This is particularly true for entrepreneurs and successful ones need to be willing to pivot their business strategy to respond to changing market conditions as well as to have the patience to play the long game and be willing and able to move the ball down the field a little bit each and every day

Rethink aims to provide families, educators and behavior healthcare providers affordable, best practice treatment solutions for individuals with special needs.”