Brittany Hale (SASN ’09) learned early on about the impact of community service and local politics on our daily lives. As a student at Burlington Township High School, in Burlington, NJ, she was president of the Environmental Club, completed service projects as part of Key Club International, and took part in summer government and leadership workshops through American Legion’s Girls State program.
Hale, 32, never forgot those experiences. In fact, they have guided her scholastic, professional and civic work ever since, informing her studies at Rutgers University–Newark (Honors College, Political Science and History), propelling her to law school at Boston University, seeing her through various client-centered roles in corporate America, and helping her in 2016 to become the youngest woman of color to serve as a Board of Education Commissioner in Rahway, NJ, her current home, and the youngest woman appointed by the mayor to serve on the Rahway Redevelopment Agency.
Along the way, Hale was a founding member of the GEM Project, a nonprofit that provides community leadership opportunities and educational support for Newark youth, while still a SASN student herself, and recently became the youngest member of the SASN Dean’s Cabinet and was appointed to the Rutgers Alumni Leaders Council.
“Advocacy has been the through-line in my life,” said Hale. “My parents pushed me to go to medical school, but it was clear that my passion was in civic participation and community work.”
Hale’s professional trajectory reflects a willingness to explore, take risks, and think creatively about how to align her skills with that passion.
Emerging from law school amid a tough job market in 2012, rather than pursue the traditional law-firm route, she accepted a position as Securities Litigation Analyst at Bloomberg LP, advising subscriber firms on SEC regulatory issues. A year later she moved into an Account Executive role, advising firms on how to use the financial information within Bloomberg’s legal research platform to gain a competitive advantage in their industry.
“It was really a marketing-strategy and client-engagement job,” said Hale. “My goal was to show these firms how to get the most out of our subscription platform to increase their client base and bottom line, which meant reading between the lines, identifying the gap between the client’s stated and actual needs—their articulated vision and actual practice—and finding a way to help them.”
All decisions are driven by values, and acting on those values directly impacts company culture, which in turn determines their risk or exposure.
In 2016 one of her clients, Liberty Mutual Insurance Company, wooed Hale from Bloomberg to work as in-house counsel, defending the company and its policy holders against personal injury claims, malpractice suits and the like. In her three years there, she tried more than 15 cases in Hudson, Union and Middlesex County Superior Courts and successfully advocated for a client in the Appellate Division.
Jury selection was one of Hale’s favorite parts of trial work. She enjoyed the challenge of picking jurors from a diverse pool, then figuring out how to connect with them and how to connect them with her client, all while analyzing how they connected with each other. Almost immediately she noticed similarities between her courtroom and corporate-client work.
“I had to read between the lines and understand the gap between what jurors said and how they operated, and I soon realized, just like with my clients at Bloomberg, that this gap was almost always determined by their values,” said Hale. “So, understanding these dynamics was key to knowing how to interact with them for the benefit of my clients.”
Seeing that pattern early on while at Liberty Mutual got Hale thinking about companies, and how their cultures impacted their decision making. Then in 2017, one year into the job, a non-work friend approached her with a problem that she was having at her workplace. Hale suggested that she resolve the issue through her HR department, and when the friend said her small company had no such department, a light went on for Hale: She started thinking about how she could help companies develop a clear framework for decision making so they could align their operations with their values, develop effective leaders, retain talent, mitigate risk and increase their bottom line.
“What clicked for me was that companies are scaled-up juries: All decisions are driven by values, and acting on those values directly impacts company culture, which in turn determines their risk or exposure,” said Hale. “So, if you codify, clarify, elevate core values as an operational framework for decision making, that can lead to great results. Too many companies live in that gap between how they perceive themselves and how they actually operate, and that causes problems.”
Hale ended up approaching her friend’s company, revealed that they had a problem, and pitched herself as a consultant. They hired her. She helped the company as a side gig, then decided to start her own firm, BND Consulting. In June 2019, with three clients under her belt and more prospects on the horizon, Hale left Liberty Mutual to focus exclusively on building BND, while continuing her civic work for the town of Rahway. By the time the Covid-19 hit in March 2020, BND had seven clients and was going strong.
The pandemic, and the Black Lives Matters protests, have actually provided opportunity for Hale, as companies build remote-work operations and grapple with racial bias in the workplace. BND is helping clients with hiring, management training, HR support, operational-strategy revamps, employee-handbook drafting—and helping them scale up by creating structures and standards so they can operate effectively and avoid trouble. Hale is also offering monthly webinars to current and prospective clients all over the country to help drive business, and is looking to expand her staff in the next year.
“There’s opportunity in all types of adversity,” said Hale. “It’s a very challenging time—none of us had this on our radar—but now that we’re paused, it’s a great opportunity for companies to reflect on who they want to be to their employees and create stronger workplace cultures and operations. I’m passionate about this work and am fortunate to be doing it.”