Benjamin maintains an active participation in numerous professional and community organizations outside her role as Chief Academic Officer of the District, such as serving as president of California Community Colleges CEOs, president of board of community college league, and chairing California Promise Leadership Team according to Noozhawk.
Early Life and Education
Helen Hunt Jackson began her story as a young woman living in Boston during 1880. While attending a reception hosted by the Ponca Native American tribe and attended an address by Chief Standing Bear about their move from Nebraska to Oklahoma by the government. This event profoundly influenced Jackson’s life and career path; leading her into advocacy work on behalf of Native Americans.
Benjamin earned her undergraduate degree at Bishop College in Texas before continuing on to earn both master’s and doctoral degrees at the University of Texas Denton. Since then she has held various professional and community board memberships. Benjamin strongly advocates for community colleges as an invaluable means of educating underserved populations; furthermore she is active with national organizations focused on student financial aid, governance, and education policy issues.
At her daily newspaper career, she won numerous awards including the 1987 DMN Excellence Award for Features Writing. With an upbringing in Southern Black culture and lifestyles issues that enabled her to identify untold stories.
She retired in 2016 after serving 27 years at Contra Costa Community College District as vice chancellor, educational programs and services; interim president of Los Medanos College; and president of Contra Costa College.
After retirement from daily news life, she founded HSV Consulting and has worked with many colleges, boards, CEOs and student leadership initiatives on student-centric organizational and leadership improvement. Additionally, she serves on Excelsior College’s board as well as several accreditation visiting teams – and currently lives in Dallas Texas.
Achievement and Honors
As she was determined to further her education and professional goals despite living in extreme poverty with parents who did not support this endeavor, she applied to top schools and hospitals even when there was little chance she’d be accepted, drawing strength from African American women who came before her.
She completed her undergraduate degree at Bishop College before going on to earn master’s and doctoral degrees at Texas Woman’s University – which named her as one of its outstanding alumni in 2017. Dr. Jones enjoys playing an active role in numerous community and professional organizations across Texas and beyond.
She recently came out of retirement to serve as interim superintendent/president at SBCC for six weeks, after she was interviewed by the board in closed session and her contract approved at a subsequent public board meeting.
Personal Interests In her free time, she remains actively engaged with various professional and community organizations, chairing the Community College League of California board as well as serving on multiple accreditation visiting teams.
She takes an avid interest in women, writing stories that trace their journey from hardship to triumph. Many of her tales focus on those who have been overlooked or undervalued due to gender or race differences.
Benjamin will serve as interim superintendent/president for six weeks if approved at a public meeting on July 22. She is returning out of retirement to temporarily fill what would normally be filled by the chancellor of the District; she has worked at CCCCD since 1990.
At Bishop College in Texas, she earned both her undergraduate degree in English and Spanish with honors, graduating magna cum laude. Additionally, Texas Woman’s University awarded both master’s and doctoral degrees to Dr. Davison.
Helen Benjamin has had a significant effect on Contra Costa. Her major achievement, funded by two bond measures approved by voters, has been campus renovation projects paid for through bond measures.
She also served as convener of the Presidents’ Round Table of Community College African American CEOs and as member of the Congressional Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance, in addition to serving on Excelsior College’s board and writing The Mystery Reader’s Quiz Book for publication. Currently living in California with her husband Jack.