Ben is a native of San Francisco and a longtime activist for peace and justice in the Bay Area.
In 2008, he relocated his family to a difficult neighborhood in Oakland called the “Kill Zone” to understand and respond to the epidemic of gun violence firsthand. During this time, he served as Executive Director of a large nonprofit providing rescue, recovery, medical, financial and educational opportunities to hurting and homeless people in Oakland for 7 years.
In 2012, Ben was an instrumental component of relaunching Oakland’s first successful iteration of Operation Ceasefire. This strategy has contributed heavily to a near 40 percent reduction in homicides over the last five years.
Ben founded Empower Initiative in 2014 to provide technical assistance around transforming public safety through bridge-building. Over the last 3 years, he trained over 100 departments and law enforcement executives, while in partnership with California’s Department of Justice. Ben joined PICO California in 2015, the state’s largest community organizing network, and currently serves as the Co-Director. He founded the Trust through Reform Project, a statewide initiative in 14 cities, to address the community-police relationship while serving as the Co-Chair for the Department of Justice’s Racial & Identity Profiling Advisory Board.
Ben is deeply committed to widening the circle of human concern leading to a more vibrant, inclusive society. He and his wife Gynelle have been married for 19 years and have 3 daughters. They reside in Oakland, CA.