Jocelyn Benson - Unrig Summit: Nashville

Jocelyn Benson

Jocelyn Benson

Jocelyn Benson

Secretary of State, Michigan |

Jocelyn Benson was sworn in as Michigan’s 43rd secretary of state Jan. 1, 2019, after being elected Nov. 6, 2018, to a four-year term. Her focus for the Department of State is customer-service excellence, innovation, integrity and transparency, ensuring that all citizens have equal access to the participation necessary to sustain our democracy. A national leader in election law, she is the author of State Secretaries of State: Guardians of the Democratic Process. It is the first major book on the role of the secretary of state in enforcing election and campaign finance laws.

An expert on civil rights law, education law and election law, Benson served as dean of Wayne State University Law School in Detroit. When she was appointed dean at age 36, she became the youngest woman in U.S. history to lead a top-100, accredited law school. She continues to serve as vice chair of the advisory board for the Levin Center at Wayne Law, which she founded with former U.S. Sen. Carl Levin. She served as director of the center from fall 2016 until August 2017. Previously, Benson was an associate professor and associate director of Wayne Law’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights.

Prior to her election, she served as CEO of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality (RISE), a national nonprofit organization using the unifying power of sports to improve race relations. She continues to serve on the RISE Board of Directors and as co-chair of the RISE to Vote initiative, a nonpartisan effort to register professional and college athletes to vote and encourage them to lead their fans in becoming informed and engaged citizens.

Benson is the founder of the nonpartisan Michigan Center for Election Law, which hosts projects that support transparency and integrity in elections, and co-founder and former president of Military Spouses of Michigan, a network dedicated to providing support and services to military spouses and their children. She serves on the Board of Directors for the Southern Poverty Law Center, where she began her career investigating hate groups and hate crimes throughout the nation. In 2015, Benson became one of the youngest women in history to be inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.

She earned a bachelor of arts from Wellesley College, master of philosophy from Oxford University and law degree from Harvard Law School.

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