Fighting for working families and healthier neighborhoods
Benjamín was born to working class parents and grew up in Santa Ana. His father was a labor union construction worker, and his mother owned the Jasmine Beauty Salon. Benjamín received his undergraduate degree from CSU Long Beach and his master’s from UCLA. Benjamín is proud to work side by side with his four siblings and niece as educators at Santa Ana Unified School District. Giving back to Santa Ana youth and community is a shared family goal.
Benjamín teaches at Valley High School, his alma mater, where he started the Ethnic Studies program, the first-ever at this school and one of the firsts in all of Orange County. He organized the first annual Ethnic Studies Conference for SAUSD. Benjamín’s work in both Mexican American and Ethnic Studies earned him the McCarthey Dressman Foundation Award and Ethnic Studies Teacher of the Year from Chapman University.
For more than 15 years, Benjamín, along with an army of volunteers, produced Noche de Altares, a Day of the Dead Festival that draws over 40,000 attendees in a single day. He is founder and organizer of the Children’s March as part of día del niño, celebrating children and recognizing their importance in society.
As Chair of the Board of Directors, Benjamín led the effort to purchase the building that now houses El Centro Cultural de México, a talent and project incubator for the city, county, and beyond. He is also founder of I Bike Santa Ana, promoting health and community connection through cycling; was director of Barrio Writers, a young writers workshop for teens in underserved communities; and co-founder of Taco Trucks at Every Mosque, bringing Muslims and Latinxs together through food and conversation.
Through Cooperative Campaigns, Benjamín has supported a slate of change makers to run and win elections at the school district and city council levels, including the mayoral seat.
He is the proud owner of a craftsman home in Heninger Park, where he grows tomatoes and chiles.