Ben is a native of San Francisco and a longtime activist for peace and justice, with a history of spiritual leadership, serving multiple congregations, across the Bay Area.
In 2008, Ben relocated his family to a difficult neighborhood in Oakland known as “The Kill Zone.” This positioned him to gain firsthand understanding in order to intelligently respond to the epidemic of gun violence.
During this tenure, he also served as Executive Director of Cityteam, a Christian non-profit providing rescue and recovery; medical and financial; educational and spiritual opportunities to hurting and homeless Oakland residents.
In 2012, Ben was an instrumental component in relaunching the first successful iteration of Operation Ceasefire: a data-driven, communication strategy to reduce gun violence. Operation Ceasefire’s strategy has contributed heavily to a near 40% reduction in homicides over the last four years.
As a result of Ben’s zeal for social improvement and judicial restructuring, Ben founded the Empower Initiative in 2014. Empower provides faith-based technical assistance concerning public safety and training for religious community members around the intersection of race and faith.
In late 2014, Ben became served the primary civilian trainer for the Oakland Police Department’s Procedural Justice & Police Legitimacy Course. Though the course is facilitated nationally, Ben is the sole community participant currently providing training and consultation to police departments around it's implementation, nationally. Ben is deeply committed to rebuilding the relationship between the community and police departments through reform and practice.
In June 2015, Ben joined the PICO California team and now serves as the Co-Director with a focus around formation and innovation. In December 2016, he launched the statewide project, Building Trust through Reform working on improving community-police relations through transforming practices and policies, informed by those at the highest risk.
Ben has received many honors, including the FRED Scholars Award; Oakland Natives Non-Profit Leader of the Year; the Oakland Police Foundation's Neighborhood Champion Award; and the ASIS Community Policing award. Ben authored his first book, Cry for Freedom, in 2006, and his current work, Crossing the Street, is slated for release in 2017.
Ben is an internationally sought after speaker and has shared his motivational message of peacemaking and transformation in Canada, the United Kingdom and the Middle East. He carries an inspiring message that resonates in religious and corporate communities alike. Ben’s core message of “Crossing the Street” incorporates a fusion of anecdotes and reflective principles, challenging leaders to bring conflicting parties together in a manner idealizing “the world as it should be.”
Ben and his wife Gynelle have been married for 17 years and they reside in Oakland, California with their three beautiful daughters.