Helen Benjamin, PhD

Helen Benjamin

Helen Benjamin received two degrees from Texas Woman’s University: a Master of Education in Supervision and Reading in 1977 and a Ph. D. in English with a concentration in Rhetoric in 1989. She earned her undergraduate degree, a Bachelor of Science in English, from Bishop College, Dallas, TX. 

Her distinguished career in education began as a classroom teacher in Dallas, Texas. In 2016, capping off a 44 year career in secondary and higher education, Dr. Benjamin retired as Chancellor of the Contra Costa Community College District,  located in the San Francisco Bay area. Dr. Benjamin was the first African-American and first woman to serve in a permanent role as chancellor of the Contra Costa Community College District, a position she held for over 11 years. The District serves more than 53,000 students and maintains a $200M operating budget. 

Dr. Benjamin maintains an active role in a variety of professional and community organizations, many committed to increasing opportunities for students of color and increasing access to education for economically disadvantaged individuals. She worked tirelessly for the improvement of community and junior colleges and served as president of the California Community Colleges CEOs, as president of the board of the Community College League of California and as chair of the California Promise Leadership Team. She holds the distinction of being the first community college representative appointed by Congress to the Advisory Committee on Student Financial Assistance. Dr. Benjamin served with distinction as convener of the Presidents’ Round Table of Community College African American CEOs and on the Board of Directors of the American Association of Community Colleges.  

Known as a champion for student success, Dr. Benjamin has written on the topic, delivered many presentations, and acknowledged for her efforts.  With Darroch Young, she is co-author of Harvest from the Vineyard: Lessons Learned from the Vineyard Symposiums (2016) and a contributor to the Chocolate Truth: An Anthology of Perspectives from Community College CEO’s (2012). She believes in mentoring others and was named the 2014 Mentor of the Year by the National Council on Black American Affairs. She was among 20 community college CEOS from throughout the country to participate in the first White House Summit on community colleges held by President Barack Obama.