Brian A. Benjamin is the New York State Senator for District 30, which encompasses Harlem, East Harlem, and the Upper West Side. He was born in Harlem to Caribbean immigrants who came to this country seeking new opportunities. Though they didn’t have a college education, his parents were fortunate enough to find well-paying union jobs, which allowed them to provide Brian and his siblings with a middle class upbringing. After graduating from high school in New York City, Brian sought the quality education his parents had dreamed of providing him with, earning his undergraduate degree in Public Policy from Brown University and his MBA from Harvard Business School.
Brian returned to Harlem to build affordable housing, creating over a thousand units of environmentally sustainable, affordable housing at an M/WBE while helping young people develop work skills and secure good construction jobs through community youth programs.
Brian is heavily involved in his community, having served as Chair of Community Board 10 and the Land Use Committee, a position he used to preserve the character of our community and help keep Harlem affordable. He helped countless young people at Harlem’s Wadleigh High School achieve a brighter future since launching a mentoring program in 2013, and he is honored to serve as an alumni-elected trustee of Brown University. In addition to his work in the community, Brian has long been active in progressive politics, serving as a 2012 delegate for President Barack Obama and as a member of President Obama’s National Finance Committee. He also worked in finance, served as the Richmond Field Director in Terry McAuliffe’s gubernatorial campaign, and interned in the office of Bill Lynch & Associates. Brian is an active member of Harlem’s historic First Corinthian Baptist Church.
In the New York State Senate, Brian has distinguished himself as a leader in criminal justice reform and affordable housing, sponsoring bills to close Rikers Island, divest the New York State Public Pension Fund from private prisons, and keep rent controlled apartments affordable. He serves as the chair of the Budget and Revenue committee, and as Senior Assistant Majority Leader.
After graduating from business school, Brian wanted to return to the neighborhood that gave his family a start in life over 40 years ago. It was Harlem Hospital that opened its doors to his pregnant mother without health insurance years ago, and while it’s a coincidence that Brian can see that same hospital from his office window in Harlem, it is purposeful that Brian looks to give back to New York as much as it has given to him.