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Biography and Booking information

{Michael Benitez Jr. }
Scholar & Speaker on Empowerment, Leadership and Education
Michael Benitez is a national social justice educator and activist-scholar with extensive experience in education and campus diversity issues. He is known for his down-to-earth insightful commentary and critical perspectives on social and cultural issues.

Benitez integrates multifaceted pedagogies, scholarly inquiry, and personal experience to provide multi-context and -issue frameworks for empowerment and transformation. He has served higher education in different capacities for the last fifteen years, including academic affairs, student affairs, diversity and inclusion, and teaching.

A highly sought out speaker and workshop leader at conferences and colleges across the nation, Benitez has authored book chapters and articles on topics of identity, cultural centers, ethnic studies, pedagogy, and hip hop culture. He often collaborates with leading scholars and activists in the field of anti-oppression and social justice education addressing issues related to diversity and multiculturalism, identity formations, race and ethnic relations, knowledge representation and production, youth and leadership development, and pedagogy and praxis.

Benitez  is co-editor of the anthology, Crash Course: Reflections on the Film “Crash” for Critical Dialogues About Race, Power and Privilege, a collection of essays by some of the country’s most prominent anti-racism writers, scholars and activists. He has also contributed to Being Latino On-Line Magazine (2009), the American Mosaic Online Database (2012), Culture Centers in Higher Education: Perspectives on Identity, Theory, and Practice (2010), and is featured in Cracking the Codes: The System of Racial Inequity (2012), a documentary film that examines systemic inequity and racial inequity in U.S. history, culture and identity.

Benitez completed both his Bachelor and Master degrees at the Pennsylvania State University (PSU) where he also worked with and helped revive and strengthen the University’s College Assistance Migrant Program.

Throughout his career, he has been recognized with several leadership awards as he has served in increasingly broad and challenging roles. As Director of Diversity Initiatives and Social Justice at Dickinson College, he established the “Diversity Monologues,” an ongoing annual program aimed at highlighting the creative talents of students while addressing diversity and social justice-  a program he has helped implement and shape at multiple institutions.

Benitez served as Director of Intercultural Development and the Black Cultural Center at Lafayette College, as adjunct faculty in the Graduate School of Leadership and Professional Advancement at Duquesne University, and as Director of Intercultural Engagement and Leadership at Grinnell College.

Currently, he is Dean of Diversity and Inclusion and Chief Diversity Officer at the University of Puget Sound is a doctoral candidate in educational leadership and policy studies at Iowa State University.

“Michael is one of the most brilliant and engaging people that I have had the privilege to meet and hear speak. His wide-ranging interpersonal skills allow him to communicate complex ideas in a way that takes into consideration the needs and backgrounds of his audiences."
- Warren Blumenfeld, assistant professor in curriculum and instruction at Iowa State University and co-editor of Investigating Christian Privilege and Religious Oppression in the United States
"He can speak heart-to-heart and bridge high theory with everyday life.He is easily at home with both intellectual and hip-hop culture, and he can take on issues by using accessible language that multiple audiences can relate to and work with.”
- Dr. Laura Rendón, Prominent scholar and author of Sentipensante (Sensing/Thinking)Pedagogy: Educating for Wholeness, Social Justice, and Liberation
"Your presentation on redefining activism was an experience that I hope to carry with me for a long time to come. Your passion was felt throughout the entire room as you unloaded your knowledge and wisdom...thank you for being an inspiration."
- John W. Howie, Multi-Cultural Recruitment Team; President, Black Student Union; Vice President, Penn State University Harrisburg PA
“You are certainly making a difference with your work. Any chance I get I recommend you to other people. Your words were inspiring and I'm glad we have a young brother out there making it happen and motivating our young people.”
- Anilsa Nunez, Assistant Dean of Student Life/Director of Residence Life, St. John’s University, Staten Island NY

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