Benson named 2017 'Leader of the Year'

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The Joyce Ivy Foundation, a non-profit organization dedicated to the academic advancement of talented female high school students from the Midwest, announced Monday that Jocelyn Benson will serve as the 2017 Joyce Ivy Foundation Leader of the Year.

The Joyce Ivy Foundation is the leading provider of summer academic scholarships for talented female high school students from the Midwest. Selected Scholars participate in programs at Joyce Ivy partner institutions, including some of the nation’s most rigorous colleges and universities: Harvard, Stanford, Brown, Yale, MIT, Johns Hopkins, Emory, Cornell, Barnard, Smith, and Washington University in St. Louis.
Each year, the Joyce Ivy Foundation names a Leader of the Year who exemplifies the experiences and values that it promotes, and celebrates this leader together with the group of selected summer scholars at its spring gala.

Benson serves as chief executive officer of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equity (RISE), a nonprofit organization founded by Stephen M. Ross that is dedicated to harnessing the unifying power of sports to improve race relations and drive social progress. Prior to leading RISE, Benson served as the dean of Wayne State University Law School. When Benson was appointed dean of Wayne Law at age 35, she became the youngest woman in U.S. history to run a top-100 accredited law school.

 Benson joined the Wayne Law faculty in 2005. Her areas of expertise include civil rights law, education law, and election law, and she taught courses including Legislative Oversight, Race and the Law, and Sports and Inequality. Benson continues to serve as director of the Levin Center at Wayne Law and previously served as associate director of the law school’s Damon J. Keith Center for Civil Rights where she created the Michigan Allies Project, an effort designed to track hate incidents throughout Michigan and provide legal support for victims.

 “Each year we have the chance to honor a female leader who has achieved notable success and earned broad respect in her field,” said S. Caroline Kerr, chief executive officer of the Joyce Ivy Foundation. “We seek out leaders who embody risk-taking, embark on interesting educational and professional paths, and seek to lift up others. I am excited that we are honoring Jocelyn. Her achievements are remarkable and she will be an inspiring leader for the Scholars to hear from. Beyond her success, Jocelyn’s commitment to service and mentoring other young leaders, particularly women, stood out to the selection committee.”

In 2010, Benson was the Democratic Party’s nominee for Michigan Secretary of State and is author of “State Secretaries of State: Guardians of the Democratic Process.” Benson is co-founder of the Military Spouses of Michigan and board member of the Southern Poverty Law Center. A celebrated leader, Benson became one of the youngest women in history to be inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame, and in June 2016 she was named one of Crain’s 100 Most Influential Women in Michigan.

“I am honored to be named Joyce Ivy’s 2017 Leader of the Year,” said Benson. “Lifting up and empowering female high school students – our leaders of tomorrow – is more essential today than ever before. I look forward to sharing my story with the Joyce Ivy Scholars and seeing the great things they go on to do in the future to serve our country.”

Benson is a graduate of Wellesley College. She received her Master of Philosophy degree from Oxford University and her J.D. from Harvard Law School.

Benson will be honored at the 12th Annual Joyce Ivy Foundation Summer Scholars Gala Dinner, to be held at the Marriott Eagle Crest in Ypsilanti on May 6, and will address the 2017 group of Summer Scholars as they prepare for their summer program participation.

Past Joyce Ivy Foundation Leader of the Year Award recipients include Susan L. Blount, executive vice president and general counsel of Prudential (retired) (2016); Valerie J. M. Brader, executive director of the Michigan Agency for Energy (2015); Lisa A. Payne, vice chairman and chief financial officer of Taubman Centers, Inc. (2014); Lucy Clark Dougherty, vice president and general counsel of General Motors North America (2013); Deanna Mulligan, CEO of Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (2012); Kim Schatzel, dean of the University of Michigan - Dearborn College of Business (2011); and Anne Hiller, vice president of marketing, The 41st Parameter (2010).

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