Benita Benavides (she/they)
As a public servant motivated by labor empowerment, Benita recognized something was missing, hindering them from effectively building more inclusive communities. They knew something needed to change.
When Benita found National Urban Fellows, they were thrust into a space they’d never seen coming.
While placed at the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, Benita gained perspective on how equity is achieved in large organizations when it is named and identified as a broad ambition, then embedded in organizational culture and then baked into program-design and grantmaking.
The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation was at the cusp of investigating how an organization that functioned to supply funding would reallocate resources in pursuit of equity, when it still felt ambiguous in the philanthropic space.
Their experience as a National Urban Fellow taught Benita to critically evaluate the power structures surrounding the relationship between the organization they represent and the people they are serving. Being deliberate in distributing that power towards equitable solutions centering those community’s needs.
“I am a proponent that representation matters,” declares Benita.
“We’re bringing perspective representing the needs of the communities that we come from. For me as an immigrant, as a Filipino, one of the best things that came out of NUF for me is that it has allowed me to be best present in the spaces I’m in without changing the way I am.”
Learn more about the National Urban Fellows program and how you can be involved by visiting www.nuf.org.