From her early years investigating hate groups, to overseeing the most accessible and secure election in Michigan history, Jocelyn Benson has defied preconceived notions of what is possible in public service. That is particularly true when it comes to protecting election results from ‘deniers’ and defending American democracy.
Committed to the nonpartisan operation of the Secretary of State’s Office, Jocelyn has transformed its operations to provide faster and more convenient service for every Michigander. She has done this while ensuring that elections are free, fair, secure and accurate, and fighting to protect voting rights for all Michigan voters whether Republicans, Democrats or Independents.
Jocelyn is the daughter of two special education teachers and was raised in a working class family. She began redefining norms and challenging expectations as a student at Wellesley College, where she was the first college student to be elected to the governing body for the town of Wellesley, Massachusetts. After college she moved to Alabama to investigate undercover domestic terrorist cells that had emerged following the Oklahoma City bombing. That work led her to the United Kingdom where as a Marshall Scholar at Oxford University, she studied the international links of modern, white supremacist and neo-Nazi movements.
At 35 she was appointed dean of Wayne State University Law School, becoming the youngest woman to lead an accredited top 100 law school in United States history. Benson later led a coalition of all major sports leagues, including the NFL, NBA and MLB, to empower athletes to advance equality and improve race relations in America. In 2015 she became one of the youngest women to be inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame, second in age only to Serena Williams who was born in Saginaw.
A long-distance runner, Benson has completed 25 marathons and is one of a handful of women to have completed the Boston Marathon while more than eight months pregnant.
Jocelyn Benson has drastically improved operations at the Secretary of State’s Office and overseen the highest turnout and most secure election in Michigan history. She is committed to ensuring the Secretary of State’s Office operates above partisanship and provides free and fair elections for Republicans, Democrats and Independents.
A national recognized expert in election law, Secretary Benson is author of Secretaries of State: Guardians of the Democratic Process, a book on the role secretaries play in defending democracy. Prior to her election, she served as CEO and president of a national nonprofit that used the unifying power of sports to improve race relations. That experience has proven invaluable as chair of Michigan’s Task Force on Women in Sports, which was established by Governor Whitmer to advance opportunities for Michigan women as athletes and sports leaders.
A graduate of Wellesley College, Harvard Law School and Oxford University, Jocelyn is an expert on laws covering civil rights, education and elections. She is the former dean of Wayne State University Law School, where during her tenure it became a top-100 accredited law school. She is one of the youngest women ever to be inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame.
Since assuming her role as Michigan’s chief motor vehicle administrator and the state’s chief election officer, Jocelyn has been recognized for her work.
She is a recipient of the 2022 Profile in Courage award from the John F. Kennedy Library Foundation, the Defenders of Democracy award from the Center for Election Innovation and Research and most recently, was is serving in a leadership position with the National Association of Secretaries of State (NASS), the nation’s oldest, nonpartisan professional organization for public officials.