Dean of Counseling and Retention Brenda Johnson Benson has been named Santa Monica College’s 2013 Manager of the Year.
In her nearly 30 years at the college Benson has provided support services to students such as helping with transfers to four-year universities and assisting veteran students.
“Brenda personifies the best of Santa Monica College, combining a nurturing and supportive management style with a push for constant improvement and innovation. She is truly an outstanding manager,” said SMC President Dr. Chui L. Tsang.
Benson, a Westchester resident, began working at SMC as an intern as a graduate student in the School of Education at UCLA. She moved up the ranks at SMC from intern to counselor to coordinator/assistant dean of transfer services, a position she held for 10 years from 1988 to 1998.
According to SMC officials, it was in this capacity and with her leadership that, in 1989, SMC first distinguished itself as the leader in transfers, sending more students to the University of California system than any other community college in the state.
“Brenda is a strong and unyielding advocate for her students, colleagues and the community college mission,” said SMC Transfer Center faculty leader Dan Nannini, “She is an educator for the educators and, for this, she is held in the highest regard.”
In 1998, Benson was promoted to her current position, dean of counseling and retention, where her focus shifted to developing strategies that would support SMC to both retain students until graduation and to support them with tools needed to succeed both during and after their time at SMC.
She also oversees 10 specialized counseling programs that serve veterans and other underrepresented student populations. Benson is currently near the end of a one-year term as president of the SMC Management Association.