Ellen J. Benjamin earned her Masters in Social Work at The University of Michigan and PhD in Social Service Administration at The University of Chicago. For more than 35 years she has been involved in advocacy work on social causes, having served as an employee, co-founder and trustee of nonprofit organizations such as The American Friends Service Committee, The Midwest Women’s Center, ACLU and Amnesty International USA. She currently serves on the boards of Planned Parenthood, Personal PAC and as Co-Chair of The Chicago Foundation for Women's Alumni Council. She directed two philanthropic institutions within Chicago (the Borg-Warner Corporate Foundation and The Mayer and Morris Kaplan Family Foundation) and focuses her teaching and publications on nonprofit management and philanthropy. Awards received in recognition of these activities include the National Society of Professional Fundraisers’ Professional Grantor’s Award and DePaul University’s Excellence in Public Service Award.
During the 1998/99 academic year, she taught courses on nonprofit management and women’s studies as a Visiting Scholar
in Turkey through the sponsorship of the US State Department’s Fulbright Commission. In 2003, Dr. Benjamin spent a semester abroad, again with Fulbright sponsorship, joining the social work faculty at Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj, Romania. During 2008, as a Fulbright Senior Specialist, she taught classes on nonprofit governance, fundraising, social work ethics and research methodology in Ulaan Baatar within Mongolian State University of Education’s Social Work Department. In 2013 the National Association of Social Workers named Dr. Benjamin Social Worker of the Year.