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Esther T. Benjamin
Esther has been a global executive in the public, private, and civil society sectors for over 25 years. She has led programs in more than 100 countries worldwide.
Esther is currently CEO and Executive Director of World Education Services, Inc., a global social enterprise that evaluates and advocates for the recognition of international education qualifications.
Previously, Esther worked with Laureate Education, Inc., the global leader in providing access to high quality, innovative institutions of higher education. She was Laureate's CEO for Africa Operations and CEO of Monash South Africa, Laureate's first university in Sub-Saharan Africa, with nearly 4,000 students from every country in Africa. She then served as Laureate's SVP for Global Public Affairs and was integrally involved in Laureate becoming the largest certified B Corp in the world, and the first Public Benefit Corporation to IPO on any stock exchange globally.
Esther served in President Obama's Administration as Associate Director for Global Operations for the Peace Corps. She was a member of the U.S. Senior Foreign Service and a Presidential Appointee. She oversaw Peace Corps programs in nearly 80 countries. Following the 2008 elections, she served on the Obama-Biden Presidential Transition Team.
Esther also worked at the International Youth Foundation, as CFO, then as VP for Business Development, responsible for the development of global programs and partnerships in 75 countries. She was Executive Director for Resource Development at the International Partnership for Microbicides, a global biotechnology organization developing products for women in developing countries to protect themselves from HIV. She mobilized funding support from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, the governments of the United States, Canada, and ten European donor countries.
In 1999, President Clinton appointed Esther as a White House Fellow. In this capacity, she worked with Secretary of Labor Alexis Herman on international policies and programs. She received the White House Fellows Foundation and Association's IMPACT Award in 2013, which recognizes the remarkable achievement and transformational contribution of a White House Fellow to society and to their professional field within 15 years of their Fellowship year.
In 1994, Esther was appointed United Nations Humanitarian Affairs Officer, responsible for coordinating humanitarian aid in Somalia. She worked with the World Bank History Project on the Brookings Institution's 1997 publication entitled The World Bank: Its First Half Century. She has additional private sector experience in management consulting with Grant Thornton and with Arthur Andersen.
Esther serves on the Board of Directors of Echoing Green, Seed Global Health, and the Foundation for Society, Law & Art in South Africa, as well as the Advisory Board of Game Denmark. She was a Fellow with the U.S.-Japan Foundation and the U.S.- Southern Africa Center for Leadership and Public Values. She participated in Asia Society's Asia 21 Initiative for young leaders in the U.S. and Asia, and the Remarque Forum for young leaders in the U.S. and Europe. She was a Council on Foreign Relations Term Member.
Esther earned master's degrees from American University in International Affairs and Applied Economics. In 2009, she was awarded American University's Cyrus Ansary Medal, the highest university honor for public service, as well as the Outstanding Alumna Award by the School of International Service, where she serves on the Board of Advisors.
She is a Trustee of North Central College, where she was a College Scholar and earned her bachelor's degree in Political Science and English. North Central College awarded her the 2011 Outstanding Alumna Award and the 2000 Outstanding Alumna Recognition Award .
New York Times best-selling author Wes Moore profiled Esther as "The Globalist" in his book entitled, The Work: My Search for a Life that Matters.