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A promising political future: Dennis Benzan


Born in Cambridge, Massachusetts to hardworking parents, Dennis Benzan learned early the importance of education and civic responsibilities. Inspired by his elders, and by the many challenges facing his neighborhood, Dennis dedicated himself to community work from a young age. In high school, he organized his peers against youth violence following the senseless murder of two classmates. Dennis was an assistant director for Area IV Youth Center, the head of YWCA’s Summer Program, and the youngest director of Cambridge’s Mayor Summer Youth Employment Program, which provided jobs for over 700 young people. He later worked at the Algebra Project as a community organizer helping underserved children of color access a proper education and increasing the number of students entering high school with adequate math and science preparation.

He graduated from Howard University where he interned for the offices of U.S. Congressmen Jose Serrano and Dale Kildee and with the House of Representative’s Subcommittee on Elementary, Secondary and Vocational Education. Upon returning home to Cambridge, Dennis started his own construction company in order to finance his dream of law school but also to give jobs to many deserving community members. At the age of 24, Dennis ran for State Representative in Cambridge’s 28th Middlesex district and nearly succeeded in unseating an incumbent; his was a disciplined grassroots campaign that energized the electorate and through a spirited voter registration drive mobilized one of the largest voter turn-outs in the history of the city.

Dennis received a degree from Roger Williams University School of Law, and since 2008 has been an associate with the Cambridge law firm of Altman & Altman, LLP building a thriving family law and real estate practice. During this time, he has continued his strong commitment to helping others, working with high school students, church groups and small business-owners, and consistently providing legal and pro bono services to indigent clients confronted with foreclosure, bank fraud, domestic violence, and employment discrimination.

Dennis has been with his wife Tanya for 20 years; she is an assistant principal at Kelly Elementary School in Chelsea, Massachusetts and they have two beautiful children, India and Matteo.

“Unlike many of my opponents I am not a career politician. I am an “Everyday Leader” like many of you. Just like the police-officer, firefighter, carpenter, nurse, the mom and dad – the people in our district that do the “little bit extra” to make our society better. Every day of my existence I have strived to make my life, the life of my family, and the lives of my neighbors better – this is who I am, and this is what I’m about.”

Dennis is currently running in the special State Senate election for Middlesex, Suffolk and Essex districts which represent, Allston/Brighton, Cambridge, Charlestown, Chelsea, Everett, Revere and Saugus in Massachusetts. The election is will be on Tuesday, April 13, 2010.

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About Adriana Villavicencio

Dr. Adriana Villavicencio is the youngest child of Ecuadorian immigrants. She has moved 29 times in her life, taking her on a journey from California to Bangalore, India, and New York City, where she recently earned a Ph.D. in Education Leadership and works as a Research Associate at New York University. An avid traveler, Adriana has collected experiences in four different continents and 16 different countries. But as a former high school English teacher, some of her fondest memories are those of her brilliant and brilliantly funny students in Brooklyn and Oakland. Adriana has contributed to several publications including the Daily News and, and is a managing editor for the Journal of Equity in Education. She earned a B.A. in English and an M.A. in English Education at Columbia University, and currently serves on the board of Columbia’s Latino Alumni Association (LAACU). She enjoys scary movies with red vines, Sauvignon Blanc, and her Maltese dog, Napoleon.

To learn more about Adriana’s education consulting company, please visit

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and should not be understood to be shared by Being Latino, Inc.

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