Jasmin Benab: A Journey From Community to Local Government

Jasmin Benab motivates change throughout the Ward 4 area as a public servant for more than a decade. Benab began her career as a program coordinator for a youth center and has been an active role model in her community ever since.

Benab’s journey to her current career working in the government has humble beginnings, tracing back to the work she has done in her community.

Benab worked as a program coordinator for the Girls Youth Leadership Program at the Latin American Youth Center in Columbia Heights.

“I worked in the community for several years in Ward 1 and 4, so I did a lot of work around youth violence prevention and intervention,” said Benab.

The leadership program, aimed at young adults at risk of gang involvement, provides students with information on issues such as domestic violence and gang violence through various activities such as dance and theater.

25-year-old Brenda Aviles, who began attending the leadership program in 2007, told the Washington Post that the program manages to “show girls there’s somewhere they can go to besides doing nothing or being on the streets.”

Current program manager for the CSC Youth Violence Intervention team and Benab’s former student, Yamileth Escobar, says that Benab has been a significant influence on her.

“[Benab] molded me into a smart, strong, independent and positive leader by supporting me head on and changing the way I view a lot of things in my life,” says Escobar.

“I am now following her footsteps and hope to impact as many young girls and boys that Jasmin did and work my way up to the top like she did.”

The Girls Youth Leadership Program is one of the many programs that Benab has contributed to alleviate the rise of gang violence that peaked in the Shaw, Columbia Heights, and Petworth neighborhoods between 1999 and 2003.

It was not long before Benab’s work was recognized by D.C. Mayor Bowser (D). In 2015, she was appointed as a Ward 4 liaison for the Mayor’s Office of Community Relations and Services (MOCRS).

“[Benab]’s work within the community did not go unnoticed by our administration,” stated Bowser’s Deputy Press Secretary Susana Castillo. “[Mayor Bowser] supported many of [Benab]’s prior efforts with the community, such as community block parties with the center.”

Despite having no prior aspiration of working in the government, Benab took on the opportunity.

“I never saw myself working in government, but I came over because I believed in [Bowser], and I believed in her mission,” stated Benab.

As a liaison for Ward 4, Benab dealt with the constituent services of the neighborhoods and being the “eyes and ears” of the mayor. Many issues that she faced with were under the field of Public Safety.

One of the issues that Benab is most known for working to resolve is the outbreak of rodents in Petworth Neighborhoods. Benab actively worked with Mayor Bowser’s Alleypalooza initiative to alleviate health and safety issues caused by vermin.

At the Mayor’s assistance, Benab worked on over 2000 concerns within the Ward 4 community. D.C. Council recognized Benab’s service in 2016 when she received the Community Cornerstone Award.

“[Benab] has been a major contribution to many of my initiatives,” said Bowser.

“She has been influential to my administration and my mission to push the development of the Ward 4 area.”

Her three-year tenure with the Mayor came to a close in September, and she took a new job in the office of the Deputy Mayor for Public Safety, where she said she would focus on public safety in Ward 4.

For Benab, her position in government has been a learning experience that has brought her career into a full circle.

“Now if I look back, I see how I would integrate government agencies and the services into the work I was doing previously,” says Benab.

Working in the government, she says her view on issues in the Ward 4 area has broadened beyond youth and gang violence.

With her new position under the Deputy Mayor, Benab intends to work on combating public safety issues in the Ward 4 community and throughout the District. With the support of the community around her, her supporters are confident in Benab’s ability to make a change in the lives of others.

“It has been a pleasure, and an honor watching [Benab] grow throughout her career,” said Bowser.

“I have no doubt in my mind that [Benab] is going to amazing work with the Deputy Mayor’s office and keep influencing change throughout the District.”