Tracy Benson is a member of the Social Justice and Well-being team with the W. Haywood Burns Institute. Tracy is an organizer from the Midwest with over 20 years of experience doing local grassroots community and base building, statewide policy and advocacy, and national youth justice organizing work. She joined the CJNY Advisory Council in 2002 and came onto staff as a Regional Manager in 2010.
Tracy first came to CJNY as a member of the network base in 2001, representing two youth organizing groups in Madison, WI. Working with Southeast Asian and African American teens in her community, plagued by over-policing, racial profiling, surveillance, and excessive violence from law enforcement, Tracy helped to support and develop two youth organizing groups and was a co-founding member of Freedom Inc.
Over the next ten years, she organized with other youth of color to create a local “Stop the Rail to Jail” movement in Wisconsin, a state with some of the worst racial and ethnic disparities in the nation. She worked directly with system involved youth of color to address school policing, immigration/deportation, and racial and ethnic disparities in her local youth justice system. She was a member of her county DMC committee and organized the state’s first youth Justice Conference, bringing together over 100 youth of color from Madison and Milwaukee.
Since coming onto the CJNY staff, Tracy organized 5 new community led Task Forces on Racial and Ethnic Disparities. She has coordinated peer to peer exchanges, regional and national conferences and trainings and has served as a community engagement specialist and technical assistance provider for the Burns Institute’s work in numerous youth and adult justice systems across the country. Tracy also serves as a steering team member of the National Youth Alliance on Boys and Men of Color.