Benjamin Mertz is a musician and educator based in Richmond, California. He has worked for over fifteen years with faith communities, civil rights groups, nonprofit organizations, and schools. He is currently on the board of directors of the Interfaith Movement for Human Integrity, a faith-based organization that fights for immigrants' rights and organizes against mass incarceration and deportation. He has also worked alongside organizations like the NAACP, EqualityForward, Black Lives Matter, Jewish Voice for Peace, The Asian Law Caucus, and more.
Benjamin's approach to Diversity & Inclusion is based in storytelling, curiosity, creativity, open-hearted dialogue, and a foundational belief in the goodness of human beings. Everyone is the expert in their own experience, and the path to a healthier society is built with courageous truth-telling and empathetic listening. Benjamin's perspective on social issues is firmly rooted in the prophetic, musical, and literary traditions of African American history: James Baldwin, Maya Angelou, Fannie Lou Hamer, Martin Luther King, Langston Hughes, Nina Simone, and many others.
A third-generation professional musician, Benjamin’s mother is an opera and jazz vocalist and his “grandaddy” was a bebop pianist who worked with luminaries like Sarah Vaughan and Charles Mingus. Benjamin was further shaped in a culturally diverse, multi-ethnic church community in Paterson, New Jersey. His work with BECI is centered around building bridges, strengthening cross-cultural dialogue, breaking down silos, and creating nurturing environments where all people can thrive.