WASHINGTON, D.C. (January 5, 2022) – BGR Group, Washington, D.C.’s premier bipartisan lobbying and public relations firm, today announced that the Honorable Stephen K. Benjamin will become Co-Chair of its Advisory Board. Mayor Benjamin, who did not run for reelection after serving three successful terms as Mayor of Columbia, South Carolina, joined the Advisory Board in 2020. He will lead the firm’s outreach to the nation’s mayors on issues including infrastructure, broadband, education, telecommunications and public finance. Mayor Benjamin will also advise the firm’s clients on strengthening Diversity, Equity and Inclusion programs as critical components of their Environmental, Social and Governance strategies.
“Mayor Benjamin is an outstanding leader and we are thrilled he is expanding his role at BGR,” said BGR Chairman and CEO Bob Wood. “His broad experience as a mayor and national advocate for diversity makes him uniquely qualified to advise our clients on a wide range of issues.”
“I have been incredibly impressed with the BGR team and am excited about expanding my role with the firm,” Mayor Benjamin said. “Promoting inclusive policies and expediting equitable infrastructure development will continue to be key areas of focus for me. Mayors will play an even more central role in policy development as they implement the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act across the country. As this process moves forward, it is vital that business leaders engage stakeholders at all levels on a consistent basis.”
“Mayor Benjamin’s advice and counsel has been invaluable to each of us at BGR and all of our clients,” said Jonathan Mantz, Co-Head of BGR’s Commerce, Infrastructure & Energy Practice and the leader of the firm’s Democratic outreach. “In his expanded role, he will help our clients engage in public-private partnerships as well as navigate complex environmental, social and governance challenges. We are thrilled to have him as a Co-Chair of our Advisory Board.”
Benjamin was elected in 2010 as the first Black mayor of South Carolina’s capital city and served until the end of 2021. As mayor, Benjamin focused on economic development, job creation and maintaining a just, diverse, and trusted law enforcement department. He served as President of the U.S. Conference of Mayors from 2018-2019 and as President of the African American Mayors Association from 2015-2016 He has also been Executive Chairman of Municipal Bonds for America, a member of the Federal Communications Commission’s Intergovernmental Advisory Committee, and a member of the Accelerator for America Advisory Council. In October 2021, U.S. Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo named Mayor Benjamin as Board Chair of the First Responder Network Authority (FirstNet Authority).
In 2016, President Barack Obama highlighted Mayor Benjamin’s work on behalf of My Brother’s Keeper (MBK), an initiative to empower boys and young men of color through combinations of federal grants, public-private partnerships and ingenuity. The city’s MBK efforts, in addition to Mayor Benjamin’s leadership, led to Columbia being seen as a nationwide leader in implementing and upholding the missions of the program.
Prior to his service as mayor, Benjamin served in South Carolina Governor Jim Hodges’ cabinet as the Chief Executive of the state’s second-largest law enforcement agency, the Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services. He also served as special counsel at a national law firm, serving as co-bond counsel on the issuance of over $150 million in municipal debt. Benjamin has been a member of the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta Affordable Housing Advisory Council, Co-Chair of the Sierra Club’s Mayors for 100% Clean Energy. He was awarded the U.S. Small Business Administration’s 2017 Phoenix Award for Outstanding Contributions to Disaster Recovery by a Public Official for his leadership during an October 2015 flood.
Benjamin began his public service career in Columbia as student body president of the University of South Carolina and later as Student Bar Association President at the USC School of Law. He and his wife, the Honorable DeAndrea Gist Benjamin, Judge of General Sessions for South Carolina’s Fifth Judicial Circuit, are the proud parents of two daughters.