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Team Spotlight: Claire Benjamin

Charter School Capital

September 17, 2020

Claire Benjamin - Paralegal at Charter School Capital
Claire is a California native with a love for nature, yoga, and the UK Royal Family.
Previously practicing corporate law, she found herself wanting to move to a field that was not only intrinsically motivating but focused on education. Over a decade ago, what started as a spontaneous weekend trip to Portland turned into a love affair with the city, and she stayed.
With her two cats, husband, and a novel in the works, she reflects on continually learning and fighting the good fight.


How did you Meet Charter School Capital?

After several years of working professionally in the corporate law field, I wanted to diverge from the pathway many of my peers took. A path of law school, sleepless nights, and working more than full-time at giant law firms. I really found myself feeling burned out and was looking for a fresh start.

After a quick visit to Portland, I decided to stay, soul search, and go back for my Masters. A few years later, after “beefing up” my resume and talking to recruiters, Ryann Johnson (Sr. Director of Underwriting) contacted me through LinkedIn. The Charter School Capital interview process was wonderful. I was delightfully surprised by my team’s thoughtfulness, consideration, and drive, which ultimately led to me rejecting multiple other offers as I went through the CSC interview process. I’ve now been part of the CSC Underwriting team for just over a year.

What keeps me going is our mission – that we care deeply about creating better educational opportunities. The way CSC is continually positively impacting the world of education makes me excited to go to work every morning.

How would you describe CSC and your position?

I’m a gatekeeper for the schools we want to support. CSC seriously wants good education models to survive and thrive because we care about the students. My team has the responsibility of vetting the schools that come to us for support. It is also my job to support and guide educators as they navigate the nuts and bolts of their corporate tasks and responsibilities, thus freeing them up to focus on educating their students. I love that we take such a holistic approach to the way we support our schools.

What’s something about you that might be surprising?

I love mythology and seeking the authentic self. Michael Mead states, “Each of us are born with this unique gift inside of ourselves.” He calls it “our genius,” and it’s the idea that each of us has this unique gift inside ourselves. The elders and the parents of a community have a responsibility to find that unique gift in each child and nurture it. That relates to creating a world of education where kids have all these great tools and can express their individual, authentic self under the elders’ guidance in their communities.

What brings you joy?

When I see the incredible power of the human spirit in action. Like when I see moms on the front-line of protests, defending children, or folks standing together in solidarity for a just cause. CSC is a place that encourages the power of the spirit and that their employees embrace our passions. I have the privilege of working somewhere that is at the forefront of the work to be compassionate in business and be emotionally tuned to the actions that we take.
I love being a part of an organization that cares and is actively supporting the charter movement for future generations. It makes me hopeful and passionate, especially during times of hardship.

When did you learn about this line of work? What called you to it?

My parents were educators and activists. I don’t remember a time when my parents weren’t having conversations about our education system. A big reason my parents picked my hometown of Sebastopol was that (at the time), the public schools in the town were consistently ranked number one in the State of California. I always knew our public-school system wasn’t perfect and that I was privileged to have the opportunities I got. As I grew older, I knew I didn’t want to be a teacher, but I did want to impact schools in some way. As I learned more about charter schools, I began to see a potential solution to some of the problems in the public school system, my parents would talk about.

What did you want to be when you grew up?

A writer – I’ve written and journaled my whole life. Right now, I have a fantasy novel in the works, based on mythology.

From your position, how do you impact charter schools?

As an underwriter, it is my job to look for the problems in schools when we take them under our wing. My team helps set up a plan for the school so we can set up resources for the schools in the best way.

If you could create a new class subject, What would it be?

Albert Einstein said, “The intuitive mind is the sacred gift, and the rational mind is the faithful servant. We have created a society that honors the servant and has forgotten the gift.” I would like to see coursework that encourages students to cultivate their intuition and inner wisdom – to listen to that little voice inside that always knows the truth.

In your view, what does the world need more of? Less of?

More women running things. Across all countries, cultures, and groups, you consistently see evidence that the more women you have running things, the more you have a diversity of thought, community-centric thinking, and equal representation.

Less patriarchy will lead to more balance.

What do you hope to see for the Future of Charter Schools?

I hope that Charter Schools continue to evolve as places where educational models can be reinvented and reimagined, where people are experimenting with new teaching methods, and making resources more available to larger populations.

What do you hope to see for the Future of CSC?

I hope to see the mission to expand and continue to grow. The idea that our company could even become large enough to impact schools and education globally is exciting.

By branching out, we can express diversity, encourage authentic self-expression, and look at our children as part of a global community. I get excited when we get to help schools with unique and diverse missions. For example, one school I work with is a Hindi and English language immersion school. Schools like that encourage rich conversations around community and education because they are involved in the global conversation.

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