Reverend Ben McBride

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Ben is a native of San Francisco and a longtime activist for peace and justice in the Bay Area. As an advocate for youth, he served as a member of the crisis counseling team for West Contra Costa Unified School District; and as Program Director for Global Education Partnership, he served to empower at-risk youth through entrepreneurship.

Ben has a history of spiritual leadership, beginning as a youth pastor and continuing throughout his term as collegiate pastor for two congregations. In 2008, Ben relocated his family to a difficult neighborhood in Oakland known as “The Kill Zone.” This positioned him to gain firsthand understanding in order to intelligently respond to the epidemic of gun violence.

During this tenure, he also served as Executive Director of a large non-profit providing rescue and recovery; medical and financial; educational and spiritual opportunities to hurting and homeless Oakland residents.

In 2012, Ben was an instrumental component in relaunching the first successful iteration of Operation Ceasefire: a data-driven, communication strategy to reduce gun violence. Operation Ceasefire’s strategy has contributed heavily to a near 50% reduction in homicides over the last five years.

As a result of Ben’s zeal for social improvement and judicial restructuring, Ben founded the Empower Initiative in 2014. Empower provides faith-based technical assistance concerning public safety and training for religious community members around the intersection of race and faith.

In late 2014, Ben became the primary civilian trainer for the Oakland Police Department’s Procedural Justice & Police Legitimacy Course and went on to partner with the Department of Justice and California's POST in training law enforcement executives across the state. Ben is deeply committed to rebuilding the relationship between the community and police departments through reform and practice.

In 2015, Ben joined the PICO California team and now serves as the Co Director with a focus on formation and innovation.

Ben has received many honors, including the FRED Scholars Award; Oakland Natives Non-Profit Leader of the Year; the Oakland Police Foundation's Neighborhood Champion Award; and the ASIS Community Policing award and currently serves, at the nomination of the Attorney General, as the Co-Chair for The Racial and Identity Profiling Advisory Board for a California's Department of Justice. Ben authored his first book, Cry for Freedom, in 2006, and his current work, Crossing the Street, is slated for release in 2018.

Ben is an internationally sought after speaker and has shared his motivational message of peacemaking and transformation in Canada, the United Kingdom and the Middle East. He carries an inspiring message that resonates in religious circles and corporate communities alike.  Ben’s core message of “Crossing the Street” incorporates a fusion of anecdotes and reflective principles, challenging leaders to bring conflicting parties together in a manner idealizing “the world as it should be.”

Ben has keynoted a variety of sessions, including World Vision International offering insight to global relief executives; the Global  Immersion Project providing remedies towards the cessation of global conflict; the Sauder School of Business regarding the retooling of strategies for today’s impact; and Q Commons as he inspired technological entrepreneurs and faith leaders from just making a difference to “being the difference.

Firas Nasr