The following article was included in
Columbia Business Monthly's May 2011 Women of Influence issue. It has been
reprinted with the magazine's permission.
Benjamin also was named one of Columbia Business Monthly's "50 Most Influential
People 2011" in the magazine's Jan. 2012 edition.
of distinguished Attorney Donald Gist — until last month, she was a practicing
attorney in his firm — DeAndrea Gist Benjamin has long since dreamed of becoming
a judge. That dream comes to fruition this month, when Benjamin
assumes her new role as a circuit judge for Richland and Kershaw counties.
“I’ve always had an interest in law and the judicial
system,” says Benjamin. “While in college during summer break, I had an
opportunity to sit in a court proceeding where Federal District Judge Matthew J.
Perry presided. It was then that I first dreamed of becoming a judge.”
Benjamin’s judgeship is the latest in a list of career
achievements that includes serving as prosecutor for the S.C. Attorney General’s
office, municipal judge for the City of Columbia and assistant solicitor in the
Fifth Circuit Solicitor’s office. Her other prominent role, of course, is as
First Lady of the City of Columbia. Having grown up here, Benjamin says it’s
easy to forget how special Columbia really is.
don’t have three beautiful rivers running through them. They don’t have a major
college or university, let alone six. Most cities don’t have our theaters,
museums, art galleries or dance studios, a Fort Jackson or a Riverbanks Zoo. I
want Columbians to realize the potential that’s already here and start thinking
big about the possibilities.”
One of her passions is the
fight against childhood obesity, and she’s excited to be spearheading a project
called Let’s MoveColumbia.
“Based on First
Lady Michelle Obama’s national model, Let’s Move Columbia
takes a sustainable, holistic approach to fighting the
childhoodobesity epidemic,” says Benjamin. “[We
want to] help parentsmake healthy family choices,
improve health in our schools, increasephysical
activity and make healthy food affordable and accessible. Thisis a fight for our children’s lives, and I’m proud that the City is
leading the charge.”