Benjamin Weber

Benjamin Weber

"He has certainly brought credit to good old North Penn High School," said Gale Reid, former North Penn High School (NPHS) teacher in describing 2017 Knight of Honor, Benjamin Weber.

Benjamin Weber, NPHS Class of 1988 alumnus, spent much of his high school years working closely with "Doc Reid" and countless others in the Social Studies Department at NPHS in various clubs, projects and events.

"I'm not sure if 'center of excellence' was a term in common use back then, but with teachers like Doc Reid, Dr. Clarke, Mr. Finnemeyer, Mr. Arnholt, Mr. Greco and Ms. Wilson, NPHS Social Studies surely was such a place," Benjamin said.

Selfless and determined, Benjamin has dedicated the last 25 years to serving our country in many more ways than just one. He feels strongly that his experiences at NPHS were the foundation for the successful career that he has led thus far.

Born and raised in Hatfield, Benjamin Weber was a North Penn student from Kindergarten all the way up through 12th grade, attending A.M. Kulp Elementary School, Pennfield Middle School, North Penn Junior High and finally NPHS. After graduating in 1988 alongside 2016 Knight of Honor Michael Haynie, Benjamin attended Haverford College. Following a year abroad studying at the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, UK in 1990 and 1991, Benjamin graduated from Haverford in 1992 with a B.A. in Political Science with high honors. He was sworn in as a Foreign Service Officer in March 1993.

Benjamin's passion for foreign affairs took flight in 1994 in Ashgabat, Turkmenistan. Here, he served as Consular Officer/General Services Officer at the U.S. Embassy. During this time, he also served as the Narcotics Issues Coordinator, Military Assistance Officer and reporting officer for the inter-Tajik Peace Talks in Ashgabat. A devout advocate for equality, Benjamin took a position two years later at the U.S. Embassy in Moscow, as Human Rights Officer for the Russian Federation and also lead on religious freedom issues in the country.

Since then, Benjamin has taken on a vast array of roles all over the world in faithful service to the United States. Some of these include Political/Economic/Commercial Officer of the U.S. Consulate General in Yekaterinburg, Russia; Political Officer of the Office of Chinese and Mongolian Affairs; Deputy Chief, Political/Economic Section of the U.S. Consulate General in Shanghai, China; Deputy Public Affairs Adviser of the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs; and Political Unit Chief of the U.S. Consulate General in Hong Kong and Macau, China.

Long before he was defending human rights in China and leading public outreach in Eastern Asia, Benjamin's reverence of political science and foreign affairs began right inside the walls of NPHS. In fact, in 2004 during the U.S. presidential election, Benjamin was stationed in Shanghai, China where he attended events to present the election to the Chinese and American community. In doing so, he provided a brief presentation explaining the U.S. electoral college. "Gripped in my hand was a term paper that I wrote for Doc Reid in high school," Benjamin said. "I used it as the basis for my entire presentation."

Benjamin's keen interest and knack for political science was first noticed by department leaders like Gale Reid in the World Affairs Club, of which Benjamin was an active member throughout all three years of high school. From there, Benjamin explained that his educators took a vested interest in helping him attend a variety of regional, state, national and even international conferences relating to world affairs. One in particular that Benjamin noted as especially impactful was a two-day United Nations International School Conference, titled "The Cost of War, the Price of Peace." With the help of Doc Reid and other NPHS Social Studies teachers, Benjamin and one of his classmates applied to attend this conference and were selected among a distinguished group to be part of the program in 1987. A year later, Benjamin attended the Washington Workshops Congressional Seminar on a scholarship that he was awarded based on an application process.

In 1987, Benjamin recalled participating in a day-long constitutional convention at NPHS run by a student group and spearheaded by his brother, Steven Weber. Here, Benjamin led a committee on structural reform issues like the electoral college. During Benjamin's senior year of high school, he participated in the Mock Republican National Convention where he served as the Platform Committee Co-Chair.

"The Mock Convention was an outstanding event that allowed for student creativity," Benjamin explained. "Creativity was not only permitted, but encouraged."

Benjamin's responsibilities as Platform Committee Co-Chair included leading discussions ahead of the event, drafting the platform, and chairing the platform debate at the Convention itself.

"I still have a copy of The Knight Crier [NPHS student-run newspaper] with the front page picture of Ben chairing the 1988 mock convention," recalls Gale Reid. "I sat in the back of the auditorium and watched with great pride as he grabbed the convention and ran it. I knew then that he was destined for great things."

His experience at the Mock Republican National Convention was not Benjamin's first foray into public speaking. Earlier that year, he had attended the Jefferson Debates on the Constitution, his first public speaking competition.

During his time at NPHS, Benjamin was a member of the National Honor Society and served as a Student Government Association classroom representative for the U.S. and World Issues. He was on the Academic Decathlon team and won about a dozen medals including a Bronze at the national competition in the "Speech" category. He also participated in a three-week exchange program through the North Penn International Friendship Committee with NPHS' sister school in Aalen, Germany.

"I wouldn't be doing what I'm doing today without the social studies department at North Penn," Benjamin explained. "I feel very lucky to have had a well-supported high school with not only excellent teachers, but excellent infrastructure to do such wonderful things. North Penn is a place where students can take and create opportunities to do some fairly big things."

And big things he has certainly done. Following more than 15 years of service around the world, Benjamin returned to the U.S. in 2011 to share his first-hand experience and skills with fellow Americans as the Senior Watch Officer (SWO) for the Nuclear Risk Reduction Center (AVC/NRRC). Here, he was one of two SWOs on the 24/7/365 NRRC Watch and head of the six-officer Foreign Service Officer (FSO) contingent. Benjamin continued his work in the U.S. for the next four years as State Department Senior Fellow of the Atlantic Council from 2012 to 2013 and Senior African Union and Multilateral Affairs Officer for the Bureau of African Affairs until 2015.

He then returned to China as the Information Officer and Embassy Spokesperson at the U.S. Embassy in Beijing. Benjamin was the director of the 27-person Embassy Press Office and served as primary point of contact for Chinese and China-based international media. The Press Office also managed the Ambassador's and the Embassy's official social media engagement with the people of China and supported press relations and outreach for visits by senior U.S. officials.

Following nearly a year in China, Benjamin returned back home to the U.S. in 2016 as a Senior Adviser for the Center for the Study of the Conduct of Diplomacy at the Foreign Service Institute (FSI) in Arlington, Virginia. During his time at FSI, he worked to develop case studies of diplomatic practice and tradecraft and to support conferences advancing that goal with FSI. Benjamin also authored a Policy Implementation Review on diplomacy by Missions in countries experiencing domestic political crisis for use by curriculum developers at FSI.

Benjamin's skillset is exceptional. While his primary professional area has been political affairs analyzing developments in foreign countries and recommending policies in response, he has also served in several assignments involving public affairs and press relations. After spending nearly two decades dispersed throughout Russia and China, it is no surprise that Benjamin is competent in Russian, Cantonese Chinese and Mandarin Chinese. His dedication, passion and mastery of world affairs is evidenced by the many recognitions that Benjamin has been awarded over the years, including: Superior Honor Award, 2010 (Hong Kong); Superior Honor Award (Group), 2006 (EAP/P); Superior Honor Award, 2005 (Shanghai); Meritorious Honor Award, 2015 (AF/RSA); Meritorious Honor Award, 2001 (EAP/CM); Meritorious Honor Award (Group), 1998 (Yekaterinburg); and Individual Cash Award, 2012 (AVC/NRRC).

For now, Benjamin remains in the U.S. with his wife, Olga I.L. Weber and their two daughters, Keshet and Polina. He currently serves as the Director of Foreign Press Centers for the Bureau of Public Affairs. He manages the work of the Washington, D.C. and New York Foreign Press Centers (FPC) which serve over 2,400 accredited foreign journalists working in the United States. The FPCs provide briefings, tours and other reporting opportunities to these journalists, as well as international reporting tours for journalists based overseas.

Benjamin Weber is the true model of an exemplary North Penn Knight. His passion and devotion to world affairs and the United State of America speaks volumes of his character, intellect and heart.

"Haverford [College] was full of students from elite prep schools, but few of them came to college with as many term papers under their belts as I did, and I never felt myself at a disadvantage in terms of tackling the work," Benjamin said. "In recounting my career, the real point I want to make is that the preparation I received from North Penn's outstanding Social Studies Department, in terms of the intellectual challenges and also the training in research and writing, stood me in excellent stead in my college career and professional life."