Captain Benson assumed the duties of Chief, Contingency Planning and Exercise Policy at USCG Headquarters in August 2018. In this capacity, she is responsible for the development and maintenance of strategic doctrine and policy guidance on the Coast Guards emergency management and disaster response mandates. These policies include continuity of government, incident management, preparedness and surge readiness, exercise requirements, lessons learned and analysis. Her previous assignment was as the Liaison to Military Sealift Command in Norfolk, VA where she was the sole representative of the Assistant Commandant for Prevention Policy charged with facilitating safety and security to an enterprise holding the largest single population of U.S. flagged vessels.
Originally from Halifax, Nova Scotia, Captain Benson is a graduate of Saint Marys University in Halifax, Nova Scotia and earned a Master of Arts Degree in International Relations from the University of Oklahoma. She has been awarded two Meritorious service Medals, Joint Service and Coast Guard Commendation Medals, Joint Service and Coast Guard Achievement Medals, and has earned the Marine Safety Insignia.
Captain Benson served as Prevention Department Head in Sector San Juan, Executive Officer at MSU Savannah, MSD Supervisor in Portsmouth, NH, and a variety of junior officer positions at MSO Boston. In Savannah, CAPT Benson led a team of container inspectors to achieve the 2012 Captain Niels P. Thomsen Innovation Award for innovative and efficient process improvements implemented jointly with Georgia Ports Authority, the second largest container port on the eastern seaboard. During her tour in San Juan, she assisted with four National Transportation Safety Board investigations, including two major engine room fires onboard cruise ships and the tragic sinking of the M/V El Faro in 2015. In support of the Energy Renaissance, she led the complex environmental permitting process for five liquefied hazardous gas facilities, including a first-in-the-nation use of an offshore Very Large Gas Carrier mooring to feed smaller carriers to supply cleaner energy products to critical power plants in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
In addition to the current assignment, her other staff assignment was as the First Coast Guard District as the Regional Response Team Coordinator at D1 Marine Safety Division. Her first joint service tour included performing the roles first of Operations, then Executive Officer, and, finally, Commanding Officer of the Boston Military Entrance Processing Station in Boston. CAPT Benson reported to U.S. Coast Guard Activities Europe in Rotterdam, the Netherlands in 2007 as an International Port Security Liaison Officer. She travelled extensively throughout Europe, North, West and Central Africa in support of the US Congressional mandate to assess anti-terrorism measures implemented in the ports of our maritime trading partners with the intent to improve supply chain security.
She enlisted in the United States Coast Guard in 1993. After graduating from Coast Guard Basic Training in Cape May, New Jersey, she reported to the Coast Guard Cutter Jarvis (WHEC 725) as a Fireman Apprentice in Honolulu, HI. After graduating with the Leadership Award from Quartermaster School in Yorktown, Virginia, she reported to the Coast Guard Intelligence Coordination Center in Suitland, Maryland.
Captain Benson is married to David Benson and has two children, Samuel and Ryleigh.