Benming "Benny" Zhang was elected to the Williamsburg City Council on May 3, 2016. He was sworn-in on July 1, 2016.
Benny has been an active member of the Williamsburg community since entering the College as a Sharpe Community Scholar in the fall of 2012. He is a proud resident and homeowner on Burns Lane. He has been involved in various initiatives to better the lives for all residents of Williamsburg.
In 2013, Mayor Clyde Haulman appointed Benny to the Public Housing Advisory Committee (PHAC) for a four year term. Benny’s role with the PHAC requires him to advise the Williamsburg Redevelopment and Public Housing Commissioners on relevant HUD and Virginia Housing Development Authority guidelines. As a citizen advocate, he is responsible for addressing various public housing resident issues and grievances. Benny is currently a member of the Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance, and sits on the Government Affairs Committee. Benny is also a member of the Jamestown-Yorktown Foundation Revolutionary Society, a group dedicated to attracting young professionals to become more involved with the historical Jamestown area and its wellbeing.
His passion for community service began in high school. As a student at Choate Rosemary Hall, Benny founded a program that formed relationships with schools in Cayambe, Ecuador. The program sent high school students to partner with the community to help renovate their schools. Benny entered William & Mary as a Sharpe Community Scholar, focusing on opportunity gaps in United States education. During his freshman year, Benny worked with a fellow Sharpe scholar to start a tutoring program at the local juvenile detention center, now known as Merrimac Mentors, an initiative that later turned into a full-fledged group mentoring program that serves the whole center. Benny is also involved with the Asian American Students Initiative. As a self-designed Asian-American Studies major, he wrote his senior honors thesis on Arthur Matsu, the first Asian-American to graduate from the College. He is currently attending Marshall-Wythe School of Law (William & Mary Law School) as a Juris Doctor (J.D.) candidate.
Benny is the oldest son to Dr. Han Zhang and Ms. Jinlan Liu. He resides in Williamsburg, moving to the Burns Lane neighborhood in the spring of 2013. Benny worships at Bruton Parish Church, where he was baptized and confirmed.
Benny serves on the following boards/committees:
- Vice President, Virginia Transit Association
- Olde Towne Medical & Dental Center (Council Liaison)
- Greater Williamsburg Chamber & Tourism Alliance Board of Directors - Business Council (Council Liaison) (2018-present)
- Greater Peninsula Workforce Development Consortium (Council Liaison) (2016-2018)
- Peninsula Council for Workforce Development: Communications Committee (2017-present)
- Virginia First Cities (Council Liaison)
- Public Housing Advisory Committee (Council Liaison)
- Youth Aeronautics Educational Foundation
- 2019 Commemoration First Representative Legislative Assembly Committee
- Virginia Municipal League Legislative Committee (2017, 2018)
- Virginia Municipal League Annual Conference Planning Committee (2017)
- Governor-elect Ralph Northam's Transition Policy Council on Local Government (2017)
- Participant, Dancing with the Williamsburg Stars; first place for most fundraising ($20,000) & tied second place for best dance routine