Ann Lewin-Benham

Date of Birth

December 19, 1939

Date of Death

February 6, 2023

City of Death

Santa Barbara, Ca

Ann Lewin-Benham was born in Bainbridge, MA, December 19th 1939, to Albert White and Florence Regina (Reggie) Levy White. Her career and passion for innovative educational models and deep compassion for our planet is a living legacy of a career that took her across the world. Following a culture filled childhood in Manhattan and upstate New York, Ann matriculated to Bryn Mawr College and graduated Cum Laude in 1960. After a stint as a welfare worker in Jacksonville, NC Ann moved to metropolitan Washington, DC where she first became a Montessori teacher and then co-founded Montessori and other experimental schools. In 1975 She stepped in as the executive director of the fledgling Capital Children’s Museum which became The National Learning Center (NLC) offering children and families from around the world immersive hands-on educational experiences. The NLC center attracted thought leaders, artists, world class educators, and cutting-edge tech companies including Chuck (Buggs Bunny) Jones, Buckminster Fuller, Steve Jobs, Atari and Seymour Papert among others. The museum was the incubator of the Model Early Learning Center (the first U.S. school to be certified by Reggio Amelia); and Options School, an intensive media-based approach for teenagers who had been incarcerated, dropped out, or been expelled from public schools. Options, still serving DC youth, created a path of safety, accomplishment and success for teens who had the bleakest futures. The museum served the richest and poorest in Washington, DC including a volunteer program that was an after school safe-haven for local teens. As an innovative and multicultural center, the NLC was a must see stop for visiting first ladies that included the unprecedented joint visit of Jehan Sadat and Aliza Begin. After 20 years of innovation and fund raising, Ann fell in love and followed Robert Benham to Memphis, TN. There she assumed the role Executive Director of Leadership Memphis for two years and helped fund raise and run the successful campaigns for soon to be Judge Robert Benham. With an ongoing passion for innovation in early childhood education, Ann embarked on a writing career yielding six books published by Teachers College Press, Columbia University. Robert and Ann moved to Santa Barbara, CA in 2013, Ann continued to publish, most recently a second Edition of Infants and Toddlers at Work and a children’s poetry book, Parsley (2022). Ann was a gardener, poet, mentor, role model and an unconditionally loving parent and grandmother. Ann left us on February 6th 2023, survived by her husband, Judge Robert Benham, a son, Dr. Daniel Lewin, grandson, M. Shepard Lewin, sister Victoria Cruickshank and nieces and nephews, Michael, Alex, P.T., Kellie, Bertie and Zed.


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