Biography

California State Senator Ben Allen was elected in 2014 (and reelected in 2018) to represent the 26th Senate District covering the Westside, Hollywood and coastal South Bay communities of Los Angeles County.

Ben chairs the Senate’s Environmental Quality Committee and co-chairs the Legislature’s Environmental Caucus, as well as chairing the Legislative Jewish Caucus, the Legislature’s Joint Committee on the Arts, and the Senate Select Committee on Aerospace and Defense. He previously served as Chair of the Education Committee (2017-2019) and Chair of the Elections and Constitutional Amendments Committee (2015-2016).

Ben has thrown himself into the important work of state government, focusing on wise decision-making and pushing for reforms that address systemic inadequacies in our state. He has authored important laws in a variety of areas, from environmental protection to electoral reform.

Among his efforts to reform California campaign finance and elections laws, Ben authored the landmark Voter’s Choice Act of 2016 to implement more flexibility in how and where to vote, creating the vote center model used in the 2020 elections which resulted in significantly increased voter turnout. Ben also has been a leader for campaign transparency, and was a leader in passing the Disclose Act and Petition Disclose Act which has dramatically improved disclosure of donors to political causes for the public. The California Clean Money Campaign has routinely ranked him top in the Legislature for his commitment to clean money political reform.

As a legislative leader in environmental protection efforts, Ben continues to pursue ambitious policies that address the plastics pollution crisis. He has also worked to bolster the state’s climate resiliency by proposing a measure to invest in preparation for extreme weather and other climate-related events like wildfires, floods, and mudslides. Among other things, his committee is tasked with overseeing the state’s aggressive climate goals. He recently led a successful effort to phase out a dangerous carcinogen in firefighting foam and equipment, passed strict regulations on a type of mining that was polluting California rivers, crafted a compromise to phase out destructive trawling gear, and brokered a major compromise that lessened the environmental impact of off-highway vehicle use at state facilities. “If only Congress could work out such compromises,” wrote the Sacramento Bee editorial board about the OHV bill.

A representative of the Golden State’s arts and entertainment industry, Ben is a member of the California Film Commission. He authored the law that reinstated teaching credentials for theatre and dance educators, and he continues to fight for expanded access to the arts in schools and underserved communities. He has been a champion for science, and was joint author of the state’s groundbreaking law that increased vaccination rates amongst school children.

Prior to being elected to the Senate, Ben was a school board member, attorney and lecturer at UCLA’s law school. As president of the Santa Monica-Malibu Unified School District Board of Education, he spearheaded efforts in environmental sustainability, financial accountability, and community engagement. Before his election to the SMMUSD Board, Ben served as a voting member of the University of California Board of Regents and was a judicial clerk with the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda.

Ben grew up in the 26th Senate District and attended public schools, graduating from Santa Monica High School in 1996. His father, Michael, spent his career on the English Department faculty at UCLA and mother, Elena, was a public school teacher and artist, and served as Chair of the Santa Monica Arts Commission. Ben has a Bachelor of Arts degree magna cum laude in History from Harvard University; a Master’s degree in Latin American Studies from the University of Cambridge; and a Juris Doctor degree from UC Berkeley. Fluent in Spanish, Ben is a Senior Fellow with the international human rights organization Humanity in Action, an Aspen Institute-Rodel Fellow, a Truman National Security Project Fellow, and a graduate of the Jewish Federation's New Leaders Project. He and his wife Melanie, an attorney, have a little son, Ezra.