About Us

Hillcrest Town Council Board of Directors

Benny Cartwright, Chair – [Pronouns: He/Him/His] Benny Cartwright currently serves as the Chair of the Hillcrest Town Council, and has been on the board since 2015, first serving as Secretary, then Vice Chair and now Chair. He has participated with HTC activities off and on since the organization’s inception in 2007. Benny currently works as the Director of Community Outreach at the San Diego LGBT Community Center, writes a monthly column called “Back Out With Benny” in Gay San Diego, and is active in many other community organizations. He has a masters degree in Nonprofit Leadership & Management from the University of San Diego.


Jae Mohr, Vice Chair – [Pronouns: She/Her/Hers] Jae was appointed to the Hillcrest Town Council board in the summer of 2017 as a fill in for the Treasurer’s opening and is now Vice Chair. She has lived in Hillcrest since 2014 and is an active volunteer and member for various local, state, federal and global organizations. She has a M.A. in Women’s Studies and currently works in Human Resources.


Mary Mckenzie, Secretary – [Pronouns: She/Her/Hers] Mary M. McKenzie was appointed to the Hillcrest Town Council in 2016 and currently serves as its secretary. Mary is a long-time adjunct faculty member of international relations at the University of San Diego. She has lived in Hillcrest (with a 6-year absence) since 1998, and is an active member of the San Diego World Affairs Council, the San Diego Diplomacy Council, the Uptown Democratic Club and the League of Women Voters. She received her Ph.D. in political science form UC Santa Barbara and a JD from USD. Mary is passionate about the environment, human rights and civil discourse. Her babies are Pinky, her chihuahua, and her three cats, Eva, Calvin and Oliver.

 Daniel Merk-Benitez, Treasurer – [Pronouns: He/Him/His] Daniel was recently re-appointed to the board, first serving from 2016-2017. Born and raised in San Diego, Daniel has lived in Hillcrest for seven years and loves the vibrancy and diversity of the neighborhood. Professionally, Daniel is an interior designer. Unprofessionally, Daniel likes throwing any kind of gathering that gets a lot of different people in the same space.


David Vance, Member-At-Large – [Pronouns: They/Them/Theirs]David Vance first became involved with Hillcrest Town Council in 2016 as a Steering Committee volunteer, and was elected to the Board of Directors in 2017. They are the PrEP Coordinator and an HIV Test Counselor at the San Diego LGBT Community Center. They also served as Co-Chair of The Center’s Young Professionals Council, a leadership development program for young LGBTQ professionals and allies. They are passionate about sexual health, non-binary/transgender issues, makeup, and intersectional social justice as a whole.


William Pontius, Neighborhood Improvement Committee – [Pronouns: He/Him/His] William Pontius is an activist from Seattle who specialized in community organizing, fundraising, and corporate responsibility. Because of his activism back home, he had the opportunity to have a role in the “Same Love” music video by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. William moved to San Diego in late 2013 for a change of pace, but quickly began working for his first elected official, Kevin Beiser, who was running for re-election to the San Diego Unified School Board. William is a graduate of The Center’s Young Professionals Council Academy, and served on the YPC Executive Committee in 2017-18. He also loves raising money for charitable causes and was the #1 AIDS Walk & Run San Diego Fundraiser in 2017. Pontius currently lives in Hillcrest’s hospital district and works in telecommunications.

Erik Benson – Hillcrest Arts Committee – [Pronouns: He/Him/His] Bio coming soon.



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