Natalee Benzing (she/her)
Program Director &
Chief of Staff
Natalee is a proud first-generation college graduate and champion for college access, equity, and inclusion. She earned her Bachelor's degree from Boston College, studying Applied Psychology and Human Development, and is now pursuing a Master’s degree in Higher Education from the University of Denver.
Natalee’s career in education was inspired by her experience as a participant in a TRIO Upward Bound program in northern Vermont, which supports first-generation, high financial need high school students to access higher education. After graduating from the program, she returned as a residential counselor for three years, which fueled her growing passion for educational equity and helped her discover her professional calling. Her time with Upward Bound ultimately led to her selection as a Truman Scholar in 2018, the nation’s premier scholarship for public service leaders.
Alongside her work with Access Opportunity, Natalee has served in several leadership roles with the National College Attainment Network, Prosperity Denver Fund, College Essay Guy’s Matchlighters Scholars Program, and Peak Education. She also spearheaded the #CollegeForAll Fair – a national, virtual college fair highlighting institutions committed to access and equity – at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic. In her free time, Natalee loves soaking up the Colorado sunshine, spending time with her husband and their two fur babies, and curling up with a good book.
Favorite College Experience: "Spending a semester abroad in Thessaloniki, Greece. I had not traveled much before that, so those three months pushed me out of my comfort zone in the best way. Highlights included going on weekend trips to six other countries, hiking up and canyoning down Mt. Olympus, four-wheeling by the ocean in Santorini, and visiting the cat museum in Amsterdam!"
Advice for High School and College Students: "Never count yourself out of any opportunity that comes your way. Some of my most impactful and empowering experiences in college started out as pipe dreams, and even those that ultimately ended in rejection still helped me grow."
Favorite Food: "It depends on the day, but anyone who knows me knows that I could never say no to a fresh baked chocolate chip cookie (or three)."