Ben Sand, CEO, MDiv

Ben Sand grew up in Spokane, Washington, the son of a single mother and one of six siblings. Ben went to college on a Presidential scholarship and completed a degree in English from Eastern Washington University, intending to be a high school English teacher.  Instead, Ben and his wife Maile were called to Portland, Oregon to run Young Life in the inner city.  While serving with Young Life, Ben established the Act Six Program – an urban leadership and scholarship program designed to empower the next generation of diverse leadership for the region.

In 2008, Ben founded Portland Leadership Foundation (PLF), a faith-based community organizing organization, to both hold Act Six and incubate new initiatives in the city.  In the years since its inception, PLF has grown dramatically and now facilitates 13 initiatives. Ben’s team works to strengthen and develop diverse leadership for the city. As of 2016, PLF now empowers over 350 diverse young leaders per year. Ben also oversees the national expansion of the Act Six brand. Act Six is now in Portland, Tacoma, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Indianapolis, and Chicago. 

In 2013, PLF established Embrace Oregon – an initiative connecting caring community members with vulnerable children and families in partnership with the Department of Human Services (DHS). Embrace Oregon works directly with 137 faith communities in Portland. Over 200 foster families have come forward through Embrace Oregon in the last 30 months. PLF has mobilized 3,500 volunteers to directly partner with DHS through multiple new volunteer initiatives, and faith communities have mobilized hundreds of thousands of dollars to renovate each DHS office in the region, provide tangible needs for over 1,000 children in foster care, and give ongoing monthly hospitality to DHS employees. In December 2016, PLF will be scaling Embrace Oregon under a new brand called Every Child. PLF will partner with the State of Oregon to scale to all of Oregon’s 36 counties in five years.

In addition to sending diverse students to college and working with children and families involved with DHS, PLF also runs the inner city youth football program (Portland Youth Football and Cheer), an initiative working with student athletes called the Champions Academy, a non-profit leadership development gap year program called the Young Fellowship, and a capacity building service for non-profit organizations called the Center for Communities. PLF has five locations throughout the city.

While Ben is committed for the long haul to serve as the CEO of PLF, he also serves as the Strategic Advisor to Dr. Andrea Cook, President at Warner Pacific College. Ben has been working with Dr. Cook since 2009, and Warner Pacific College has made a dramatic turn to become the most affordable private non-profit higher education in the region. Last year, Warner Pacific had the largest incoming class in its history and 55% of the incoming freshmen were students of color.

Ben completed his Master of Divinity at George Fox University and is an elder at Imago Dei Community. He and his wife, Maile, have two biological children, Adah and Zoe, and a foster son, Julin. Ben loves flyfishing, running, writing, and Gonzaga Bulldogs Basketball.

Topics Include
Gov. + Church I Foster Care I Leadership
Possible Formats
Keynote I Retreats I Sermon

Past Engagements

  • CCCU Diversity Conference
  • DHS Oregon Employee Retreat
  • Oregon State Legislature
  • George Fox University
  • Young Life Summer Camp Speaker
  • Slingshot Youth Conference

Travel Info

Departing From:
Portland, OR



Ben has an intellect and ability to connect with a wide range of people. Never wavering from telling the truth, he does it in a way that makes the hearer want to do something about it!
— Jim Lyon, General Director, Church of God
I love Ben’s ability to share his passion for The Kingdom of God in so many diverse venues, from church community, youth, business and Civic leaders, his strategic thinking mind and commitment to human flourishing come through in a conversational and inspiring way.
— Rick McKinley, Senior Pastor, Imago Dei Community
Ben’s voice carries into many spaces. He inspires and challenges young people, academics, government leaders, and a wide variety of the people of God. He speaks with a passion that moves ideas forward.
— Dr. Andrea Cook, President, Warner Pacific College